Leading Oncology Researcher Janet Houghton Joins Southern Research Drug Discovery Team

Janet-Houghton_edit-300x286BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Southern Research announced today Janet Houghton, Ph.D., has joined the Drug Discovery Oncology Department as senior research fellow and endowed chair in cancer biology.

Houghton comes to Southern Research from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, where she held various leadership and research roles and focused on adult colorectal cancer. Previously, she was with St. Jude Children’s Hospital in the Division of Molecular Therapeutics and the Division of Experimental Hematology in the Department of Hematology-Oncology.

Houghton’s more than 30 years of research has notably contributed to the understanding of the mechanism of action of 5-Fluorouracil in colon cancer, how death receptor signaling regulated by members of the TNF receptor superfamily impact cell death in cancers, and, subsequently, GLI (the transcriptional regulator of the Hedgehog signaling response) as a critical therapeutic target for drug discovery in cancer. She brings more than $2.5 million in funding from the National Cancer institute. She currently serves on several National Institutes of Health study sections and has been senior editor for Cancer Research for more than 12 years. She earned her education and training in the U.K., with a doctorate from the University of London.

“We are excited to have a dedicated, knowledgeable researcher of Janet’s caliber join our drug discovery team,” said Mark Suto, vice president, Drug Discovery. “Her extensive track record in cancer therapeutics and molecular and cell biology will significantly enhance our current research programs.”

At SR, Houghton will focus on new target identification, development of novel small molecule inhibitors of critical targets, mechanisms of drug action, drug resistance, and translational therapeutics spanning basic research to clinical trial. Specifically, she will lead research in determining the critical role of the transcription factor GLI in survival of colon cancer cells and other cancers that constitutively express GLI and mutant KRas, and she will work with investigators in drug discovery initiatives to develop pharmacologic agents against this target.

“Dr. Houghton’s expertise on fundamental cancer biology will significantly strengthen our oncology drug discovery efforts in the era of precision medicine,” said Bo Xu, M.D., Ph.D., senior research fellow and chair, Oncology Department. “For many decades, SR has been recognized as a leading institute for oncology drug discovery, and by adding a world-class scientist like Dr. Houghton, we will continue these successes.”

About Southern Research

SR_LOGO_pms29252Southern Research is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with more than 400 scientists and engineers working across four divisions: drug discovery, drug development, engineering, and energy and environment. We work on behalf of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, major aerospace firms, utility companies, and other private and government organizations as we solve the world’s hardest problems. SR, founded in 1941, is headquartered in Birmingham with additional laboratories and offices in Wilsonville and Huntsville, Frederick, Maryland, Durham, North Carolina, Cartersville, Georgia, and Houston. Visit SouthernResearch.org for more information.

Media Contact:

Rossi M. Carlson