Alpini named the 2016 Takeda Distinguished Scientist, honored for work in gastrointestinal field

February 26, 2015
Alipini, Gianfranco

Gianfranco Alpini, Ph.D., distinguished professor of internal medicine and medical physiology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

Gianfranco Alpini, Ph.D., distinguished professor of internal medicine and medical physiology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine, was recently named the 2016 Takeda Distinguished Scientist by the Gastrointestinal & Liver Section of the American Physiological Society.

The second most prestigious recognition offered by the Gastrointestinal & Liver Section of the American Physiological Society, the Takeda award is given annually to an outstanding investigator who is internationally recognized for contributions to research in gastrointestinal and liver physiology.

Alpini joined the Texas A&M College of Medicine faculty in 1994 and holds the Nicholas C. Hightower Centennial Chair in Gastroenterology at Scott & White.  Just last year, Alpini was appointed a university distinguished professor, which is among the highest honors awarded to Texas A&M University faculty members.

As a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research Scholar Award recipient, he also serves as a research scientist with the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS) as well as director of the Digestive Disease Research Center (DDRC) at Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH).  The major goal and objective of the DDRC is to discover novel ideas and research findings regarding the digestive system and the liver diseases that affect millions in the United States.

“It is a great honor to represent the university with this distinguished award, and I hope to continue promoting excellence through research and education for many years to come,” Alpini said.  “Thank you for all of the support that I and the DDRC have received from TAMHSC, BSWH and CTVHCS.”

Throughout his career, Alpini has made novel contributions to the science of cholangiocytes (epithelial cells that line the bile duct), the biliary system, melatonin synthesis, clock gene regulation, and the understanding of the role of secretin, a hormone that regulates secretions of the stomach and pancreas and other functions.  His work has led to the development of therapies for specific cholangiocyte/biliary disorders including a biliary and liver cancer, alcoholic liver injury, liver regeneration, primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.

The goal of Alpini’s current research is to determine the molecular mechanisms by which stem cell derived microvesicles contribute to the recovery of biliary injury through non-coding eRNA and cellular senescence related mechanisms. Alpini’s research program is funded by the National Institutes of Health, VA Merit Award and Research Career Scientist Award and the Hightower S&W endowed chair in Gastroenterology.

Alpini has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles, reviews and book chapters, as well as more than 300 abstracts.  He is a Fellow of the American Gastroenterological Association and serves as an editor or on the editorial board of a number of prestigious scientific journals.  He is also a permanent member of the Hepatobiliary Pathophysiology (HBPP) NIH Study Section.  His research team was recognized with a prestigious Research and Development Award for Department of Veterans Affairs Scientists by the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.

— Katherine Hancock

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