Tsin, a mentor to many,
advances diversity

Published April 01 2018

“I have worked with Dr. Ruth Kirschstein for many years on NIH minority programs. I am very honored to receive this ASBMB award named after my esteemed colleague. To continue Dr. Kirschstein’s outstanding accomplishments in diversity initiatives, I will remain professionally and personally committed to increase diversity in science.”

— Andrew Tsin

Andrew Tsin, chair of the department of biomedical sciences and associate dean of research at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, has won the 2018 Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Minority Affairs Committee selects the winner of this award to recognize an outstanding scientist who has contributed significantly to increasing the participation of minorities in science.

Tsin, an expert in retinal neurobiology, has done notable work on the biochemistry of the visual cycle throughout his career. His prolific contributions to science have resulted in more than 300 journal articles, book chapters and meeting presentations. His research has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the 2015 Gold Fellow Award by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Tsin also is known as a scientific mentor who has contributed to the advancement of diversity in science. Robert Renthal, professor of biochemistry at the University of Texas at San Antonio, wrote in his nomination letter that Tsin “has an unusual ability to inspire students who are members of groups that are underrepresented in the sciences to successfully pursue careers in science” and that Tsin has “worked tirelessly, one-on-one, with research trainees in his lab, sustained over a period of more than 30 years.” Tsin has mentored 132 graduate and undergraduate students, including 112 members of groups underrepresented in the sciences. Of these, 20 have earned a Ph.D. in the sciences and 12 have earned an M.D. or D.D.S. Tsin’s mentoring also resulted in numerous journal publications with student first authors, Renthal wrote.

Tsin’s legacy of effectively increasing diversity in science goes beyond the walls of his lab. While at UTSA, where he spent most of his career before moving to UTRGV in 2016, he founded and directed the Center for Research and Training in the Sciences, securing more than $52 million in grants to support research and training programs for underrepresented minorities. Additionally, he served on the board of directors of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science from 2007 to 2009. Tsin’s contributions to the advancement of minorities in science earned him the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2011 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014.

Sonia C. Flores of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, chair of the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee, said, “Dr. Tsin has all the necessary attributes that Dr. Ruth Kirschstein championed during her career: compassion, empathy, service, and dedication to diversity in science while maintaining a rigorous and exceptional research career.”

Tsin will receive his award during the 2018 ASBMB Annual Meeting in San Diego, where he will deliver an award lecture on the biochemistry of ocular diseases. The presentation will take place at 8:30 a.m., April 24, in Room 6B in the San Diego Convention Center.

Nathalie Gerassimov Nathalie Gerassimov is a Ph.D. student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.