Awards & Recognition: March 2017

Joel Habener

Joel Habener, HMS professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, was awarded the fourth annual Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine jointly with Daniel Drucker of Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada, and Jens Holst of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, for their discovery of incretin hormones and for the translation of these findings into transformative therapies for major metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Habener and Holst are recognized for their discovery of the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), and Drucker for translating the discovery into breakthrough treatments for diabetes. In addition to sharing a $20,000 honorarium, Holst, Habener and Drucker will jointly deliver the Harrington Prize Lecture at the 2017 Association of American Physicians/ASCI/American Physician Scientists Association Joint Meeting on April 21 and publish an essay in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.  

The Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine honors physician-scientists who have moved science forward with achievements notable for innovation, creativity and potential for clinical application.

Four HMS faculty members have been honored by the Massachusetts Medical Society.

From left: Fatima Cody Stanford, Atul Gawande, JoAnn Manson and Fidencio Saldana

Fatima Cody Stanford, HMS instructor in medicine and pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Women’s Health Award, an honor recognizing a physician for outstanding contributions that advance women’s health in Massachusetts.

An obesity medicine physician for adults, adolescents and children at the Mass General Hospital Weight Center, Stanford’s colleagues said when nominating her for the award that she has “immense expertise on the medical and social aspects of obesity.” They also noted her “passion and dedication to her patients and her research” and her abilities as a “phenomenal teacher, role model, research advisor and mentor.”

Atul Gawande, the HMS Samuel O. Their Professor of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s has been honored as the 2017 recipient of the Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health.

The award is presented annually to a Massachusetts physician who demonstrates creativity, commendable citizenship, initiative, innovation and leadership in the public health and advocacy fields. Gawande, who is director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation at Brigham and Women’s and the Harvard Chan School, is being recognized as a surgeon, public health researcher, and leading advocate on health care and health system reform.

JoAnn Manson, the HMS Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s, has been honored as the 2017 recipient of the Women’s Health Research Award for outstanding and pioneering contributions that have advanced women’s health research.

Manson, who is also chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is being recognized for her exceptional contributions to the understanding of women’s cardiovascular health and the role played by estrogen, physical activity, vitamin D and other factors.

Fidencio Saldaña, HMS dean for students, has been selected to receive the 2017 Grant V. Rodkey, MD Award for Outstanding Contributions to Medical Education, which is presented annually to a physician who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the education and welfare of medical students and who has made significant contributions to medical students, both in the hospital and in organized medicine.

Saldaña, who is also HMS assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, became dean for students on July 1, 2016. He served as faculty assistant dean for student affairs in the Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs from 2010 to 2016 and was a leader in shaping the Pathways curriculum. Saldaña co-chairs the Practice of Medicine course for first-year students.

The Harvard Medical School Department of Population Medicine at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute has awarded the first annual Career Development awards from the Robert H. Ebert Fund for Innovation in Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School to the following:

Marie-France Hivert, HMS associate professor of population medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, who will use the award to study the role of epigenetics in chronic diseases. 

Gordon Moore, HMS professor of population medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, who will develop a proposal to create critically-needed training programs that will attract and train more residents for family and internal medicine.

Darren Toh, HMS associate professor of population medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, who will use the grant to perform pilot studies and will serve as a visiting scholar at an outside research group that offers synergies with his interest in comparative safety and effectiveness of medical products.  

Anita Wagner, HMS associate professor of population medicine at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, who will use the award to focus on expanding a portfolio of health systems research on cancer therapeutics, expanding available networks of stakeholders, and developing bioethics expertise to develop future cancer therapeutics research projects.

The Ebert Career Development awards support the work of faculty at the Department of Population Medicine to develop leading-edge programs in teaching, research and to pursue scientific and professional activities that will improve health care delivery and population health.

Two HMS scientists were honored for their work by the American Stroke Association during the 2017 International Stroke Conference in February.

Steven M. Greenberg

Steven M. Greenberg, HMS professor of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, was honored with the William M. Feinberg Award for significant contributions to basic science research. He delivered this year’s Feinberg Lecture, “Big Pictures and Small Vessels.”

The Feinberg Award recognizes a stroke council fellow actively involved in patient-based research who has made significant contributions to clinical stroke research.

Greenberg has served in many national and international leadership roles in the fields of stroke and neurology, including principal investigator for the NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) VCID (vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia) biomarkers consortium coordinating center, president of the International CAA Association, chair of the NIH Acute Neurologic Injury and Epilepsy Study Section, co-chair of the NINDS Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias Summit subcommittee on vascular cognitive impairment and chair of the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference. 

