Member Spotlight

Antentor Othrell Hinton, Jr., PhD

November 04, 2022

My name is Dr. Antentor Othrell Hinton, Jr., and I am the first recipient in my family to receive a Ph.D. Additionally, I am an African American male on tenure track to become Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt University. I was a former Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Scholar, EE Just Postgraduate Fellow in Life Sciences, and Ford Foundation Fellow who worked at the University of Iowa in the laboratory of Dr. E. Dale Abel (now UCLA). During my postdoc, I elucidated the mechanisms by which insulin signaling regulates Optic Atrophy 1 Protein activity in skeletal muscle, heart, and brain. I received my B.S. in Biology from Winston-Salem State University and his NIH postbac and Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences. To date, I have published 61 papers (54 published, with an additional; 7 in preprint/Biorxiv/Medrxiv or in press), gleaned over 55 awards, and given over 130 invited talks. Also, I have mentored 70 graduate, medical, postbac students, undergraduate students, medical residents, and postdoc fellows and I have been awarded three University-wide awards for mentorship and an organizational mentorship award. Furthermore, I have obtained my Master Mentoring certificate from the NIH funded National Research Mentoring Network. I was recognized by Forbes Magazines as one of the 100 Black Culture Makers and Thought-Leaders.

What is your favorite Endocrine Society memory?

My favorite memory was in 2015, as a senior graduate student, meeting Dr. Abel at the Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology (FLARE). I joined FLARE at the suggestion of Mario Oyola, who suggested FLARE would change my life, similar to it changing his. The entire meeting was fruitful, but the best part was meeting Dr. Abel, which was extremely important and validated that I could achieve my lofty goals. I remember telling everyone at the FLARE program that 3 years after my postdoc, I would be an HHMI investigator, 2 R01s, and be an associate professor. While some other trainees were in disbelief of these goals, Dr. Abel thought that any goals were attainable, and he pulled me aside to offer me a postdoctoral position, saying he could assist me in reaching these goals, help me in cultivating my craft and creating a research niche around developing 3D reconstruction and TEM expertise, hone my diversity, equity, and inclusion, and augment my capabilities.

How has Endocrine Society supported your professional development/career journey?

The Endocrine Society has prepared me for both my postdoctoral and faculty phases. For example, during my trainee phase as a graduate student, I was awarded the FLARE Program Workshop Award. Additionally, I was awarded the FLARE Mentoring Network travel award to visit the late Dr. Robert Honda, from Colorado State, to discuss estrogen access research, since my dissertation was looking the relationship between estrogen signaling and hypertension. However, ultimately, I ended up going to Dr. Abel's laboratory, to learn a new research area, that I could ultimately merge with my prior research experiences. Notably, Dr. Honda suggested this idea, and his suggestion has helped me carve out a new research niche. Furthermore, I was also awarded the FLARE Internship, which allowed for me to be on an Endocrine Society committee. In particular, I chose the society governance committee. Based on this work, I was later invited to sit on the Endocrine Society Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CoDI).

What experience led you to the study of the endocrine system?

I've had a lot of family members pass away or have difficulties with their endocrine system. For example, several family members have battled cancers, diabetes, and other diseases. Due to these experiences from an early age, I have wanted to study the endocrine system to find a better treatment plan to ameliorate disease. During my graduate school rotations, I learned a lot about the Endocrine Society by rotating in the laboratories of Drs. Yong Xu and Lawrence Chan, at Baylor College of Medicine. I ultimately chose to join the laboratory of Dr. Xu because it allowed me to study how estrogens and other hormones control energy homeostasis and blood pressure regulation in neurons.

What would you most like to tell yourself at 18?

1. To never give up on your dreams, no matter how difficult they are.
2. To never let anyone change or diminish your opinions of yourself.
3. To constantly aspire to do better after accomplishing a given set of goals or expectations.
4. To celebrate your successes.
5. To be willing to take more risks

What is the best thing about what you are working on right now?

I am attempting to discover the "fountain of youth," by understanding how mitochondria are involved in the aging process. To address this problem, the laboratory is developing a new molecular diagnostic tool to identify pathology in mitochondria and to build a mitochondrial connectome that hospital pathology departments refer to as a correct way to identify 3D electron microscopy from biopsies. Importantly, without this knowledge, the realization of how aging changes mitochondrial networks and structural changes will be critically limited when developing affordable pharmaceutical interventions for mitochondria dysfunction in human tissue. Notably, these studies may carry a translational impact on human health to identify novel therapies used to protect against aged-fragmented mitochondria, dysfunctional mitochondria endoplasmic reticulum contracts, and alter cristae morphology.

If Endocrine Society could add one benefit, what would it be?

The Endocrine Society is a great organization the way it is. However, we can all improve by increasing diverse membership through connecting with and increasing membership from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Indigenous and Tribal Colleges across the United States and the world. To continue to create more opportunities for diverse individuals, provide equity for everybody, and ensure inclusion in early-career stage faculty.

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