Antentor Hinton Jr., PhD, assistant professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at the School of Medicine Basic Sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., has been awarded a grant from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Science Diversity Leadership program.
The $1.15 million, five-year grant will support his work on “finding organelle contacts in human tissue across ethnicities to increase representation in research,” according to information on the CZI website.
The Hinton Laboratory’s expertise ranges from understanding the molecular mechanisms of cellular communication to developing automated imaging techniques for solving 3D structures of organelles, such as mitochondria, and the interactions among them in human disease. To accomplish this, the Hinton laboratory uses a novel imaging technology called Focus Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy, which allows the high-resolution reconstruction of objects in 3D. With FIB-SEM, the Hinton lab can unravel how structural changes in organelles or in organelle contact sites contribute to some of the most devastating diseases worldwide, such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
“The CZI grant means the world to me,” Hinton said. “It means that I can enlarge my territory drastically as it relates to network, resources, commitment to diversity and scientific outreach. And, with this grant, my laboratory can accomplish cutting-edge research on how mitochondria transition from ‘normal morphology’ to ‘pathological morphology’ in humans. This will allow us to sharpen the medical and scientific fields’ understanding of how we can identify diseases in the future through a biopsy.”
Hinton is an alumni of the Endocrine Society’s FLARE (Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology) program where he served as an intern to the Society’s Scientific and Educational Programs Core Committee. He was also a member of the Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and is currently serving on the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion.
Science Diversity Leadership awards recognize the accomplishments of researchers who — through their outreach, mentoring, teaching, and leadership — have a record of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their scientific fields. Hinton and his lab at Vanderbilt have been nationally recognized for commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as for mentoring and career development efforts.
Earlier this year, Hinton published research on existing strengths and opportunities that will enable more Black graduates from predominantly white institutions to enter STEMM fields at higher rates than today. The paper also discusses how to strengthen HBCUs so they can continue preparing Black trainees to enter and succeed in the STEMM workforce.
Hinton is also co-principal investigator on a conference that aims to engage the scientific community in discourse and knowledge about humanizing underrepresented minorities in STEM.