The Welch Foundation Announces 2024 Norman Hackerman Award Recipient
Dr. Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, trailblazer in analytical chemistry, honored for advancements in chemical research
Houston, TX—DECEMBER 5, 2023— The Welch Foundation, one of the nation’s largest sources of private funding for basic chemistry research, today announced that Dr. Livia Schiavinato Eberlin is the 2024 recipient of the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. A remarkable chemist and prolific scientist, Dr. Eberlin’s work with mass spectrometry is redefining how we treat cancer and analyze tissues.
“The strides Dr. Eberlin has made in her career so far are beyond commendable and make her an ideal choice for the Hackerman Award,” said Douglas L. Foshee, Director and Chair of The Welch Foundation. “Her creative and hardworking nature is fundamentally changing the treatment experience for patients with cancer, not to mention the field of chemistry as a whole.”
Dr. Eberlin has emerged as a trailblazer in the field of analytical chemistry, particularly in advancing mass spectrometry and chemical analysis for biomedical research. Guided by a belief that revolutionary innovations in chemical measurement technologies are essential for understanding disease pathogenesis, she has focused on disrupting traditional mass spectrometry methods. Dr. Eberlin and her team have developed advanced mass spectrometry techniques, paying particular attention to revolutionizing methods that can perform chemical mapping of a surface. This innovation allows a non-destructive analysis of tissues by detecting and identifying various chemical compounds on their surfaces. These technologies have led to transformative discoveries in cancer research, uncovering diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment response-related metabolic signatures across multiple cancer types.
“The work Livia Eberlin drives is a difference-maker in the lives of people all around the world,” said Catherine J. Murphy, Chair, The Welch Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. “Her determination for excellence at this stage in her career makes her the perfect candidate and recipient for this award.”
An accomplished analytical chemist from Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Eberlin has dedicated her career to pioneering research at the intersection of chemistry and medicine. Starting as an undergraduate research assistant at the State University of Campinas, her passion for mass spectrometry (MS) led her to pursue groundbreaking research as a graduate student at Purdue University and later as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. Earning her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry, she contributed to pioneering the application of ambient ionization MS imaging for human cancer diagnosis, receiving notable accolades. In 2016, as an Assistant Professor at the
University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Eberlin continued her impactful research, developing innovative mass spectrometry technologies, including the groundbreaking "MasSpec Pen" technology, a tool for detecting cancer directly on tissues.
Since 2021, The Eberlin Lab for Medical Mass Spectrometry at Baylor College of Medicine has become an essential component in further developing and translating the MasSpec Pen technology. This innovative device is used in clinical studies at the Texas Medical Center for the intra-operative detection of cancer tissue which allows for more accurate resection of tumor tissue. Under Dr. Eberlin’s direction, research projects focus on the identification of metabolic markers of cancer and other diseases, as well as in the development of mass spectrometry technologies and medical devices for surgical use. As Associate Professor of Surgery, Dr. Eberlin has taken full advantage of the resources at Baylor College of Medicine to advance her research in analytical chemistry applied to human health.
“I firmly believe that Dr. Eberlin’s commitment to transformational chemical research is unparalleled, and her impressive growth over her early independent career points to a bright future of scientific discoveries that will continue to revolutionize the field of chemical and biomedical research and improve treatment for patients,” said Dr. Todd Rosengart, Chair of Surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine and faculty advisor to Dr. Eberlin, “She is highly deserving of this honor.”
Her commitment to advancing science has garnered numerous prestigious awards, including a Sloan Research Fellowship, Moore Inventor Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2018. Beyond academia, Dr. Eberlin's contributions exemplify her dedication to improving patient care and clinical outcomes.
The Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research was established by The Welch Foundation to honor Norman Hackerman, its Scientific Advisory Board chair from 1982 to 2006. The award recognizes the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers. It is designed to encourage scientists embarking on careers dedicated to increasing our fundamental understanding of chemistry. Upon accepting the award, Dr. Eberlin will receive $100,000, as well as a bronze sculpture to commemorate the occasion.
Since 1954, the Houston-based Welch Foundation has contributed close to $1.1 billion to the advancement of chemistry through research grants, departmental research grants, endowed chairs, program grants and support for other chemistry-related programs in Texas.
For more information on the Foundation and a list of previous Hackerman Award recipients, please visit www.welch1.org.
Laura Jones, Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations
Olivia Marrus, Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations