An accomplished young, clinical investigator who has earned an international reputation in the field of nutrition and lipid metabolism, Dr. Horton is currently an associate professor of molecular genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
A senior honors research project at the University of Iowa on cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism blossomed into a career in academic medicine for Jay Horton. The Fairfield, Iowa, native remembers how working with Jeffrey Field, MD, UI professor of internal medicine, was a great opportunity for a third-year medical student.
“I didn’t anticipate how much fun it would be,” he said. Although research projects are now an important part of the curriculum, at that point it was a senior elective. “It was a big sacrifice on the part of the faculty member to supervise a research project. Field was a great mentor.”
For his part, Field remembers Horton as “a very hard working, conscientious student; tenacious; who approached his research project with enthusiasm and energy.” Noting his international reputation in the field, Field said that his scholarly accomplishments “are those of a seasoned investigator.” After Iowa, Horton went to the University of Texas for his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in gastroenterology, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship as a Howard Hughes Investigator for Physicians.
Horton’s research focuses on the molecular mediators of steatosis and has found that primary transcriptional regulators of cholesterol metabolism also are key regulators of fatty acid synthesis and composition in liver. The laboratory is seeking to determine how these transcriptional regulators contribute to the development of steatosis in various disease processes such as diabetes, obesity, and beta-oxidation defects.
A second area of interest is determining the function of PCSK9, a protein that is involved in determining plasma LDL cholesterol levels through its ability to post-transcriptionally regulate the expression of the LDL receptor in the liver. He and his collaborators previously found that the lack of a key protein involved in cholesterol regulation resulted in low-density lipoprotein, more than 50 percent lower in mice, suggesting that inhibiting the same protein in humans could lead to new cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Horton has received a number of honors and awards, including an Industry Research Scholar Award from the American Gastroenterology Association, and American Heart Association Established Investigator and PEW Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor that the UI Carver College of Medicine bestows upon its outstanding graduates. Established in 1998, this awards program recognizes our former students and colleagues who have transcended their fundamental roles as health care providers, scientists and educators to become influential participants in the advancement of the art and science of medicine. Excellence in these areas brings pride and distinction to The University of Iowa and our Carver College of Medicine.
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