Alessandro Biffi. Image: DoppioClick photography

Alessandro Biffi, HMS clinical fellow in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, received the Robert G. Siekert Award at the same conference.

The Siekert Award is presented to an outstanding young scientist. Biffi was recognized for abstract 54: “APOE Genotype Modifies the Effect of Blood Pressure on Long-term Clinical Deterioration Following Intracerebral Hemorrhage,” which he presented at the conference.

Biffi’s research team found that the most potent genetic risk factor for cerebral bleeding, the ε4 variant of the APOE gene, amplifies the negative effect of high blood pressure on the well-being of intracerebral hemorrhage survivors. This genetic variant may therefore identify individuals most likely to benefit from aggressive blood pressure reduction, thus raising the possibility of genetic screening informing hypertension treatment goals in hemorrhagic stroke survivors.

Cheri BlauwetCheri Blauwet, HMS assistant professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was honored with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) International Women’s Day Recognition Award on March 8 for her influence within Para sport.

A seven-time Paralympic medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, she was recognized for being a role model for other women in the Paralympic movement. “I believe in the important and essential voice of women at every table, in every profession, in every sporting arena,” said Blauwet in a press release.

Blauwet studies injury specific to Paralympic athletes and uses sports to promote disability rights.

Alexa Boer KimballAlexa Boer Kimball, HMS professor of dermatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, received the Outstanding Physician-Clinician award from the National Psoriasis Foundation.

The award recognizes a physician for outstanding achievements in improving psoriatic disease clinical practice and for playing a major or lasting role with national impact in improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

An international expert on psoriasis and hidradenitis suppurativa, Kimball was was also named Mentor of the Year by the Women’s Dermatologic Society in 2016.

Three members of the HMS community worked on multidisciplinary research projects that won funding from Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund.

The two projects that involved researchers from HMS are:

The bionic leaf, a proof-of-concept platform pioneered by Harvard scientists, makes possible a cheap, nontoxic, portable device to create value-added products such as bioplastics for accelerating widespread adoption of solar and other renewable technologies, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions. This project will support work toward constructing a deployable bionic leaf that could provide a blueprint for bringing this technology to scale.

  • Eating Green on Campus: Motivating the Next Generation Toward Sustainable Dietary Patterns
    Eric B. Rimm, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
    Stacy Blondin, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
    Ann-Christine Duhaime, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital
    Walter C. Willett, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Agriculture contributes up to 25 percent of total global, human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and utilizes as much as 70 percent of Earth’s water. This project will use Harvard’s campus as a living laboratory to design, implement, and evaluate an intervention intended to improve the healthfulness and reduce the environmental impact of food choices among college students in a dining hall setting.

Seven research projects led by scientists, historians, economists, and public health experts from five Harvard Schools will share about $1 million in funds.

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust announced the creation of the Harvard University Climate Change Solutions Fund (CCSF) in 2014 to support research initiatives intended to hasten the transition from carbon-based energy systems to those that rely on renewable energy sources and to propel innovations needed to accelerate progress toward cleaner energy and a greener world.

Andrew KruseAndrew Kruse, assistant professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at HMS, was among 126 U.S. and Canadian researchers who were named by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as recipients of the 2017 Sloan Research Fellowships.

The fellowships honor early-career scholars whose achievements mark them as the next generation of scientific leaders. Winners receive $60,000 to be used as they wish to further their research.

Drawn from 60 colleges and universities, the fellows represent a variety of research interests in eight scientific and technical fields. Kruse was named in the category of neuroscience.

Candice YipCandice Yip, a neuroscience PhD candidate in the lab of Max Heiman in the HMS Department of Genetics, received a 2017 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The award recognizes outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences. Recipients will participate in a scientific symposium on May 5, 2017.

In a 2016 paper, Yip discovered how an abnormal number of sensory neurons share space throughout the bodies of C. elegans worms. This led to insights into how organisms can co-opt existing genes for new purposes and how the complex patterning of cells in the nervous system arises from simple rules rather than adherence to a deterministic diagram.

Two HMS faculty members were honored by the Association of American Medical Colleges at the organization’s annual conference in 2017.

George Thibault, the Daniel D. Federman, M.D. Professor of Medicine and Medical Education, Emeritus at Brigham and Women's, received the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education.

Laurie Glimcher, The HMS Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women's/Dana-Farber, received the Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences.