Awards & Recognitions: November 2021

Honors received by HMS faculty, staff, and students

Randolph Watnick, HMS assistant professor of surgery at Boston Children's, was among 79 new members welcomed to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in August.

Four HMS early-career researchers were named 2021 STAT Wunderkinds, which celebrates the next generation of scientists pursuing innovative research to answer some of the biggest questions in science and medicine.

Novalia Pishesha, HMS instructor in pediatrics at Boston Children’s, is working on cutting-edge treatments for autoimmune disorders. She wants to make sure they’re accessible to everyone.

Instead of focusing on just one disorder, she’s working on a platform that can be tuned to an array of them, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Lisa Rotenstein, HMS instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s, is studying burnout among health workers. She hopes her work can decrease burnout and increase diversity in medicine. Rotenstein next plans to study the ways in which health care providers’ emotional health may impact their patients’ health outcomes—with the goal of improving both.

Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako, HMS clinical fellow in medicine at Brigham and Women’s, is moving the needle on health equity as a physician, researcher, and podcaster. He has a podcast called “Flip the Script,” where he interviews historians, anthropologists, and other experts in health disparities.

Heather Ward, HMS clinical fellow in psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess, is taking new approaches to long-unanswered questions, such as a new approach to old questions: What if brain imaging could help them figure out how smoking might alleviate schizophrenia symptoms and improve cognitive function? And what if they used non-invasive brain stimulation to replicate those effects?

Three HMS professors were recognized by the American College of Physicians with 2021-22 awards and masterships.

William Kaelin, the Sidney Farber Professor of Medicine at HMS and Dana-Farber, received the Harriet P. Dustan Award for Outstanding Work in Science as Related to Medicine. Kaelin’s research explores why mutations affecting tumor-suppressor genes cause cancer. His lab’s long-term goal is to lay the foundation for the development of new anticancer therapies that are based on the biochemical functions of specific tumor-suppressor proteins.

Sara Fazio, HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess, and JoAnn Manson, the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s, were elected to Mastership, which is limited to a small number of physicians each year deemed distinguished on the basis of achievements, including academic contributions, service as a teacher and mentor, strength of character, integrity, and leadership.

Fazio’s area of expertise is in the domain of undergraduate medical education and competency-based assessment. She chairs the HMS Principal Clinical Experience Committee, which oversees the core clinical curriculum and all clerkships. Fazio is associate director of medical education at the HMS Center for Primary Care and co-investigator with the HMS and HSDM Center for Integration of Primary Care and Oral Health (CIPCOH). She is the advisory dean and director of the Walter Bradford Cannon Society.

Manson is a leader or co-leader of several research studies, including the VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL); the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Clinical Center in Boston; the COSMOS trial, and the cardiovascular component of the Nurses’ Health Study. Her primary research interests include randomized clinical prevention trials of nutritional and lifestyle factors related to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, biomarker predictors of outcomes, and the role of estrogen in relation to health outcomes in women.

Seven HMS first-year MD students were among twenty graduate students selected for the inaugural class of Samvid Scholars, a new scholarship to invest in the graduate education of future leaders who are committed to effecting a positive change in society. Each scholar will receive two years of funding for graduate study and leadership development programming.

The inaugural Samvid Scholars from HMS are:

Natalie Baker, who has broad interests in emergency medicine, cardiology, and the intersection of climate change and human health.

Debby Cheng, who is interested in pursuing neurology and addressing health justice issues for low-income and immigrant communities.

Selena Gonzalez, who is interested in cultivating health equity, addressing social determinants of health, and designing health interventions and programs for marginalized and underserved communities. 

Rasheca Logendran, who is an aspiring community- and policy-focused physician and hopes to partner with marginalized populations to further health equity.

Tarun Ramesh, who is interested in health policy, health economics, and clinical addiction medicine.

Sahil Sandhu, who is interested in the social determinates of health and aspires to become a physician committed to building a stronger and more equitable health care system.

Isita Tripathi, who is interested in employing a combination of research, service, and advocacy to increase accessibility and improve outcomes for patients from underserved communities.

Sun Hur, the Oscar M. Schloss, MD Professor of Pediatrics and professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at HMS and Boston Children’s, was one of three investigators named by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to receive this year’s Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research. The prize recognizes a new generation of leaders in cancer research who are making significant contributions to the understanding of cancer or are improving the treatment of the disease through basic or clinical research.

Hur’s lab studies the innate immune system, in particular, how host cells distinguish between self and non-self nucleic acids. Hur has used her expertise in chemistry and structural biology to address vital questions in this field. Her research has led to the discovery of mechanisms for key signaling pathways that play a role in both the immune response and pathogenesis of a wide range of immune disorders. It also can be applied to the development of new kinds of cancer immunotherapy.

