The UNC School of Medicine has selected Jen Jen Yeh, MD, professor and vice chair of research for the department of surgery, and joint professor of pharmacology, for one of two annual awards in honor of Oliver Smithies, UNC’s first Nobel Prize winner.

Jen Jen Yeh, MD

January 31, 2018

The UNC School of Medicine selected Jen Jen Yeh, MD, professor and vice chair of research for the department of surgery, and Brian Strahl, PhD, professor and vice chair of the department of biochemistry and biophysics, as Smithies Investigators, an annual award to honor senior faculty members who have made significant research contributions and achieved international recognition for their work. Both are members of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Yeh has a joint appointment in the department of pharmacology.

The award was established in honor of the research achievements of UNC Nobel Prize Winner Oliver Smithies, DPhil, the Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The Smithies Investigators receive $75,000 for research over a five-year term, become members of the Oliver Smithies Society, and will present highlights of their research accomplishments at a special seminar in the fall.

Yeh was recruited to the UNC School of Medicine in 2005 and has been one of the most successful surgeon-scientists at UNC. She has an active surgical oncology practice focused on endocrine and pancreatic cancers. Her research lab focuses on identifying and studying novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Recently her group identified new subtypes for pancreatic cancer, research that was published in Nature Genetics. Using her surgical expertise she also initiated a large Patient-Derived Xenograft Program with a major emphasis on the establishment of both primary and metastatic pancreatic tumors in order to use this platform for therapeutic and biomarker evaluation.

Yeh recently led the UNC Pancreas Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) submission and is a co-investigator on many NIH grants focused on topics as diverse as biostatistics and microfluidics. Her work has resulted in three patents, and she is well-recognized in her field of surgical oncology. Yeh has received multiple prestigious awards, including an American Surgical Foundation Research Fellowship, the Clinical Investigator Award from the Society of Surgical Oncology, and she was inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation, an honor society for physician-researchers.

~above is excerpted from an article by Carleigh Gabriel on SOM Newsroom, “Yeh and Strahl named Smithies Investigators,” published Jan. 31, 2018 – read full article here.