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Vishwanatha receives Presidential Award for mentoring work

October 17, 2019

Jk Web

Regents Professor Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, PhD, is one of three educators in the state and 15 nationwide who have been named recipients of Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Dr. Vishwanatha, Vice President and Principal Investigator for the National Research Mentoring Network and Director of the Texas Center for Health Disparities, will receive the award in a Washington, D.C., ceremony on Thursday.

The Presidential Award is a great honor, especially to be recognized among such excellent educators and mentors, Dr. Vishwanatha said.

“I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to make a difference in the lives of many individuals,” he said. “It is gratifying to see them as successful citizens contributing to the scientific advancement in our country. The award is a recognition of the important role of mentoring in developing and diversifying our national science workforce.”

White House officials said the award recognizes the critical role mentors play outside the traditional classroom setting in the academic and professional development of the future STEM workforce. Individual nominations are reviewed based on the impact, significance and quality of their mentoring activities. Colleagues, administrators and students nominate individuals and organizations for exemplary mentoring sustained over a minimum of five years.

Recipients receive a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

Charles Taylor, PharmD, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, praised Dr. Vishwanatha.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment by Dr. Vishawanatha, and I’m so pleased he is being recognized at the highest level for his leadership and commitment to the development of STEM.”

Dr. Vishwanatha serves as a mentor to students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty who have trained in his laboratory. He also promotes opportunities for under-represented students and faculty through various institutional, regional and national programs. Together, these activities have resulted in mentoring of more than 3,200 students and faculty.

As a faculty member, Dr. Vishwanatha has personally trained and mentored 36 undergraduate students from the partnerships he has built with minority-serving institutions.

He has personally mentored 17 graduate students, including 10 women and six individuals from other under-represented and disadvantaged groups. Of the six, two are faculty, one is working in the biotechnology industry, one is a veterinary doctor, and two are currently in PhD programs. He has personally trained 19 postdocs, five of whom are women. Eight of the postdocs have achieved faculty positions, nine are in the biotechnology industry, and two are in non-academic positions.

He is currently the principal investigator for two short-term research-training programs, a Center for Excellence in Health Disparities program, a Department of Defense-funded prostate cancer-training program for under-represented students, and a minority-based training program.

Dr. Vishwanatha said that as a mentor he feels it is of critical importance to demonstrate a strong commitment from himself and to expect the same from those he mentors. An important focus of his mentorship is to impact self-reliance in the career development of his mentees.

Exercise Science Student Presents Study on Asthma

(DENTON, Texas)–This summer, Yeremyah Phillips ’20 completed a ten-week internship at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in their Summer Multicultural Advancement Research Training (SMART) program. He worked on a research project and presented a poster and abstract titled “Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Lung Function in Those with Asthma: NHANES 2007 to 2012.”The study found that “Physical conditioning through moderate to high levels of aerobic exercise…will significantly reduce asthma and improve lung function.”

Beneficial Results

Phillips and his mentor, Dr. Harlan Jones Ph.D.
Phillips and his mentor, Dr. Harlan Jones Ph.D.

“It’s exciting to have a response that matched my hypothesis,” Phillips said. “These results could actually help people with asthma. That’s been the most inspiring part.”

Phillips is the first author of the abstract, meaning he conducted the majority of the research. He created a literature review of a data set from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, wrote the paper, and created a cell diagram showing where exercise can help reduce asthma in the body.

Phillips has submitted his project to the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). If his project is accepted, he will have the opportunity to present it in Hawaii and Anaheim, California, respectively.

A Strong Academic Foundation

Phillips at the UNT Health Science Center
Phillips at the UNT Health Science Center

Phillips is a senior majoring in Exercise Science with a minor in Leadership. He works as a physical therapy technician at Hendrick and as a chemistry tutor on campus. Phillips is involved at HSU as the president of the Physical Therapy Club and the Student Government representative for Gamma Beta Phi honor society. He is currently applying to PT school and hopes to attend HSU’s program.

“HSU has lots of resources and opportunities,” Phillips said. “I’ve found a lot of ways to build my resume and prepare for grad school. It’s a small school, but we have lots of mentors and advisors to help you along the way.”

Phillips’ abstract is available here.


The SMART program brings undergraduate students to the UNT Health Science Center campus to participate in a 10-week biomedical sciences project. Participants become familiar with the varied disciplines and methodology used in biomedical research.

SMART is a program for multicultural students made possible in part by the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The NIH has designated African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and Mainland Puerto Ricans as underrepresented populations in the sciences. However, through additional funding provided by our corporate partners, UNT Health Science Center invites applications from all interested students.

Supporting young adults with cancer


Providing better care and support to patients like Parker is the focus of a partnership between the UNT Health Science Center and the Fort Worth AYA (Adolescents and Young Adults) Oncology Coalition, a nonprofit foundation made up of healthcare providers, service organizations and more than 100 healthcare professionals, cancer survivors, caregivers and volunteers.

Cancer Web2

Paul Bowman, MD, and Riyaz Basha, PhD

UNTHSC splits $2.2 million cancer disparities grant –  Fort Worth Star Telegram, Alex Branch

“This is a true partnership,” Dr. Jones said. “We have many faculty performing innovative cancer research at UNT Health Science Center, and we are excited to collaborate once again with Langston University.”- Dr. Harlan Jones,  PhD, Director of the UNHSC Center for Diversity and International Programs

Cancer Web


More Inclusive Clinical Trials, Minority Doctors Could Help Close Gap In American Health – March 2018, Stephanie Kuo, KERA News

“If we want to make use of all of the innovation, if we want to make use of all of the new advances in the medical and biomedical fields, we need to also make sure our workforce is reflective of our population.”- Dr. Vishwanatha

Nmrn Star Program Students During A Round Table Discussion At Unthsc.


New Study Highlights Bone-Targeted Nanoparticle Treatment for Prostate Cancer – November 2017

“Jamboor K Vishwanatha, Ph.D. and his group from University of North Texas Health Science Center designed the NP formulation to bind to the bone’s chemical structure and were effective at maintaining bone structure, reducing tumor size and decreasing pain.” – AZO Nano


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