Contributions to STEMM
Dr. Hoxhaj is a scientist and educator at UT Southwestern. Within the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, her laboratory “studies cell metabolism, which consists of many chemical reactions that convert nutrients into energy and the building blocks of life, such as proteins, nucleotides, and lipids,” she said. “We are particularly interested in a molecule called NADPH, which is necessary for the synthesis of these building blocks and to produce antioxidants that help cells fight oxidative stress. Defective NADPH production has been linked to many human pathologies, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and aging, yet the processes regulating NADPH production are poorly understood.”
“I was always drawn to math and sciences as a kid. In high school, I was particularly fascinated by advanced biology lectures, which I attended in Albania while preparing for the International Biology Olympiads,” Dr. Hoxhaj said of her formative years in STEMM. “I drew a lot of inspiration from my teachers both in high school in Albania and my university professors in Turkey.”
“One of the hardest things I have done was to move away from my family in Albania at the age of 14 in the pursuit of better education and research opportunities,” Dr. Hoxhaj said of her biggest career challenge. She overcame this challenge thanks to the backing of her “amazing family, friends, and highly supportive colleagues.” The support she received motivated her to provide the same to those around her.
“In my lab, I put a lot of effort in creating a positive and supportive environment where everyone can feel at home. What I have learned so far is that hard work, patience, and perseverance are vital to overcoming any challenges.”
The UT Southwestern Difference
“UT Southwestern is one of the most collaborative and friendly environments that I have encountered thus far,” Dr. Hoxhaj said of the collegiality she experiences daily. “I enjoy the highly positive and vibrant atmosphere, interacting with my colleagues, and most of all, supervising and mentoring my team and celebrating their success.”
Dr. Hoxhaj is honored to participate in the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together Project alongside many women that she admires.
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“I hope that this project will further spark interest and confidence of many women in STEMM to persist in the face of challenges and stay on the path of science.”