DALLAS (Nov. 13, 2023) – On November 2, The Cary Council celebrated this year’s recipients of their Early Stage Research Grants. These seed grants of $50,000 each are instrumental in continuing the critically important medical and scientific research work done in North Texas. To date, the 18 recipients of The Cary Council’s funding have gone on to secure more than $13 million in funding from additional sources.

The Cary Council comprises young leaders dedicated to advancing early-stage research supporting UT Southwestern Medical Center. An Evening with DocStars seeks to highlight the researchers and promote the funding of their groundbreaking endeavors.

The 2023 DocStars: Dr. Katie Hoge, Dr. Avanthi Tayi Shah, and Dr. Chris Herrera pose for a photo at An Evening with DocStars.
The 2023 DocStars: Dr. Katie Hoge, Dr. Avanthi Tayi Shah, and Dr. Chris Herrera.

The 2023 event celebrated three research physicians working in: 

  • Pediatric hematology-oncology 
  • Pediatric neonatal/perinatal medicine 
  • Obstetrics and gynecology – maternal-fetal medicine 

Supporting these early career researchers is critical for fostering a culture of innovation that continues to lead UT Southwestern Medical Center to the forefront of medical research, patient care and excellent treatment.

“North Texas is one of the country’s top regions for meaningful philanthropy and scientific research. The Cary Council has the passion to combine the two and help create profound medical advances,” said Josie Sewell, Chair of The Cary Council. “We are excited to see the impact of our work in the coming years.”

Recipients of the Early-Stage Research Grants

Christina Herrera, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – Maternal Fetal Medicine

Dr. Herrera’s focus has been unlocking the mysteries of the placenta to better address health issues during pregnancy. Her goal with this research is to understand better what the placenta does inside the womb during a normal pregnancy and how that differs when placental disease is present. This could allow doctors to accurately predict and intervene more quickly to care for those with placental abnormalities. Dr. Herrera attended Princeton University, where she received her B.A. in Chemistry before attending Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons for medical school. She has been with UT Southwestern since her residency, which began in 2013.

Margaret “Katie” Hoge, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology – Maternal Fetal Medicine

Dr. Hoge has been developing a novel treatment for a mental health phenomenon in parents of NICU babies. Parents of NICU graduates often develop Vulnerable Child Syndrome, which can affect parenting and inhibit the child’s development. Dr. Hoge’s research focuses on implementing Correctional Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help parents work through the trauma of having a child in the NICU. She is the only researcher nationwide looking into this topic, and her pilot studies already show promising results. Dr. Hoge has been with UT Southwestern since her residency beginning in 2014. She received both her undergraduate degree and MD from Wake Forest.

Avanthi Shah, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern

Dr. Shah is working on improving the diagnosis of pediatric thyroid cancer through translational genomics. Her specific goal is to make the diagnostic process less invasive by replacing a biopsy with a simple blood test and more accurate, as biopsy results can be inconclusive and lead to thyroid removal as a precautionary measure. In these cases, a child would require lifelong hormone replacement therapy, whereas if a doctor can identify circulating tumor DNA in the bloodstream to determine if a tumor is malignant or benign, a more accurate treatment plan could be established. Dr. Shah attended the UT Southwestern Medical School, where she also completed her residency. She then moved to Stanford for her fellowship.

An Evening with DocStars is a celebration of innovative minds and community support for early-stage medical research,” said Jonathan Dietz, An Evening with DocStars Co-Chair with his wife, Saryn Dietz. “This event provides a vital opportunity to invest in the next generation of researchers and their groundbreaking work. By funding their research and partnering with them along the way, we are helping to ensure a healthier future for everyone.”


Visit Southwestern Medical Foundation’s YouTube channel for videos of these doctors describing their work. 

Downloadable Images via Dropbox 


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Southwestern Medical Foundation is a public charity and a registered 501(c)(3) organized in 1939 with a question: “Why not a great medical center in the Southwestern United States?” The Foundation was created to rally citizens in support of the highest quality health care possible in the Southwestern US. Out of that community vision, UT Southwestern Medical Center emerged. Today it remains the Foundation’s partner and most significant beneficiary. Southwestern Medical Foundation is guided by four core principles: Service to Community, Vision of Excellence, Mindful Stewardship, and Best Outcomes. Each principle is a promise to donors, beneficiaries, and generations to come that the Foundation is dedicated to bringing the gift of better health to the Southwest and the world beyond. Southwestern Medical Foundation continues to earn a Candid (formerly GuideStar) Platinum Seal and Charity Navigator Four-Star Rating. These organizations rate governance, accountability, and transparency, supported by both qualitative and quantitative measures. Learn More.

ABOUT UT SOUTHWESTERN MEDICAL CENTER                               

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year. Learn more at www.utsouthwestern.edu/.