Distinguished Service Professor of Molecular Genetics
Dr. Hugo Bellen, an international leader in the field of Drosophila genetics and neurodegeneration, is a strong advocate for graduate education who very much enjoys teaching and mentoring. Upon joining the Institute for Molecular Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in 1989, he organized “Eukaryotic Genetics,” a course he taught for the next eight years. Overall, he has led 14 different courses in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
In 1991, Dr. Bellen became the Co-Director of the Interdepartmental and Interinstitutional Graduate Program in Developmental Biology, which he went on to serve as the Director from 1996 to 2017. More than 150 excellent graduate students, including 27 MSTP students, were recruited into the program; approximately 40% of them became faculty members in the United States, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Belgium and Britain.
Dr. Bellen derives great pleasure from mentoring trainees through their scientific odyssey. One of the key aspects of this journey is to provide them, in addition to a solid scientific foundation through course work, reading and discussions about experimental design, the confidence that they will achieve what they set out to do. During his tenure, he has graduated 38 Ph.D. students; 18 of whom are Principal Investigators in academic institutes and 11 are postdoctoral fellows. The remainder work in the biotech and pharma industries. Similarly, 30 of his former postdoctoral fellows have positions as PIs in academia and three are Chairs/Directors of departments or research institutes.
For his remarkable commitment to science and education, Dr. Bellen has won several awards at Baylor, including the Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award, the Adam Kuspa, Ph.D., Award for his advocacy and support of research faculty, the Presidential Award for Excellence for Leadership in Research and Research Mentoring, and the Dean's Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Education.
At the national level, he recently was elected a Member to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contributions to the development of genetic technology in flies and the creation of resources for the fly community.