Emilia Favuzzi, HMS research fellow in neurobiology at the Broad, and Jessica Tsai, HMS instructor in pediatrics at Boston Children’s, were among six individuals named by the Allen Institute as 2021 Next Generation Leaders, a unique neuroscience advisory panel made up of early-career researchers.

The Next Generation Leaders Council advises neuroscience research efforts at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the MindScope Program, and the Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics. The program also provides professional development by offering members training on how to serve as scientific advisors to other organizations, roles typically not given to scientists until they are well advanced in their careers, providing networking opportunities and peer support from Allen Institute researchers and other Next Generation Leaders, and immersing them into Allen Institute neuroscience research, data, and other resources.

Nathaniel Harnett, HMS instructor in psychiatry and assistant neuroscientist at McLean, was among five scientists to receive the inaugural Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award from the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, which were presented at the organization’s annual meeting in November. The award provides an avenue for membership and organizational involvement for early-career trauma professionals from around the world who identify as Black and/or Indigenous.

Harnett’s research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate susceptibility to trauma- and stress-related disorders. By investigating both the brain basis of PTSD susceptibility and potential race-related disparities in trauma and stress, Harnett hopes to develop generalizable neurobiological models.

Five HMS researchers were selected by OncLive as 2021 Giants of Cancer Care. The Class of 14 oncologists are being honored for their invaluable contributions to the field that have changed the trajectory of care across tumor types and improved the quality of life for countless patients.

The 2021 Giants of Cancer Care from HMS are:

Toni Choueiri, the Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber, was selected for research in genitourinary cancers.

Richard Stone, HMS professor of medicine at Dana-Farber, was selected for research in leukemia.

Pasi Jänne, HMS professor of medicine at Dana-Farber, was selected for research in lung cancer.

Paul Richardson, the R.J. Corman Professor of Medicine at Dana-Farber, was selected for research in myeloma.

Matthew Meyerson, HMS professor of genetics and of medicine at Dana-Farber, was selected for research in cancer prevention/genetics.

Read more about the 2021 Giants of Cancer Care and their research here.

Jodie Babitt, HMS associate professor of medicine at Mass General, received the American Society of Nephrology’s 2021 Distinguished Researcher Award with Steven Coca of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for their contributions to the advancement of nephrology.

Babitt, who is also director of translational research in Mass General’s nephrology division, established bone morphogenetic protein signaling pathways’ role in hepcidin expression in systemic iron homeostasis and created a new biologic and small molecule agents for anemia in CKD and other iron disorders.

Sylvia Rosas, HMS associate professor of medicine at Joslin, received the American Society of Nephrology’s 2021 Distinguished Leader Award, with Michael Ross of Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine  and Cynthia Delgado of the University of California at San Francisco, for leadership and dedication to the ASN mission.

Rosas is a nephrologist and epidemiologist at Joslin and Beth Israel Deaconess, and Latino Kidney Clinic director, Rosas studies metabolic and cardiovascular complications in chronic kidney disease and disparities in CKD in Hispanic/Latino people.

The following 16 HMS researchers were named to be recognized by the American Heart Association at the organization’s 2021 Scientific Sessions in November:

Eng Lo, HMS professor of radiology at Mass General, was named the 2021 Distinguished Scientist in Stroke. Lo was selected for this honor because of his research on finding ways to improve long-term outcomes for stroke patients with ischemic injury through translational research. Recently, he made a discovery about how circadian rhythm affects neuroprotectants during ischemia in mice, which has the potential to change animal models of cardiovascular disease. He leads a research team investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie cell death after stroke and trauma and assessing novel strategies for neuroprotection.

Young Hearts Distinguished Achievement Award
Pedro del Nido, the William E. Ladd Professor of Child Surgery at HMS and Boston Children’s

Kenneth D. Bloch Memorial Lecture
Jane Leopold, HMS associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s

Russell Ross Memorial Lectureship in Vascular Biology
Denisa Wagner, HMS professor of pediatrics at Boston Children’s

Science Catalyst Keynote & Thomas Smith Memorial Lecture
Christine Seidman, the Thomas W. Smith Professor of Medicine at HMS and Brigham and Women's

GPM Medal of Honor
Patrick Ellinor , HMS professor of medicine at Mass General

ATVB Special Recognition Awards
Francine Welty, HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess

Cournand and Comroe Early Career Investigator Award
Tomoyoshi Tamura, HMS research fellow in medicine at Brigham and Women's

