Pew Charitable Trusts announced that Noe Baruch Torres, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was selected as a 2022 Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences.
Baruch is one of 10 postdoctoral fellows from five Latin American countries—Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil—to receive two years of funding to conduct research in laboratories across the United States. They will work under the mentorship of prominent biomedical scientists, including alumni of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences, the Pew-Stewart Scholars Program for Cancer Research, and the Pew Latin American Fellows Program.
Baruch, who is from Mexico, will study the human mitochondrial replisome, a specialized protein complex machinery that cells use to copy the DNA found in their mitochondria.
“Biomedical research is a global effort requiring an imaginative, diverse community of scientists,” said Susan K. Urahn, Pew’s president and CEO. “Pew is proud to welcome such an innovative cohort from Latin America, whose work will explore new horizons in health and medicine.”
Baruch will work in the UTMB lab of his mentor, Dr. Yuhui Whitney Yin, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and in the Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics. His field of study is structural biology.
“In the Yin lab, I will study the human mitochondrial replisome, a specialized protein complex machinery that cells use to copy the DNA found in their mitochondria,” Baruch said.
Mitochondria are subcellular structures that maintain their own small genome, separate from the chromosomes found in the nucleus. Numerous diseases are caused by mutations that alter this DNA, including mutations that impair the activity of the replisome that copies it. Yet little is known about how the proteins within this dedicated complex work together to faithfully replicate mitochondrial DNA.
“Using advanced techniques in molecular biology and genetics, biochemistry and structural analysis, I will determine the atomic structure of an operational replication complex and characterize the contacts made by its constituent proteins, interactions that are critical for the complex to function,” Baruch said.
These findings could lead to novel therapeutics for a range of mitochondrial diseases, including neurological and muscular disorders and premature aging.
“I want to thank Dr. Yuhui Whitney Yin and her laboratory for all the support on this application because it is a competitive prize in which only 10 outstanding, young Latin American scientists are awarded every year to continue our training as post-docs in the United States of America,” Baruch said.