Environmental Health Chair Recognized Nationally With Urologic Research Excellence Award
Published June 2007
Shuk-mei Ho, PhD, professor and chair of UC’s environmental health department, recently became the second person to receive the Women in Urology Award for Excellence in Urologic Research. The award is presented jointly by the Society of Women in Urology and the Society of Basic Urologic Research.
Ho, who was unanimously chosen as the 2007 recipient, accepted the award at the annual meeting of the Society of Women in Urology in Anaheim, Calif., on May 20.
“Although urology is a male-dominated field, women have been performing outstanding urological research for decades—and Shuk-mei is right at the very front of those efforts,” said David Stern, MD, dean of UC’s College of Medicine. “This national recognition is overdue and very well deserved.”
The award was established in 2006 to honor leading female scientists with a distinguished record of producing top-notch urologic research and for significant contributions to the field of urology.
“Having your work recognized by your scientific peers is the highest honor an investigator can receive,” said Ho. “I am proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fabulous women leaders in the field of urology and in science.”
An expert in hormonal carcinogenesis, Ho focuses on the significance of hormones and endocrine disruptors in the development of breast, ovary, endometrial and prostate tumors. In the June 2006 edition of Cancer Research, she reported the first evidence of a direct link between chemical exposure while in the womb and prostate cancer development later in life.
In this laboratory study, Ho and her University of Illinois collaborator, Gail Prins, PhD, found that animals exposed to low doses of the natural human estrogen estradiol, or the environmental estrogen bisphenol A (BPA), during fetal development were more likely to develop an early form of human prostate cancer (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia) than those who were not exposed.
Their findings suggested that exposure to environmental and natural estrogens during fetal development could affect the way prostate genes behave, leading to higher rates of prostate disease during aging.
Ho has also pioneered research investigating the involvement of estrogenic compounds as potential cause factors and therapeutics for prostate cancer and male infertility. In 2006, she reported the unique functions of new isoforms of estrogen receptor-beta in the August 29 issue of PNAS, which laid a foundation for the development of safer drugs treatments for these urological disorders.
Ho holds more than $5 million in research grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.