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Faculty Focus: Huxing Cui, PhD

Date: Monday, March 6, 2017

Meet Huxing Cui, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology.

What is your hometown?

Jilin, China

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

January 2014

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

Although exploring something unknown has always been a rewarding process for me, my real interest to do biomedical research developed relatively late when I started my medical school in China. 

What interested you to pursue a career in Pharmacology?

Providing a better treatment option for human diseases is a major goal of most current biomedical research, and I believe developing an effective medication is at the center of this effort. To this end, we need to understand how diseases develop, and test what can be used to stop or cure diseases. My hope is that someday my basic research discoveries can provide a treatment for a human disease.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I was fortunate to have had many wonderful mentors throughout my scientific training. My postdoctoral mentor, Dr. Michael Lutter, was instrumental in developing my independent scientific career and beyond.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?

After over 3 years of postdoctoral training in UT Southwestern center at Dallas, I moved to the University of Iowa along with my former postdoctoral mentor Dr. Michael Lutter.  Here, I continued my postdoctoral training and complete some ongoing research projects with him. After finishing my further training at the University of Iowa, I accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the department of pharmacology in April 2016.

As I did my postdoctoral training here, I realized how wonderful the University of Iowa is in terms of the level of biomedical research in my research field and opportunity to develop new collaboration.

The University of Iowa’s faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient centered care and education?

The basic research I’m currently doing with different rodent models is based on a clear association with human diseases. I hope that our research discoveries in rodent models can provide mechanistic insights into human diseases and eventually help to develop an effective way to treat human diseases.

What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?

Being at a premier academic medical center, provides tremendous opportunities to get in close touch with different kinds of research activities, which sometime end up with great collaboration.

Please describe your professional interests.

My main research interest is to better map the complicated network of neural circuits and uncover signaling mechanisms that control reward behavior, metabolic homeostasis and cardiovascular function.

What led to your interest in your field?

Clearly, my postdoctoral training with mentors from different research background fostered and directed my research interest.

How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?

Oftentimes, current biomedical research requires a multidisciplinary approach to address a single scientific question from different angles. I’m fortunate to be in the environment with wonderful scientists around.  My research relies on collaboration with investigators who have different expertise. 

What are some of your outside interests?

I spend most of my time with my family when I’m not working. I also enjoy swimming, fishing and playing soccer with my preteen girl and toddler boy.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

Hard work always pays off.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of medicine/science), what would it be?

Build a better system to ensure scientists can be more dedicated to explore the unknown world.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Technology, particularly for neuroscience.

I can’t imagine what kind of new tools will be developed over the next 5 years or so to facilitate our deeper understanding of how the brain works.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Be excited about what you are doing.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine/science?

I think personalized medicine and individualized care will be the future of medicine.

In what ways are you engaged with the greater Iowa public (i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagements off campus, etc.)?

We always present our scientific findings at different meetings including Society for Neuroscience, American Heart Association, and Endocrine Society meeting.

Occasionally the findings we publish in scientific papers will be highlighted for the public.

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