Dr. Randall Urban
Vice President for Research &
Chief Research Officer

Dr. Randall Urban

Dr. Randall Urban leads a diverse research community in the bold mission to improve medical practice through progressive translational research endeavors. He has 130 peer-review publications, is the Principle Investigator of UTMB's Clinical Translational Science Award, and has 3 major research interests funded by the NIH and private foundations. In addition to vice president for research and chief research officer, Dr. Urban is Vice Dean for Clinical Research in the John Sealy School of Medicine, Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Institute for Translational Sciences, and Fellow, John P. McGovern Distinguished Chair in Oslerian Medicine.

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The Strategic Research Plan, which is used by leadership to  develop a path forward through goals, objectives and tactics, has broad input. It includes six integrated health communities that bring together researchers, educators, clinicians and community members to use prevention and treatment to transform illness to health. Read more.

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Sheetz wins Pearse Prize

The Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) has awarded Dr. Michael P. Sheetz the Pearse Prize for his “long and illustrious career in mechanobiological research”. 

Sheetz is best known for his role in the discovery of kinesin, a protein that helps move material inside a cell, and as founder director of the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore.  The molecular motors have excited much interest in the mechanism of force production that is illustrated in widely viewed videos of the movement.

During Sheetz’s time as director, the Institute researchers discovered many important aspects of how cells use mechanical forces to shape organisms and repair wounds.   

Sheetz’s recent research built upon studies of the cell cytoskeletons that serve as walking surfaces for motor proteins as well as shaping the cells. His lab has shown how the inability of cancer cells to sense extracellular matrix rigidity enables them to grow on soft surfaces and makes them susceptible to mechanical killing by low frequency ultrasound. 

“We are now looking for ways to increase the level of tumor cell killing to make low frequency ultrasound an effective therapy,” Sheetz said.  

Sheetz is the Robert A Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Since 2013, he has been on the list of 20 most influential medical researchers alive today. He has 357 publications, has been cited more than 66,000 times, and is senior author on 11 Cell Papers, 10 Nature Papers and six Science Papers. Sheetz’s work continues to focus on understanding mechanical therapies at the molecular level to benefit human health. 

He will travel to Manchester, UK next summer to accept the Pearse Prize and give an RMS lecture.  

“It’s a very nice recognition of the work that we've done in the past and it's always nice that somebody appreciates those things that you've done,” Sheetz said.  

The Pearse Prize recognizes significant contributions to histochemistry and life sciences in honor of Professor Tony Pearse, the first chair of the RMS Histochemistry and Cytochemistry Section, founded in 1965. Sheetz is the tenth recipient of the award since its inception in 1982. The award is usually given every four or five years, and only if there is a suitable candidate.