Research Awards and Honors: March 2018

March 2018 awards honors.pngMassachusetts 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:


Tayyaba Hasan, PhD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, has received the 2018 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award. The award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high-impact technologies and particularly honors pioneering contributions to optical methods and devices that have facilitated advancements in biology or medicine. Hasan was recognized for her trailblazing contributions to the field of Photodynamic Therapy and its clinical translation, her leadership and her service to the photonics community.

“Being the Briton Chance award recipient is a special honor for me. Britton Chance was a renaissance man who stimulated new ideas, a love for science and implicit mentoring. It is a joy to be recognized by an award named after him and to be in the company of the distinguished previous recipients. I am most grateful to my team (past and present) and collaborators who are the real enablers of this event. Many thanks to the nominators, letter writers, and the selection committee. I hope to see more XX chromosomal representation on this illustrious list!”

Liang.jpgSteven H. Liang, PhD, of the Department of Radiology, has received the 2018 Thieme Chemistry Journals Award sponsored by Thieme Medical Publishers, in collaboration with the editors of the journals SYNTHESIS, SYNLETT and SYNFACTS. Established in 1999 with the aim to encourage young scientists, the award is granted to chemists who have been recognized as high-potential researchers in the field of synthetic organic chemistry. Liang’s contribution focuses on the development of novel radiochemical labeling methodology for positron emission tomography (PET) applications.

PET is a highly-sensitive functional imaging technology that can be used to probe biological processes in vivo, monitor the progression of disease states, and guide medicinal chemistry efforts and drug developments. The advance of PET is often paced by the accessibility of novel radiotracers, which are introduced by radiochemical methods. To image a specific biological target, a positron-emitting radionuclide must be “embedded” in a chemical scaffold, constituting the radiotracer, with the desired biological properties to interact with the molecular target of interest. As the recipient of the 2018 Thieme Chemistry Journals Award, I will continue to develop novel radiochemical methods for PET and apply them into imaging biomarker development. I am thankful to the Thieme for this award which not only recognizes our contribution in the PET chemistry field,  but also will help us develop more effective technologies to support PET imaging studies and clinical translation.


nipp shipley.jpgResearch led by Ryan Nipp, MD, of the MGH Cancer Center, and William Shipley, MD, of the Department of Radiation Oncology, was selected by the American Society of Clinical Oncology for inclusion in Clinical Cancer Advances 2018, the society’s annual review of progress against cancer and emerging trends in the field. Their studies – “Coping and prognostic awareness in patients with advanced cancer” by Nipp, and “Radiation with or without antiandrogen therapy in recurrent prostate cancer” by Shipley – are featured as two of the year’s major achievements in clinical cancer research and care. Read the report.

“It is an honor that our MGH involvement in this NRG RTOG major clinical protocol (RTOG 9601) testing the addition of  hormone therapy to radiation therapy in patients with recurrent prostate cancer was selected for inclusion in Clinical Cancer Advances 2018. This now 20-year project was based on laboratory research from  the MGH  byDr. Anthony Zietman in the 1990s. The important results yielded from our phase 3 trial provides important data that will help provide better care for patients. We all are also grateful for the NCI’s continued research support  of the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology which has one of the largest, if not the largest , total grant support  for any department from NCI in the US.” – William Shipley. Read more about this research in this 2017 press release.

Sykes Wein.jpgDavid Sykes, MD, PhD, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and Marc Wein, MD, PhD, of the Endocrine Unit, have both received 2018 Harrington Scholar-Innovator Awards from the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The awards support breakthrough discoveries in diverse research areas. Award recipients are selected for the promise of their research to advance standards of care in medicine, regardless of their institutional affiliation. Sykes was awarded for his work “Identifying compounds that cause myeloid differentiation in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia,” and Wein for “Preclinical development of YKL-05-099, a new osteo-anabolic small molecule to treat osteoporosis.”

“The Harrington Discovery Institute is committed to supporting creative science with the potential for real clinical impact. I am delighted and honored to be the recipient of their Scholar-Innovator Award. The award will support a collaborative project with scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Broad Institute, whose goal it is to identify a new protein target in the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia. We look forward to working closely with the Harrington Innovation Support Team as they bring their expertise and experience to bear on the project.” – David Sykes

“I was thrilled to receive the Harrington Scholar-Innovator Award for our work developing new drugs for osteoporosis. This is a common and serious problem in our aging population, and existing therapies do not fully restore bone strength. A major unmet need are orally-available medications that build new bone- no such thing currently exists. Recently, with Nathanael Gray at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Ramnik Xavier at MGH, we found that small molecule salt inducible kinase inhibitors stimulate bone formation and increase bone mass. This award will allow us to continue these exciting efforts and further develop SIK inhibitors as potential osteoporosis therapeutics.” – Marc Wein

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