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Two Texas A&M Health faculty named Distinguished Professors

Roderick Dashwood and Virender Sharma receive Texas A&M’s highest faculty honor
Dr. Roderick Dashwood and Dr. Virender Sharma

Texas A&M University has awarded the title of University Distinguished Professor, its highest faculty award, to two faculty members at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health): Roderick Dashwood, PhD, and Virender Sharma, PhD.

University Distinguished Professors are pre-eminent authorities in their fields and have made a least one original or substantial leap forward in scholarship that has had a notable impact. Their accomplishments are “exemplified by outstanding teaching, mentoring, discovery and service,” according to the award website. Dashwood and Sharma are among eight 2023 Texas A&M University Distinguished Professors.

Roderick Dashwood’s research focuses on genetic, epigenetic and immunologic mechanisms in cancer development. His work initially focused on the genetic aspects of colorectal cancer, including key contributions in the area of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, and then moved into the realm of epigenetics with the discovery of the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory activity of sulforaphane. Subsequent multi-omic studies dovetailed the gut microbiome with host transcriptomics and metabolomic alterations linked to interferon-g signaling. Current immunoepigenetic research encompasses histone and non-histone modifications, DNA methylation, and noncoding RNAs affecting antigen-presentation mechanisms, in the continuum from cell-based assays and preclinical models into human translational studies.

Dashwood directs the Regents-designated Center for Epigenetics & Disease Prevention at the Texas A&M Health Institute of Biosciences and Technology, located in the world-famous Texas Medical Center in Houston. His scholarly activities comprise more than 350 abstracts, book chapters and peer-reviewed publications (h-index 77). Professional honors include Regents’ Medals for Excellence in Teaching (1995) and Excellence in Research (1997) from the University of Hawaii, and the Rice University Institute of Biosciences & Bioengineering Medical Innovation Award (2017). He served as a consultant to the U.S. National Toxicology Program in preparing the 11th Report on Carcinogens (2004), was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (2017) and chaired the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cancer Prevention Study Section (2020-22).

Virender Sharma is a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, and director of the Program on Environmental and Sustainability, which addresses environment and sustainability challenges in Texas, the United States and internationally through the development of innovative approaches in research, training and outreach. Sharma has made exceptional contributions in the field concerning the occurrence and remediation of toxins, antibiotics, antibiotics resistance bacteria and genes, and nanoparticles to address real-world challenges of water sustainability. Sharma’s mission is “saving lives, even one life.”

Sharma has published more than 420 peer-reviewed journal publications, has authored one and edited seven books. He is the most published researcher on ferrate in the world. Sharma has been recognized as a “Highly Cited Researcher” (top 1 percent) by the Clarivate (Web of Science) and has more than 35,000 Google Scholar citations (h-index 91). His distinguished awards include Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society and Royal Society of Chemistry, Steven K. Dentel AEESP Award for Global Outreach, Bush Excellence Award for International Research, Outstanding Distinguished Scientist Award by Sigma Xi (Texas A&M University Chapter) and Invited Professorships in France.

In 2022 Dashwood and Sharma were both ranked in the top 2 percent of scientists worldwide, based on a study conducted by Stanford University. “World’s Top 2% Scientists” is a publicly available database of the 100,000 most-cited authors across all scientific fields.

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