Dr. Allan Dean Sherry
Professor of chemistry
Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Systems Biology
Dean Sherry's career at UT Dallas began nearly 40 years ago and has since grown as much as the campus itself. Sherry researches ways of refining diagnostic tools that may one day lead to better, more insightful diagnoses of medical conditions ranging from cancer to heart disease.
Sherry also is the director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center housed at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he has a dual appointment as a professor of radiology.
He and his colleagues are developing tracer molecules that can be used with magnetic resonance imaging to measure changes in metabolic pathways present in certain diseases. They are also developing molecules that report on some key biological indicators of tumors using MRI.
"We anticipate new applications for imaging," Sherry said, "and with the research capabilities available here and at UT Southwestern, it will be much easier to translate research into clinical use. We are interested in visualizing metabolism in the human body in real time as it occurs."
He said further research into imaging agents coupled with the research capabilities at the Advanced Imaging Research Center, scientists may be able to gain some understanding of the mechanisms involved in human metabolism as it relates to obesity.
Sherry earned his bachelor's degree at Wisconsin State University and his doctorate from Kansas State University. He was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at New Mexico State University.
Originally hired as an inorganic chemist at UT Dallas, Sherry quickly developed an interest in biochemistry and, together with a cardiologist from UT Southwestern, developed the tools necessary to follow metabolism in tissues using a stable isotope of carbon (carbon-13) that is detected by MRI.
"This provided me with new insights into how cells work and had a big impact on the path that my research took over the past 25 years," he said.
Sherry also founded a small company, Macrocyclics, a UT Dallas spinoff that produces specialized chemical compounds used in pharmaceutical and academic research.
The estate of Cecil H. and Ida Green donated the funds in 1993 that created the endowed position in 1995. Sherry filled the chair in September 2005. The legacy of Cecil H. and Ida Green at The University of Texas at Dallas was to establish in Dallas a world-class cohort of faculty and students in the new domain of integrated interdisciplinary biomedical research. The resources and talents of UT Dallas and UT Southwestern are combined under the guidance of the two institutions' Green Centers. Endowments were generated for faculty members whose research expertise lies at one of the interfaces between biomedical science and physical, mathematical, computational or engineering science, emphasizing in particular research that will create synergy with research at UT Southwestern.
Sherry's lab is developing the next generation of MRI contrast agents that report out important tissue abnormalities such as changes in acidity, oxidative stress, and metabolism.
"My background in chemistry, metabolism and imaging provides me with unique insights that many chemistry professors never have the opportunity to have experienced. I am motivated by the feeling that my research can make an impact in society."