Awards & Recognitions: November 2019

Honors received by HMS faculty, staff and students

Five HMS researchers were among 22 scientists in the 2019 class of STAT Wunderkinds, which recognizes doctors and researchers who are just beginning their careers but have shown promise as they attempt to answer some of the biggest questions in science and medicine.

The HMS researchers are:

Yamicia Doyasi Connor, HMS clinical fellow in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Connor studied metastatic breast cancer cells and modeled mathematically how their projections into cells that line blood vessels might affect cancer’s spread and treatments to thwart it. She is now focusing on small cell ovarian cancer, a rare tumor that affects young women.

Di Feng, HMS instructor in medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Feng’s research led to the discovery of a genetic mutation that modifies proteins in a way that stiffens the cytoskeleton, or the “bones,” of podocytes in the kidneys. Now, she is studying podocytes derived from patients’ stem cells and is using organ-on-a-chip technology to better simulate the mechanical stresses that podocytes experience, in rare and common diseases. 

Junaid Nabi, HMS research associate in surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Nabi’s research focuses on answering the question: How can we make the delivery of health care more equitable? He hopes to integrate technology, bioethics and health policy to ensure patients get the best care.

Sudhakar Nuti, HMS clinical fellow in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital

Nuti uses research to inform better health policies and programs to pursue health equity and improve population health. In 2016, Nuti’s team found the Veterans Affairs health system’s care for non-VA patients and veterans was of equitable quality—playing a role in the debate over privatizing the VA health care system.

Victoria Nicole Poole, HMS instructor in medicine at Hebrew SeniorLife

Poole used functional MRI to see how altered cerebral blood flow, neurodegeneration, brain pathology and impaired cognition were all related to brain function and structure. Pool studies how the brain can compensate for different physical and cognitive limitations that come with age by examining the neural mechanisms shared by mobility and cognition.

Nathanael Gray, the Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in the Field of Medical Oncology at HMS and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was one of three investigators named as recipients of the 2019 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research by Memorial Sloan Kettering. The award recognizes promising scientists for their efforts in advancing cancer research.

Gray, who also leads the Dana-Farber chemical biology program, focuses his research on drug development and medicinal chemistry related to targeted therapies for cancer. Most traditional targeted therapies block the activity of cancer-causing proteins. His lab is taking a different approach: finding ways to degrade these proteins.

Nancy Oriol, associate dean for community engagement in medical education at HMS, was named to receive the 2019 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. She will receive the award at a presentation and reception at HMS on Nov. 20.

Oriol is being honored for her deep commitment to providing high quality health care to patients who are underserved and marginalized and for inspiring a generation of medical students and residents. Recognized as a renowned anesthesiologist, innovator, educator and pioneer in mobile medicine, Oriol created the Family Van and is co-creator of the HMS MedScience program. She is also HMS associate professor of anaesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and lecturer on global health and social medicine in the HMS Blavatnik Institute.

Lloyd Paul Aiello, HMS professor of ophthalmology and director of the William P. Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center, was one of 12 individuals inducted into the Retina Hall of Fame for his contributions to the research and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

The Retina Hall of Fame honors lifetime achievements and contributions of physicians, educators, scientists and health care administrators in a variety of clinical disciplines and other areas of research, education and treatment.

Oluwaseun Johnson-Akeju, HMS associate professor of anaesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital, received the James E. Cottrell Presidential Scholar Award by the American Society of Anesthesiologists in recognition of his dedication to the study of neuroscience and anesthesia.

Johnson-Akeju’s research is leading to the development of innovative approaches to identify patients at-risk for postoperative neurocognitive dysfunction and to develop treatments for the condition.

Eric P. Winer, HMS professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was presented with the Jill Rose Award for scientific excellence by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation during its annual symposium and awards luncheon.

The award recognizes Winer’s excellence and leadership in clinical research, his contributions in education and mentorship of young physicians, and his devotion to applying advances from clinical trials into daily practice to improve patient care and quality of life.

Sabrina Paganoni, HMS assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital, received the 2019 American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine Scientific Impact Award.

Paganoni was honored with the award for her work in a Phase 2a trial testing fingolimod as a potential oral treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.