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Two faculty members in Pitt's School of Pharmacy have been elected 2022 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Donna Huryn and Wen Xie, both professors of pharmaceutical sciences, are among 506 scientists, engineers and innovators who were recognized in 2022 for their contributions to science and society. They join 212 fellows from the University of Pittsburgh who have received the prestigious award since its inception in 1874.
“We are exceptionally proud of Huryn and Xie for receiving this prestigious recognition. Both are gifted scientists and accomplished faculty who are extremely deserving of this honor,” said Amy Seybert, dean of the School of Pharmacy and professor of pharmacy and therapeutics. “Pitt Pharmacy’s legacy of excellence continues to advance as evidenced by these esteemed scientific recognitions through AAAS.”
A medicinal and organic chemist, Donna Huryn spent almost 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry helping develop new drugs for HIV, cancer and other disorders, before switching to academia to work on translational research projects. Now, as a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, she focuses on designing and synthesizing small molecules as tools to interrogate novel biology and as drug discovery starting points that target conditions with unmet medical needs, including acute kidney injury, cancer and rare neurological diseases.
Huryn is passionate about teaching and mentoring students, and she co-founded the Empowering Women in Organic Chemistry conference to support female chemists in the traditionally male-dominated field. She is a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and has been awarded the ACS Philadelphia Section Award and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Association for Women in Science Lifetime Achievement Award, among other honors.
Wen Xie, professor and Joseph Koslow Endowed Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences, didn’t set out to be a pharmacy researcher. As a PhD student, he studied genes that regulate cancer. It was during his postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, that Xie discovered the scientific field that has defined his career. Xie studies proteins called nuclear receptors, which regulate cellular processes and metabolism of drugs and environmental chemicals. His research has implications for defining drug targets and developing new therapies for diseases such as liver fibrosis and cancer, understanding drug interactions, and personalizing therapies and drug doses in patients.
Xie, who joined Pitt in 2002, has published more than 200 scientific papers during his career and holds numerous awards, including the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award. His work has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health, including a recent eight-year National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Revolutionizing Innovative, Visionary Environmental Health Research (RIVER) R35 Award. Xie said he is dedicated to mentoring students and is enthusiastic about training the next generation of scientists.
— Asher Jones