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Hudson lands top award from matrix biology group

Dec. 6, 2012, 10:47 AM

Billy Hudson, Ph.D.

Billy Hudson, Ph.D., an internationally known expert on kidney diseases at Vanderbilt University, is the recipient of the 2012 Senior Investigator Award from the American Society for Matrix Biology (ASMB) — its highest honor.

The award recognizes “established researchers for outstanding, continued contributions to the field” of matrix biology.

It was presented last month at the society’s biennial meeting in San Diego, which was held in conjunction with the Society for Glycobiology.

“I am greatly honored by this prestigious award,” said Hudson, the Elliott V. Newman Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Pathology, and director of the Center for Matrix Biology.

“I accepted it on behalf of the many talented students and fellows who have matriculated through my lab. It is their creativity and discoveries that positioned me for the award.”

The award recognizes Hudson’s contributions to understanding type IV collagen, which is uniquely found in the basement membrane that underlies all epithelial cells, noted Jeffrey Davidson, Ph.D., professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt and incoming ASMB president.

Hudson’s fundamental findings include determining the primary structure of the portion of the collagen molecule (NC1) that brings the three chains of collagen together into a rope-like structure and helps stabilize a complex network that functions as part of the kidney filtration barrier.

This network is directly involved in autoimmune Goodpasture syndrome, hereditary Alport syndrome and diabetic nephropathy, which are major causes of kidney failure.

More recently, Hudson, Roberto Vanacore, Ph.D., Gautam (Jay) Bhave, M.D., Ph.D., and their colleagues reported the discovery of a novel chemical bond as well as the enzyme responsible for generating this bond that reinforces collagen IV networks in connective tissue throughout the body and which has preserved throughout evolution.

Contributing to the research were the “Aspirnauts,” high school students from rural Arkansas and Tennessee who participate in a summer research program at Vanderbilt supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program was established in 2007 by Hudson, an Arkansas native, and his wife, Julie Hudson, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

On Nov. 12 Hudson received a standing ovation for his award lecture in San Diego, entitled “Collagen IV Glycoprotein: An Essential Innovation at the Dawn of Tissue Evolution.”

Vanderbilt faculty members Ambra Pozzi, Ph.D., Roy Zent, M.D., Ph.D., and Andries Zijlstra, Ph.D., also participated in the meeting, and graduate student Karinna Almodovar presented her work.

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