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iUTMB  •  Published Monday, August 11, 2014, 3:24 PM

Welcome Dr. Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco as chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Dr.  Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco has agreed to join UTMB as chair of our Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Garcia-Blanco will start his tenure with us later this year. As chair of BMB, Dr. Garcia-Blanco will lead efforts to further excellence in research, education, mentoring and scholarship that have broad fundamental, translational and clinical impact.

Dr. Garcia-Blanco will join us after 24 years at Duke University, where he is currently the Charles D. Watts Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Duke Center for RNA Biology. He is also Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.

Dr. Garcia-Blanco was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until he was accepted into Harvard College in 1973. Subsequently, he received his MD as well as a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University. He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Phillip Sharp, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Sharp joined MIT's Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute) in 1974 and earned the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Dr. Garcia-Blanco has made seminal contributions to the study of RNAbiology and virology. His studies on mRNA have improved our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate splicing during disease, and introduced a new type of RNA based therapy. Dr. Garcia-Blanco and his team pioneered imaging of alternative splicing events in vivo, visualizing splicing changes that accompany phenotypic transitions among metastatic cancer cells in living animalsand in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. Over the last ten years, Dr. Garcia-Blancohas focused his RNA expertise on pathogenic flaviviruses, which threaten both US and global public healthand for which there are no approved therapies.

Dr. Garcia-Blanco's research efforts have been tremendously successful securing peer-reviewed funding. He has published over 120 research articles, reviews or book chapters. He was recognized as a Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation Scholar between 1997 - 2002. He was elected to the Association of American Physicians in 2011, recognized as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011, and as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2013. Dr. Garcia-Blanco has served on the editorial boards of Molecular and Cellular Biology, RNA and Scientific Reports. He was permanent member and chair of the NIH's Study Section on Biochemistry and then served as a member of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council.