Mass General Research Awards and Honors: April 2017

Massachusetts General Hospital’s talented and dedicated researchers are working to push the boundaries of science and medicine every day. In this series we highlight a few individuals who have recently received awards or honors for their achievements:

Joel HabenerJoel Habener, MD, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been awarded the Harrington Prize for Innovation – along with Daniel Drucker, MD, of Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada, and Jens Holst, MD, DMSc, 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.

The prize—established in 2014 by the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio and The American Society for Clinical Investigation—honors physician-scientists who have moved science forward with achievements notable for innovation, creativity and potential for clinical application.

“Our research is focused on the discovery of novel molecular and pharmacologic approaches for the treatment of obesity and diabetes.

We are working toward increasing our understanding of the cellular and physiological mechanisms by which  glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone in the pancreas that stimulates cells there to produce insulin, and its small peptide derivatives increase energy expenditure, burn body fat, and improve insulin sensitivity thereby lowering body weight and the risk for the development of diabetes.

I am honored to receive the Harrington Prize in Innovative Medicine – shared with my colleagues Daniel J. Drucker and Jens J. Holst.

The goal of our research program at Mass General is to identify new, more effective methods to treat obesity-related diabetes and its associated metabolic disorders.

Steven LubitzSteven Lubitz, MD, MPH, of the Cardiology Division, has received a Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).

The program supports a dedicated year-long research effort between a medical student and a DDCF-funded clinical investigator and role model.

Lubitz will mentor a visiting medical student from the University of California, San Francisco on a project that leverages the electronic health record to assess patients at greatest risk of morbidity from atrial fibrillation.

“Our overall goal is to minimize strokes and other complications caused by an irregular or rapid heartbeat, otherwise known as atrial fibrillation (AFib). In many individuals, AFib occurs in the setting of reversible clinical triggers, such as surgery, pneumonia, or hyperthyroidism.

The long-term risks and optimal management of such patients once the trigger is resolved are unclear.

The specific objective of this project is to better understand the clinical triggers that cause AFib, as well as the risks of recurrent AFib and other complications after the triggers are resolved.

This project will leverage the electronic health record, which is a unique and well-powered resource for addressing such questions.

I’m delighted to have received this award. The Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship award provides a bright and dedicated medical student with the opportunity to experience an immersive research experience, acquire foundational clinical research skills, and study a disease of immense public health importance.”

Laurence RahmeLaurence Rahme, PhD, from the Center for Surgery, Science and Bioengineering, has been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology.

This academy is an honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology recognizing excellence, originality and leadership in the microbiological sciences.

Rahme is well known for the development of alternative therapies to fight bacterial infections designed to disarm pathogens from their ability to be virulent, an approach that could reduce antibiotic use, decrease the development of antibiotic resistance and preserve beneficial flora.

Recently, her group developed tools and identified prognostic biomarkers that could identify individuals at risk for multiple infections prior to the onset of the infection—enabling a more precise personalized medicine approach to infectious disease that would improve treatment outcome.

“I am greatly humbled and honored to be receiving this honor!  I am excited to join the many outstanding Fellows of the Academy and continue to contribute to the fight against antibiotic resistance.”

Hanna GagginHanna K. Gaggin, MD, MPH, FACC of the Cardiology Division, has been named a member of Cardiology Today’s Next Gen Innovators—a group of early career cardiologists that have been identified as innovators in their field.

These leaders represent the next generation of cardiologists who are working to educate their colleagues, conduct research on new and novel strategies to advance cardiovascular care and innovate the unique aspects of the cardiology specialty.

The Next Gen Innovators list will be announced in the April issue of Cardiology Today.

“I study the clinical application of novel and established cardiac biomarkers to better understand and personalize a patient’s medical management beyond traditionally available methods.

My focus has been on three patient groups: heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and type 2 myocardial infarction.

I was super-excited to be named a NextGen Innovator! To receive recognition from a source with a broad general cardiology reach is such a nice affirmation of the importance of these topics in the field of cardiology.

I am looking forward to serving as a member of this group to guide their editorial coverage and get involved in media communications of significant research findings at meetings through Cardiology Today.

It’s a great opportunity for a junior faculty, such as myself, to have a voice in the field.”

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