Awards & Recognition: October 2018

Raj Panjabi
Raj Panjabi

Raj Panjabi, HMS assistant professor of medicine, part-time, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and David Sinclair, HMS professor of genetics, were named to the Time magazine Health Care 50, a new list which highlights physicians, scientists, and business and political leaders who are transforming health care.

Panjabi was recognized for his work building health care services in his home country of Liberia through the nonprofit that he co-founded, Last Mile Health, and for the organization’s free, online platform, called Community Health Academy, which recruits and trains health workers around the world, enabling millions who lack access to health care to be served.

David Sinclair
David Sinclair

Sinclair was recognized for his research into the genetic processes that drive aging and age-related diseases, with the aim of discovering methods for slowing down or reversing processes, including metabolic processes and higher blood pressure.

Rosario Fernandez-Godino, HMS instructor in ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, received a BrightFocus Foundation Award, which is given to investigators who are studying macular degeneration. Fernandez-Godino is a retina specialist whose research focuses on investigating the molecular pathogenesis of early macular degeneration, with the goal of identifying novel targets for therapies.

Rachel Huckfeldt, HMS instructor in ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, received a 2018 Career Development Award from Foundation Fighting Blindness. Huckfeldt is a retina specialist with expertise in rare, hereditary retinal disorders, such as retinitis pigmentosa. The award is given to two junior clinical investigators who are studying retinal degenerative diseases.

Gaurab Basu, HMS instructor of medicine and a primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance, has been chosen by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to participate in the Culture of Health Leaders initiative, a leadership development program designed to equip leaders to collaborate and use their voices to make communities healthier and more equitable.

Basu’s project focuses on developing a center that would develop and evaluate health equity curriculum for health professionals at Cambridge Health Alliance and nationally. The goal of the center is to provide resources and community that enable healthcare professionals to develop as agents of social change.

Michael Fox
Michael Fox

Michael Fox, HMS associate professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, received the inaugural Trailblazer Prize for Clinician-Scientists by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) at the FNIH annual fall board dinner in Washington, D.C.

Fox was honored for three key discoveries that are changing the way brain diseases are diagnosed and treated and for pioneering innovative techniques to map human brain connectivity that can be translated into new treatments for neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression. He and prize finalists Daniel Bauer, HMS assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Jaehyuk Choi of Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern University were invited to give presentations at a special event on Capitol Hill to inform policymakers about their paradigm-shifting research and the need to inspire the next-generation of clinician-scientists to join the field.

Through the Trailblazer Prize, the FNIH celebrates the outstanding contributions of early career clinician-scientists in the U.S. and seeks to increase awareness of the critical role they play in bringing innovations from the laboratory to the clinic.

Stephen C. Harrison
Stephen C. Harrison

Stephen C. Harrison, the Giovanni Armenise – Harvard Professor of Basic Biomedical Science at HMS, was named to receive the 48th Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research from Brandeis University for his fundamental and far-reaching studies of protein structure using X-ray crystallography. He will receive the award and deliver a public lecture at Brandeis University on March 25, 2019.

Harrison’s work has ranged from the landmark elucidation of the structure of viruses to understanding the recognition of DNA sequences by transcription factors to the regulation of protein kinases implicated in cancer. His initial studies of virus structure provided an understanding of how viruses invade cells and how virus particles are assembled. Harrison, who is also director of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Dynamics at HMS and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, has extended his work to reveal the structures of many viruses, including influenza, HIV, Ebola and dengue.

Five HMS trainees were named 2018 STAT Wunderkinds, which recognizes physicians and researchers working to answer some of the biggest questions in science and medicine who are on the cusp of launching their careers but not yet fully independent.

The 2018 STAT Wunderkinds from HMS are as follows:

Susan Bullman, HMS instructor in medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, focuses on how bacteria in the microbiome is connected to tumor growth and the progression of cancer.

Shekinah Elmore, HMS clinical fellow in radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, is bringing care and improved radiation therapies to cancer patients in Africa and other global health settings.

Dennis Jones, HMS research fellow in radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, studies how infections and cancer move through and affect or damage the lymphatic system.

Abraar Karan, HMS clinical fellow in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, works in global health and is working to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Jennifer Manne-Goehler, HMS research fellow in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, is interested in public health and has researched health care issues and care delivery in several nations around the world.

Michael Baym
Michael Baym

Michael Baym, assistant professor of biomedical informatics at HMS, was named among 17 scientists to receive a 2018 Packard Fellow in Science and Engineering by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Baym, a member of the HMS Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology, is receiving the award for his work toward unraveling the mechanisms of bacterial drug resistance. Baym’s lab uses a combination of experimental evolutionary modeling and data science to understand this dynamic process in order to design practical interventions to decrease, prevent or even reverse the march of bacterial drug resistance. His methods include both experimental recapitulation of the process of resistance evolution, as well as the study of genomic data from real-world infections. 

The Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering are designed to allow maximum flexibility in how the funding is used. Each of the awardees will receive $875,000 over five years to pursue their research.

