Many Faces of UTHealth: An is searching for the next breakthrough drug

Published: January 24, 2017 by Rob Cahill

If you are looking for someone to help students and postdocs translate their scientific discoveries into new patient treatments, Zhiqiang An, Ph.D., would be your expert.

He’s held management and research positions in major pharmaceutical companies. And when he wasn’t supervising the work of others, An was doing his own research on antibody immune therapies for cancer and infectious diseases.

These are some of the reasons why An was recruited to direct the Texas Therapeutics Institute at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at McGovern Medical School.

Zhiqiang An, Ph.D.
Professor of molecular medicine
Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry
Director, Texas Therapeutic Institute,
McGovern Medical School

The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston

What is something you wish people knew about your institute?

At the Institute of Molecular Medicine, researchers from across the world are addressing a wide range of medical challenges. We are working on drug discovery, molecular imaging, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, human genetics and regenerative medicine.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

We have the potential to discover something new that will make a big difference in the health of others.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

I’m the founding director of the Texas Therapeutics Institute. We’ve only been around a short time but we are already one of the leading academic drug discovery centers in the country. We have secured significant amounts of funding from federal and state agencies and private foundations such as the National Institutes of Health, Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, The University of Texas System STARS program and the Welch Foundation. Texas Therapeutics Institute has also established significant collaborations with industry partners including Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

What is your typical day like?

My typical day involves applying for grants, managing existing projects, training student scientists and writing journal articles.

What is something few people know about you?

I’m a long distance runner. I run five miles a day to relax.

What is the one thing that is still on your bucket list?

I would like to run a marathon one day.


Zhiqiang An, Ph.D., is one of the Many Faces of UTHealth