Scientist born in Sault Ste. Marie wins prestigious award

HHMI photo of all the winning scientists of the award this year - photo courtesy of HHMI article

“Vinnie’s gram and I are over the moon with excitement once again,” exclaimed Susan Tagliabracci on Facebook, when sharing the news.

You see her son, Vincent Tagliabracci, PHD, works at Texas Southwestern Medical Centre as a Biochemist. Earlier today he was named a 2021 Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, a prestigious award given to scientists who dive deep into tough questions that span the landscape of biology and medicine.

Vincent Tagliabracci, PHD – photo courtesy of HHMI article

In a very simple explanation of what he is doing at TSMC, he is researching proteins in enzymes, identifying them and learning about their jobs and how they affect major disease such as cancer, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the write-up done by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, they state that his team has “Identified some 30 new families of enzymes that look like protein kinases, though some of the enzymes are performing different chemical reactions.”

While talking to his mother via Facebook we inquired if “Vinnie”, a pet nickname he has picked up during his life, has always loved science. She answered quickly that it had everything to do with his time in high-school.

“Thanks to Maureen Cano from his high school years at St. Mary’s College! He always says she’s the reason he is were he is!!,” she told us.

In speaking with HHMI, Vincent “This work has the potential to fundamentally change the way we think about cellular signalling, regulation, and host-pathogen interactions,” It could also lead to new tools for diagnosing and treating disease.

The award comes with a monetary grant for his lab to the tune of $9 million over the next 7 years and will allow him to do cutting edge research. It’s part of the over $300 million HHMI is investing in 33 scientists across the county.

His cousin, Lori Reed, is extremely proud of Vinnie but wants anyone chasing the goal of being a scientist to understand, you don’t have to look like Sheldon Cooper or act like the group from Big Bang Theory.

“He is not the usual science nerd. Handsome, beer drinking, hockey playing, ball cap on backwards kinda guy!,” is how Reed described her award-winning cousin to us.

Vinnie’s father passed in 2015 but knew his son was going on to great things and was proud of him according to Susan. When we asked her if there was anything else she would love to say to her son, she left us with this…

“I and his grandmother always tell him that our hearts are smiling with pride and joy every hour of every day! Not only about all his accomplishments but mainly because of the way he daily keeps in touch with us!!”

SaultOnline is pretty sure it is fair to say, that residents of the City of Sault Ste. Marie are proud of their hometown boy too and wish him ongoing success in his research.

Stay with SaultOnline/ONNtv as we continue to bring you the heartfelt stories from our city and it’s surrounding area.