Eight HMS faculty members are among 75 researchers and clinicians elected as regular members of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). One of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, membership in NAM recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service. Read the full story here

The new NAM regular members from HMS are listed below:

Richard Blumberg , HMS professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy at Brigham and Women's Hospital, was recognized for multiple seminal, paradigm-changing contributions to our understanding of mucosal immunology and immune development having identified mechanistic alterations central to several diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. 

Benjamin Ebert , the HMS George P. Canellos, MD, and Jean S. Canellos Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was recognized for contributions to understanding the genetics and biology of myeloid malignancies, to the characterization of clonal hematopoiesis, and to elucidating the mechanism of action of thalidomide and its analogs. 

Robert Kingston , HMS professor of genetics and chief of the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, was recognized for contributions to understanding the role of nucleosomes in transcriptional regulations. 

Keith Lillemoe, the HMS W. Gerald Austen Professor of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, was recognized for his work as a surgical leader and educator who has enhanced patient care, surgical quality, and safety. 

Matthew Meyerson , HMS professor of pathology and director of the Center for Cancer Genome Discovery at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was recognized for discovery of EGFR mutations in lung cancer and their ability to predict responsiveness to EGFR inhibitors, thereby helping to establish the current paradigm of precision cancer therapy. 

Charles Nelson , HMS professor of pediatrics and of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital, was recognized for pioneering research on brain development in majority world settings and revealing the powerfully detrimental effects of adversity exposure on brain development in early life. 

Arlene Sharpe, the George Fabyan Professor of Comparative Pathology and co-chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at HMS, is a leading authority in the field of immunology. She was recognized for leadership in functional analysis of co-stimulatory and inhibitory pathways regulating T cell activation. 

Janey Wiggs is the HMS Paul Austin Chandler Professor of Ophthalmology, vice chair for clinical research in ophthalmology and a medical geneticist and ophthalmologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. She was recognized for research and achievements in the field of ocular genetics, including the discovery of multiple genetic and environmental risk factors for glaucoma and for developing and implementing genetic testing for inherited eye disease. 

Lewis Lipsitz
Lewis Lipsitz

Lewis Lipsitz, HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was chosen by the Gerontological Society of America to receive the 2018 Donald P. Kent Award, which recognizes professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society. He will receive the award in November in Boston at the organization’s Annual Scientific Meeting.

Lipsitz has studied systematic series of epidemiologic and physiologic studies evaluating syncope and abnormal blood pressure regulation in older adults, and he was the first to identify postprandial hypotension in the older adults, which he studied for more than 20 years. Lipsitz, who is director of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife and chief of the Division of Gerontology at Beth Israel Deaconess, currently investigates the mechanisms, management and prevention of impaired mobility and cognition in older people.

Six HMS scientists are among 97 researchers honored by the National Institutes of Health Director’s Awards: Amy Wagers and Peng Yin, Pioneer Award; Justin Kim and Po-Ru Loh, New Innovator Award; and Richard T. Lee and Norbert Perrimon, Transformative Research Award.

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program is part of the NIH Common Fund, which supports high-risk ideas with potential for great impact in biomedical research from across the broad scope of the NIH. The NIH Common Fund supports a series of exceptionally high-impact, trans-NIH programs. 

Wagers, the Forst Family Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, seeks to change the way we repair our tissues after an injury. Her research reveals how changes in stem cell activity impact tissue maintenance and repair throughout life and explores how these cells may be harnessed for regenerative medicine. Wagers, who is also principal faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and senior investigator in the section on developmental and stem cell biology at Joslin Diabetes Center, has established groundbreaking methods for manipulating stem cell genomes in situ—work that opens new avenues of research and new possibilities for treating congenital and age-related diseases.

Yin is professor of systems biology and a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. His lab develops molecular technologies with a current focus on biomolecular analysis using DNA probes. He is a co-founder of Ultivue and NuProbe.

Kim, assistant professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, is also a principal investigator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His research group focuses on the development of new chemical technologies for the discovery and modulation of protein-protein interactions.

Loh, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is also an associate member of the Broad. Loh’s research group is now applying methods to investigate mosaic chromosomal alterations in DNA from blood and bulk tissue while continuing to develop innovative methods for other large-scale genetic data analyses.

Lee is professor of stem cell and regenerative biology and professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His laboratory studies heart failure and metabolic diseases that accompany human aging, as these diseases are now major barriers to healthy aging.

Perrimon, the HMS James Stillman Professor of Developmental Biology, is a geneticist recognized for his work in signal transduction and the development of functional genomics methods. He is known particularly for the characterization of canonical signaling pathways and the development of methods, such as the FLP-FRT dominant female sterile technique to generate germline mosaics, the Gal4-UAS method to control gene expression both spatially and temporally, and high-throughput RNAi screening.

Perrimon, who is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and an associate member of the Broad, shared the award with Steven Carr, institute scientist at the Broad; Andrew McMahon, chair of the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC; and Alice Ting, professor of genetics, of biology, and, by courtesy, of chemistry at Stanford.

The NIH issued 10 Pioneer Awards, 58 New Innovator Awards, 10 Transformative Research Awards and 11 Early Independence Awards for 2018. The awards total approximately $282 million over five years, pending available funds.