Passano Foundation photo 2

2016 Passano Laureate & Physician Scientists


Hobbs-Cohen Lab

Eugene McDermott Center

for Human Growth and Development

University of Texas

Southwestern Medical Center


Helen Hobbs, M.D. and Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D. focus their research program on the use of human genetics to identify genes that contribute to disorders of lipid metabolism and perform functional studies to define the underlying mechanisms.  Drs. Hobbs and Cohen are scientific partners at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where they direct research in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics and in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development.  Dr. Hobbs is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

For the past twenty years, Drs. Hobbs and Cohen have studied individuals with disorders of lipid uptake and trafficking who are at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.  To identify underlying genetic risk factors, Dr. Hobbs established the Dallas Heart Study, a large and ethnically diverse group of individuals who participate in rigorous clinical assessment and comprehensive genetic testing.  By studying individuals with unusually high or low serum lipid levels, the Hobbs-Cohen team has identified critical genes - and their encoded proteins - that regulate lipid homeostasis.  This approach revealed the central role of PCSK9, a protein that degrades the receptor for low-density lipoprotein (LDL), in determining the level of serum cholesterol.  Remarkably, the Hobbs-Cohen work revealed that several million Americans have a genetic variant in one of their two PCSK9 genes that reduces or eliminates the activity of the encoded protein, leading to a modest reduction in circulating LDL and a dramatic reduction in the risk of atherosclerotic heart disease.


Kaisorn Chaichana, M.D.


Johns Hopkins School of Medicine



Nancy Li Schoenborn, M.D.


Johns Hopkins School of Medicine



Andrea Berry, M.D.


University of Maryland School of Medicine




Helen H. Hobbs & Jonathan C. Cohen


2016 Physician Scientists

2016 Passano Laureate

Nancy Li Schoenborn


          Andrea Berry


      Kaisorn Chaichana


Microscope Microscope Microscope Hobbs & Choen Chaic Schoenborn Berry