Gigi Lozano

Gigi Lozano

Each year the ASCB Minorities Affairs Committee chooses an outstanding underrepresented minority (URM) scientist who is known not only for his or her scientific achievements but also for mentoring other URM students and scientists. The 2018 recipient of the E.E. Just Award is Guillermina (Gigi) Lozano, professor and chair of the Department of Genetics, Division of Basic Science Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Lozano will present the E.E. Just Award Lecture on Sunday, December 9, at 11:00 am at the 2018 ASCB|EMBO Meeting.

Lozano has spent her career gaining insight into the functional mechanism of cancer-associated genes.

Using the mouse as her model organism, Lozano has spent her career gaining insight into the functional mechanism of cancer-associated genes. She is recognized for her studies of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway.

“Mutation of the p53 gene is a critical event in the elaboration of many tumors of diverse origin,” writes Lozano. “The p53 protein is activated in response to DNA damage, serving as a checkpoint in the elimination or repair of cells with damaged DNA. Alterations in components of the p53 pathway, such as amplification of the Mdm2 gene, which encodes a p53 inhibitor, also contribute to tumorigenesis. The overall goal of my laboratory is to understand the signals that regulate the p53 pathway and the consequences of expressing wild-type or mutant p53.”

Brian Lewis, associate professor of Molecular, Cell, and Cancer Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, remarked on the impact of Lozano’s work and on her record of helping to increase diversity in the biomedical sciences.

“Dr. Lozano is an accomplished scientist whose work over the past 30 years at MD Anderson has contributed significantly to our understanding of the p53 tumor suppressor and the basic mechanisms underlying tumor development and progression,” Lewis wrote in his nomination letter. “During her illustrious career as an independent scientist, Dr. Lozano has maintained a primary focus on understanding how the p53 protein functions within the cell, how the protein is regulated by its binding partner Mdm2, and how tumor-associated mutations impact the normal cellular functions of the protein. These studies have illuminated not only sporadic cancers but also inherited predisposition syndromes such as the Li-Fraumeni syndrome.”

He added, “During her tenure as a faculty member at MD Anderson, Dr. Lozano has trained over 30 undergraduates, 12 of whom are from underrepresented backgrounds, and over 30 PhD and MS students, including 5 from underrepresented backgrounds. Her efforts to further the diversity of the biomedical workforce were recently recognized with the 2018 President’s Leadership Award for Advancing Women and Minority Faculty at MD Anderson.”

Lozano earned her PhD at Rutgers University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton in the laboratory of Arnold Levine, where she began her career-long exploration of p53 function. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University.

Mary Spiro

Mary Spiro is ASCB's Science Writer and Social Media Manager.