Helen Hobbs

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Helen Hobbs, M.D., is a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who won a 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the 2018 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine.[1] She and Jonathan C. Cohen found that people with hypomorphic PCSK9 mutations had lower LDL-cholesterol levels and were almost immune to heart disease. This finding led to the development of a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs that mimic the effects of the PCSK9 mutations.[2] She and Jonathan Cohen also identified the first genetic risk factor for fatty liver disease, a burgeoning health problem that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Their laboratory has shown that mutation in PNPLA3 causes accumulation of PNPLA3 on lipid droplets, which compromises the mobilization of triglycerides from liver cells. She sits on the Board of Directors at Pfizer.


Hobbs graduated from Stanford University and went to medical school at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She completed an internship in internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center,[3] where she met her future husband, a Texan who trained at UT Southwestern.[4] Together, Hobbs and her husband, Dr. Dennis Stone, moved to Dallas, Texas in 1980, where she completed her medical training at Parkland Memorial Hospital, including a one-year stint as chief resident.

Following the advice of Dr. Donald Seldin,[5] the chairman of medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, she chose to pursue research after residency. Again, following Dr. Seldin's recommendation, Hobbs took a research post-doctoral position studying lipoproteins at UT Southwestern in the laboratory of Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein, Nobel Prize in Medicine winners in 1985.


In 1987 Hobbs joined the faculty of UT Southwestern Medical Center where she is the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development.[6] In 1999, she co-founded the Dallas Heart Study with a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.[7] This study takes genetic samples of a representative segment of the population of Dallas County, and correlates them to the subject's health metrics. Through this study, she found that variations in the gene PCSK9[8] led to lower plasma cholesterol and protection from cardiovascular disease. Another major focus of her career is to understand the basis of fatty liver disease. She and Jonathan Cohen have shown that variations in the DNA sequences of PNPLA3 and TM6SF2 confer susceptibility to fatty liver disease, soon to be the number one indication for liver transplantation.


Year Award[8]
2019 Anitschkow Prize
2018 Foundation Lefoulon-Delalande Grand prix Award
2018 Harrigton Prize for Innovation in Medicine
2017 Schottenstein Prize
2016 Passano Award (with Jonathan C. Cohen [de])
2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2015 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, Rockefeller University
2012 International Atherosclerosis Society Prize
2007 American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist Award
2007 National Academy of Sciences
2006 American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2005 Heinrich Wieland Prize
2004 National Academy of Medicine
1997 Association of American Physicians
1991 American Society of Clinical Investigation


  1. ^ "The 2018 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine: Helen H. Hobbs, MD". The American Society for Clinical Investigation. March 19, 2018.
  2. ^ "Breakthrough Prizes Give Top Scientists the Rock Star Treatment". The New York Times. November 8, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  3. ^ "Doctor & Faculty Profiles". UT Southwestern Medical Center. Retrieved 20 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Neill, Ushma S. "A conversation with Helen Hobbs". The Journal of Clinical Investigation. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  5. ^ Mooney, Michael J. "The Father of Dallas Medicine". D Magazine. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  6. ^ Hobbs, Helen. "Helen Hobbs, M.D." UT Southwestern Faculty Profiles.
  7. ^ "Dallas Heart Study". UT Southwestern Medical Center. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Helen Hobbs, M.D." Retrieved 14 August 2018.