University of New Mexico University of New Mexico

Prossnitz and Deretic Promoted to Distinguished Professors

Vojo Deretic, PhD, departmental chair of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Eric R. Prossnitz, PhD, professor and chief, Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, were recently promoted to the rank of Distinguish Professor, the highest faculty title bestowed by UNM. The designation is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their careers and who are nationally and internationally renowned as scholars.

Vojo Deretic, Ph.D., departmental chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the UNM Health Sciences Center is the director of the NIH-funded Autophagy, Inflammation and Metabolism (AIM) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, which promotes autophagy research nationally and internationally.  

He received his undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral education in Belgrade, Paris, and Chicago. His main contributions to science come from studies by his team on the role of autophagy in infection and immunity.

Recently, his group has become interested in the specific connections between metabolic roles of autophagy and its quality control functions. The most recently published work from his laboratory has revealed a new complex named GALTOR that regulates mTOR on lysosomes in response to lysosomal damage. This is of general significance and of specific importance in the context of autophagic homeostasis of organelles and metabolic reprograming during endomembrane damage.

Dr. Eric Prossnitz is an internationally renowned expert in drug discovery and development, cellular signaling and estrogen physiology, with a focus on G protein-coupled receptors and breast cancer. His work has led to paradigm-shifting concepts of estrogen action in the body and the development of new therapeutic drugs for cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Prossnitz has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, with over 18,000 citations and an H-index of 74, and has a number of patents that have led to the creation of multiple start-up companies. For more than 10 years, he has served as a program leader (currently in Cancer Therapeutics) in the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he holds the Maralyn S. Budke Endowed Chair in Cancer Chemical Biology and Therapeutics. He has led the Team Science and Commercialization component of the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center since 2012.

Through his own research grants and participation in programmatic grants, he has brought more than $50 million to UNM. He has advised and trained over 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows as well as more that 10 junior faculty.


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