Congrats to the 2018 KL2/CMeRIT Awardees from Mass General

The KL2/Catalyst Medical Research Investigator Training (CMeRIT) program provides advanced training in clinical and translational research to senior fellows and junior faculty from all health professions represented by Harvard Catalyst, including medicine, dentistry, and nursing.

Congratulations to this year’s winners from Massachusetts General Hospital! Below, you will find summaries of their projects as well as their thoughts about the award.

Improving Emergency Department Care for Patients with Health-Related Social Needs

Maggie Samuels-Kalow, MD

Maggie Samuels-Kalow, MD
Maggie Samuels-Kalow, MD

I am an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics and my research focuses on ED-based interventions to reduce disparities in care, and improve outcomes for vulnerable populations.

Emergency departments (EDs) serve as safety net providers, but face significant challenges in addressing the non-medical, but health-impacting, needs of their patient population. These health-related social needs (such as hunger or homelessness) are associated with increased use of the ED and poor health outcomes.

However, we do not yet know the best way to identify and address health-related social needs in the ED setting.

With the support of the KL2/CMeRIT program, as well as the Emergency Medicine Foundation and the William F. Milton Fund, we will examine the association between health-related social needs and potentially preventable ED visits and develop an electronic tool to screen patients for health-related social needs and link them to community resources.”

“The KL2/CMeRIT award provides a critical period of protected time to develop this program of research, collect pilot data and strengthen my own training.  I am so grateful for the support and the investment in our work to improve care for patients with health related social needs in the ED.”

Mechanisms of Neurocognitive Decline after Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

David Chung, MD, PhD

David Chung, MD, PhD
David Chung, MD, PhD

The overall goal of the project is to improve outcomes in patients who have had a ruptured brain aneurysm.

We are specifically interested in understanding why patients who look well after surgically fixing their aneurysm nevertheless go on to have a mysterious syndrome of progressive brain injury.

This is one of the major questions in the field of Neurocritical Care that has resisted explanation since its description in the 1850s.

At the same time, we want to understand why even patients who do well during their hospitalization suffer from persistent cognitive problems that prevent them from returning to work.

We think that an electrical phenomenon called spreading depolarization causes further brain injury after aneurysm rupture and that these spreading depolarizations also change how different parts of the brain connect to each other.

We believe that a cure for progressive brain injury after aneurysm rupture is possible if we could only identify the cause and develop a good animal model for drug development.

This would result in more survivors and improved outcomes with the hope that more patients could return to work and attain their previous capabilities.

“I’m grateful for the support of my mentors and the dozens of people who helped as the work evolved. And I’m looking forward to meeting the other awardees and learning about their projects.”

The Effect of Mindfulness on Vascular Inflammation: A Multi-System PET/MRI Study

Michael Osborne, MD

Michael Osborne, MD
Michael Osborne, MD

It is an incredible honor to receive a 2018 KL2/CMeRIT Award from Harvard Catalyst.

This award provides invaluable support for me to continue working with my mentors, Drs. Ahmed Tawakol and Karestan Koenen, on our important translational investigation of the physiologic mechanisms that link the neurobiological perception of environmental stressors to cardiovascular disease using advanced multi-system positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Through this award, we will begin a pilot investigation of the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on the activity of neural centers associated with the response to stress, systemic inflammation, and arterial inflammation.

Our study will not only provide valuable insights into the physiologic mechanisms linking environmental stressors to cardiovascular disease but will also assess the efficacy of stress reduction techniques for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

I am immensely grateful to Harvard Catalyst, the MGH Division of Cardiology and Department of Radiology, my mentors, colleagues, and collaborators for their unwavering support.

This opportunity will bolster my training and background in translational research and provides a critical step towards achieving of my ultimate goal of obtaining a National Institutes of Health K23 Career Development Award to support my development as an independent researcher.

Defining bacterial pathways mediating inducible resistance to antibiotics

Jacob Lazarus, MD, PhD

Jacob Lazarus, MD, PhD
Jacob Lazarus, MD, PhD

Antibiotic resistance is a broad threat to human health. Truly untreatable infections are still rare, but we are increasingly forced to use second- and third-line antibiotics that are less effective and that are more toxic.

Though people with chronic illnesses are at highest risk for infection from these bacteria, we have begun to see even otherwise healthy people affected.

This situation is particularly dire in Gram-negative bacteria; in this large group of disease-causing bacteria it has been more than 50 years since the discovery of a new antibiotic class.

We are using modern genomics and high-throughput DNA sequencing to identify new pathways that contribute to resistance in these bacteria. We anticipate that these studies will illuminate important fundamental bacterial biology and lead to the identification of new drug targets.

I am thrilled to have been awarded this grant. As early NIH grants become harder to obtain, this will serve as a crucial bridge to research independence and allow me to balance my lab work with my clinical duties.

A Novel Hormonal Mechanism and Treatment Strategy for Cardiac Steatosis and Diastolic Dysfunction in HIV

Lindsay Fourman, MD

Lindsay Fourman, MD
Lindsay Fourman, MD

Individuals with HIV are at increased risk of heart failure compared to the general population.

An important mechanism of heart failure in HIV is a build-up of fat within the heart muscle, which can lead the heart not to pump and to relax properly.

Growth hormone is a protein produced by healthy adults, which augments the metabolism of fat.

In my proposal, I am examining the extent to which low growth hormone secretion is a novel driver of fat accumulation within the heart in HIV.

I will also explore whether a medication that increases growth hormone secretion can be used to reduce heart fat and to improve heart function among this patient population. Through this project, I hope to make strides toward identifying a strategy to prevent heart failure in HIV.

“The KL2 Award will help me significantly during a critical transition from fellowship to junior faculty. In addition to allowing me to conduct a research project of my own design, the KL2 Award will enable me to learn fundamental skills that I will use throughout my clinical research career.”

Optimizing Antibiotic Therapy with Machine Learning

Sanjat Kanjilal, MD, MP

Sanjat Kanjilal, MD, MPH
Sanjat Kanjilal, MD, MPH

Machine learning is poised to transform the practice of medicine.

In this project, I will apply machine learning algorithms to a database of 300,000 patients with infections over a 20 year period to build clinical decision support tools that predict the presence of antibiotic resistance and estimate the likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance in response to treatment.

Lastly, we will use supervised and unsupervised models to disentangle the complex pathways driving resistance at the population level, with the aim of informing hospital and community level interventions.

“The KL2-CMeRIT award is a critical stepping stone in my development as a physician scientist. The funding will provide me the protected time needed to establish myself as a junior investigator and make the transition to a mentored early career award and eventually to a fully independent investigator.”

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