Elaine W. Raines Early Career Investigator Award
Mark Blaser, HMS research fellow in medicine at Brigham and Women's
Sio Chong Henry Cheng, HMS research fellow in medicine at Brigham and Women's

Elizabeth Barrett-Connor Research Award for Early Career Investigators in Training
Nicholas Marston, HMS instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's

Laennec Fellow in Training (FIT) Clinician Award
Inbar Raber, HMS clinical fellow in medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess

Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Basic Science Research Prize for Early Career Investigators
Yuri Kim, HMS instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's

Melvin L. Marcus Early Career Investigator Award in Cardiovascular Sciences
Jason Roh, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Mass General

Samuel A. Levine Early Career Clinical Investigator Award
Neel Butala, HMS research fellow in medicine at Mass General
Shaan Khurshid, HMS research fellow in medicine at Mass General

David Ginty, the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology at HMS, was named to receive the 2021 Julius Axelrod Prize from the Society for Neuroscience, which honors a scientist with distinguished achievements in the broad field of neuropharmacology or related area and exemplary efforts in mentoring young scientists.

Ginty’s research focuses on the development, organization, and function of neural circuits that underlie perception of touch and pain. His earliest contributions to developmental neuroscience include defining key ligand-receptor interactions and signaling mechanisms that support neuronal survival and the establishment of connectivity in the peripheral nervous system. More recently, his laboratory has focused on the neurobiology of touch. He has revealed fundamental properties and functions of dorsal root ganglia mechanosensory neurons and their synaptic connections in the spinal cord and brainstem. This work, which uses innovative molecular genetic approaches, anatomy, electron microscopy, and physiology, has led to many insights, including the morphological and molecular bases of physiological response properties and receptive fields of distinct classes of low-threshold mechanosensory neurons. These studies have also established organizational principles of spinal cord touch circuitry, a conceptual framework for how mechanosensory neuron activity ensembles are integrated within the earliest stages of the somatosensory hierarchy, and a mechanosensory neuron synaptic basis for the disproportionate central representation of the body in the brain. Ginty’s work has also revealed dysfunction of mechanosensory neurons and spinal cord circuit motifs underlying aberrant touch reactivity and behaviors in models of autism spectrum disorders and pain. In addition to his high impact research, Ginty has served as a mentor to budding scientists for 26 years, including 27 doctoral students and 23 postdocs. His mentees have praised the impact he has had on their careers, his excitement for everyone’s work, support for new parents, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Wei-Chung Allen Lee, HMS assistant professor of neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital, was named with Cordelia Imig of the University of Copenhagen to receive the the Society for Neuroscience's newly established Jennifer N. Bourne Prize in Brain Ultrastructure, which recognizes early career neuroscientists for outstanding work that advances our understanding of brain structure and function at the nanometer scale.

Lee has pioneered sophisticated microscopy techniques and novel image processing methods to understand the architecture of neuronal circuits at nanometer scale. With advanced approaches his team develops, they have generated a three-dimensional map of all the motor neurons that control leg and wing movements in the fly, reconstructed motor axons from leg muscles to the central nervous system, and comprehensively cataloged mechanosensory neurons in the fly leg allowing new cell types and their connectivity to be uncovered. Lee continues developing automated large-scale ultrastructural data collection to understand how neurons make precise and specific connections with one another, having already produced a synapse-resolution dataset of the fly counterpart to the spinal cord. 

Two HMS researchers were among the winners of Northwestern University’s 2021 international Kabiller prize and awards, which biennially recognize three top scholars—one pioneer, one young investigator, and one rising star—in the field of nanoscience and nanomedicine. The Kabiller winners were honored at a special dinner in November and will be featured speakers at Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology Symposium in October 2022.

David Walt, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at HMS, received the Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and NanoMedicine, which honors outstanding achievement in the field of nanotechnology and its application to medicine and biology.

Walt is being recognized for the extraordinary impact of his transformational work on nanoscale optical sensors and sensor arrays, which have revolutionized modern medicine and provided practical solutions to urgent analytical problems in genetics, medical diagnostics and environmental sensing. 

Natalie Artzi, HMS assistant professor of medicine and a research scientist at Brigham and Women’s, received the Kabiller Rising Star Award in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine, which recognizes outstanding contributions by early career faculty. Artzi is the inaugural recipient.

Artzi is being recognized for defining a new niche at the intersection of biomaterials science, biology and medicine, work which examines the contextual and reciprocal interactions between materials and tissues. This in turn informs the rational design of materials and the choice of combination therapies that maximize therapeutic outcomes.

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