May 10, 2023

Sun named HHMI 2023 Freeman Hrabowski Scholar

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Haosheng Sun 230223HaoSheng Sun, Ph.D., has been recognized as a 2023 Freeman Hrabowski Scholar. This program is an extension of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private biomedical research establishment in the country, which is dedicated to supporting forthcoming leaders in research and the growth of diversity and inclusive lab environments.

“I am honored and humbled to be a part of the inaugural class of Freeman Hrabowski Scholars (FHS) amongst such an amazing group of scientists. I am extremely grateful for the recognition and support from HHMI of our scientific vision and overall vision for creating an inclusive lab environment to cultivate the next generation of diverse young scientists at UAB,” said Sun.

Sun obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2014. Under the supervision of Eric Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., at Mount Sinai, he investigated the impact of chronic exposure to stressful or addictive substances on long-term transcriptional and chromatin changes that disrupt the normal functioning of reward circuits. He completed his postdoctoral training at Columbia University under Oliver Hobert, Ph.D. There Sun used the model organism C. elegans and examined the transcriptional programs that underlie the temporal maturation of the post-mitotic nervous system during post-embryonic development.

Currently, Sun is assistant professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology (CDIB), with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurobiology, the Department of Genetics, the Civitan International Research Center, the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center, and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute. Sun’s laboratory aims to identify genetic timing mechanisms that govern the maturation of our nervous system and how environmental factors influence these mechanisms. His lab uses worm and mouse models to understand conserved and divergent mechanisms of neuronal maturation across the animal kingdom. 

“This honor is a culmination of the hard work from the talented group of young scientists in my laboratory and the support from colleagues within the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology and the Comprehensive Neuroscience Center at UAB,” said Sun. “I am also grateful for the incredible leadership at the Heersink School of Medicine and their support in developing junior principal investigators. I hope to honor Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, who grew up in Birmingham and has made immeasurable contributions to increasing diverse representation within STEM, and his contributions as a Freeman Hrabowski Scholar."

In May 2022, HHMI introduced the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program as a tribute to Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who played a significant role in promoting diversity in the scientific field by increasing the representation of scientists, engineers, and physicians from underrepresented backgrounds in the United States.

HHMI has plans to employ and aid as many as 150 Freeman Hrabowski Scholars within the upcoming two decades, selecting about 30 scholars every other year for the following 10 years.