Awards & Recognitions: March 2021

Honors received by HMS faculty, staff and students

George Demetri, HMS professor of medicine at Dana-Farber, is one of 25 new fellows elected 2021 Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy for helping advance the organization’s mission to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, collaboration, science policy and advocacy, and funding for cancer research.

Demetri, who is director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology and senior vice president for experimental therapeutics at Dana-Farber, is being recognized for his central contributions to the development of novel treatments and personalized cancer care regimens for sarcoma patients which have led to FDA and worldwide regulatory approval of various targeted therapies, including imatinib, pazopanib, and sunitinib. These medications have significantly altered the standard of care for sarcoma patients and those affected by gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

Gaurab Basu, HMS instructor in medicine and co-director of the Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy at Cambridge Health Alliance, was named to the 2021 Grist 50 list in the policy and advocacy category.

Basu is being recognized for creating new curricula for medical professionals incorporating climate and equity, writing op-eds about planetary and human well-being, testifying about how to bring health into decisions about building or transportation policy, equipping patients with the skills to advocate for better policies, and generally mobilizing others to make these connections. 

Five HMS faculty members have been honored by the American College of Physicians (ACP). They will be honored during Convocation at Internal Medicine 2021.

JoAnn E. Manson, the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health at HMS and chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s, has been awarded the James D. Bruce Memorial Award, which recognizes distinguished contributions in preventive medicine.

Manson’s research focuses on women's health, randomized clinical trials in cardiovascular disease prevention, and population health/translational research, including studying the role of physical activity, other lifestyle factors, diet, micronutrient supplementation (including vitamin D, omega-3s, and folate), estrogen therapy, and other hormonal factors as predictors of cardiovascular disease , diabetes, and other chronic diseases in women. She is one of the lead investigators on multiple landmark women’s health studies, including the Women’s Health Initiative and the Nurses’ Health Study and serves as scientific advisor to the Brigham and Women’s Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology.  

Donald Berwick, lecturer on health care policy, part-time, at HMS, received the Steven E. Weinberger Award for Physician Executives/Leaders, which honors a physician executive or leader of a national or international medical organization for distinguished contributions to internal medicine or significant impact on improving health care and/or medical education.

Berwick is president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a global nonprofit that uses improvement science to advance and sustain better outcomes in health and health care worldwide. He co-founded and led the organization as president and CEO for 19 years. A pediatrician by background, Berwick is one of the nation's leading authorities on health care quality and improvement, having served the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Hospital Association, National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Institute of Medicine in various capacities. He served on President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry and, Under President Obama, as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The following were awarded Mastership of the College because of their notable contributions to medicine, including teaching, outstanding work in clinical medicine (research or practice), contributions to preventive medicine, improvements in the delivery of health care, or contributions to medical literature:

James O’Connell, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Mass General

Kerri Palamara, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Mass General

Nancy Rigotti, HMS professor of medicine at Mass General

Bruce Spiegelman, the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Professor of Cell Biology and Medicine at HMS and Dana-Farber, received the 2021 Albert Renold Award from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). He will receive the award at the association’s virtual scientific sessions in June.

One of the ADA’s 2021 National Scientific and Health Care Achievement Awards, the Renold Award recognizes an individual whose career is distinguished by outstanding achievements in the training and mentorship of diabetes research scientists and in the development of communities of scientists to enhance diabetes research. Spiegelman’s research is focused on molecular basis of adipose tissue development and function including systematic metabolism and mitochondrial-dependent energy balance. His work has had translational impact in how obesity and diabetes are treated, as well as advances in cancer metabolism.

HMS MD student Lash Nolen received the American Medical Student Association's 2021 Racial Justice in Medicine Award, which recognizes outstanding work to improve disparities in health care on the basis of race or ethnicity and the achievement of exemplary success in advocating for the inclusion and advancement of racial and/or social justice issues in medicine. Nolan will be presented with the award at the organization's 2021 convention.

Michael Moskowitz, HMS professor of neurology at Mass General, was one of four researchers to be awarded the 2021 Brain Prize from the Lundbeck Foundation for their pathbreaking contributions that led to novel migraine therapies. 

Moskowitz’s research focuses on translational mechanisms underlying migraine and stroke and is credited with foundational discoveries that ushered in modern day migraine therapeutics. He was the first to hypothesize that vasoactive neuropeptides contained within trigeminal meningeal nerve fibers participate in migraine pathophysiology and to suggest new strategies for prophylaxis and treatment. After discovering the sensory nerves to the circle of Willis within the meninges, penning the name trigeminovascular system and identifying the first neuropeptide in this pathway, he proposed a migraine road map that implicated trigeminal neuropeptides and their receptors as therapeutic targets. His laboratory showed that classical antimigraine drugs (ergots, triptans) inhibited neuropeptide release, thereby inspiring use of drugs and biologicals that block release and inhibit a meningeal inflammatory response. 

His laboratory looked for upstream endogenous triggers and identified spreading depression (underlying migraine aura) as the first candidate that activated the trigeminovascular system and as a target of preventative antimigraine drugs. Based on his research plus the pioneering research of his co-honorees, more than 20 new drugs and biologicals are now in the clinic that impact the trigeminovascular system and its upstream and downstream targets.

Stuart Orkin, the David G. Nathan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at HMS and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, was named to receive the 2021 Gruber Genetics Prize, which will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in October.

A hematologist‐oncologist and geneticist, Orkin is being recognized for his pioneering discoveries of the genetic underpinnings of blood disorders. His body of work over more than 40 years has revolutionized our understanding of how these illnesses occur and has led to promising new gene-based therapies for thalassemia and sickle cell disease, two inherited blood disorders that affect millions of people around the world.

Orkin identified many of the genetic mutations that drive thalassemia, discovered the gene that causes the inherited blood disorder chronic granulomatous disease, isolated and characterized the master gene regulator GATA1 in developing red blood cells, and found the gene  that controls the switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin that occurs around the  time of birth. The discovery of this last gene, BCL11A, in Orkin’s laboratory solved a hematologic enigma that long evaded scientists and has paved the way for reactivating fetal hemoglobin expression to treat disease.

Three HMS PhD students have received the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 2021 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in graduate studies in the biological sciences. They were among 13 award recipients who were selected for the quality, originality, and significance of their work, representing a diverse range of research topics.

The 2021 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award recipients from HMS are:

Malinda McPherson, PhD Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology

Katherine Susa, PhD Program in Chemical Biology

Lynn Yap, PhD Program in Neuroscience

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