HOUSTON ― In recognition of her trailblazing work uncovering the mechanisms of the p53 tumor suppressor, Guillermina “Gigi” Lozano, Ph.D., chair of Genetics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has received the 2022 Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Since its inception in 1947, the AAMC Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences has annually honored an individual or team of two individuals whose research has contributed to significant scientific discoveries benefitting human health and well-being, who participate in research beyond their own work through mentorship or review panels, and whose standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity are of the highest caliber. Lozano is the second MD Anderson researcher to be selected for this award, with James Allison, Ph.D., honored in 2014.
“Gigi’s key discoveries in the field of cancer biology are of tremendous importance, enabling a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that drive tumor development and treatment response. These breakthroughs are necessary for advancing the field and improving the care we bring to our patients,” said Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer. “Her commitment to research excellence strengthens our entire MD Anderson community, and we applaud her for this well-deserved recognition.”
Lozano is internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost cancer researchers. She was the first to establish p53 as a transcriptional activator of other genes and highlighted its mutation or deletion as a hallmark of more than 90% of cancers. She also identified the physiological roles of the Mdm2 and Mdm4 proteins as gatekeepers in cancer development and in regulating p53, providing the backbone for potentially using Mdm2/4 inhibitors as a novel targeted therapy approach .
“I am flattered to be recognized for our work on the p53 tumor suppressor pathway and want to thank members of my laboratory for all of their contributions,” Lozano said. “I look forward to continuing our exciting research and advancing new discoveries that will bring us closer to our mission to end cancer.”
Lozano also discovered the key mechanism through which breast cancers with mutant p53 respond better to chemotherapy than those with wild-type p53, and she led the development of laboratory models of mutant p53 that more accurately represent breast and pancreatic cancers. The Lozano laboratory at MD Anderson remains focused on understanding the effects of wild-type or mutant p53 on the tumor microenvironment and on genomic stability in cancer development and progression.
Lozano graduated magna cum laude with degrees in biology and mathematics from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, continuing to Princeton University for a postdoctoral fellowship. She joined MD Anderson in 1987 and has published 261 articles in peer-reviewed journals, reviews and book chapters over the course of her 35 years at the institution, rising to her current position as chair of the department of Genetics. She has also mentored many young scientists, with 33 graduate students receiving their M.S. and Ph.D. degrees under her direction and 29 postdoctoral fellows having trained in her lab.
Lozano is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy. She has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her many honors, she has received the Hubert L. Olive Stringer Distinguished Chair in Oncology in Honor of Sue Gribble Stringer in 2018, the AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship and AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship awards, and the 2018 MD Anderson President’s Leadership Award for Advancing Women and Minority Faculty.