Discoveries Magazine

Cedars-Sinai

Faculty News: Spring 2017

Mark J. Ault, MD, was honored with the Chief of Staff Award for his support, mentorship, and dedication to safe, quality patient care. Ault founded the Cedars-Sinai Procedure Center, where faculty perform thousands of medical procedures annually.

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Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, earned the Derek Denny-Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award, the American Neurological Association’s most prestigious honor, presented annually for outstanding advancements in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of neurological diseases. Baloh, the Ben Winters Chair in Regenerative Medicine, is director of Neuromuscular Medicine and leads the Cedars-Sinai Neurodegenerative Diseases Laboratory.

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Benjamin Berman, PhD, co-director of Cedars-Sinai’s Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics, is part of a team that will receive a $2.5 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study the foundations of cancer. The investigators will analyze epigenetic data gathered from around the world by the NCI’s Genomic Data Analysis Network. As part of the project, Berman will continue work on a computational framework to identify altered gene regulatory networks and enable the efficient and secure exchange of data between research sites.

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Linda Burnes Bolton, DrPH, RN, FAAN, received the American Academy of Nursing’s highest honor, the designation of “Living Legend.” She was one of just five nationally to receive the award. Burnes Bolton also has been named Cedars-Sinai’s first James R. Klinenberg, MD, and Lynn Klinenberg Linkin Chair in Nursing. She is retiring as health system chief nursing executive, vice president for Nursing, and chief nursing officer to serve in the new position of chief health equity officer.

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Robert A. Figlin, MD, has been named deputy director of the integrated oncology service line at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Figlin — the Steven Spielberg Family Chair in Hematology-Oncology — will work with investigators and clinicians to unify the health system’s approach to treating cancer by integrating research and clinical strategies.

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Stephen Freedland, MD, has been awarded a two-year grant to investigate the impact of diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and other lifestyle factors on cancer. Freedland is director of the Center for Integrated Research in Cancer and Lifestyle, co-director of the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program, and the Warschaw, Robertson, Law Families Chair in Prostate Cancer.

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The nonprofit Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has selected Cedars-Sinai as one of 12 initial clinical trial sites aimed at fast-track development of potential treatments for the disease. Andrew E. Hendifar, MD, and Richard Tuli, MD, PhD, will lead clinical studies of pancreatic cancer therapies at Cedars-Sinai as part of the initiative. They will select participants, gather and report data — including side effects — and publish their results. Hendifar is co-director of Pancreas Oncology and the medical oncology lead for the Gastrointestinal Disease Research Group. Tuli is medical director of Pancreas Oncology.

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Eggehard Holler, PhD, received a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to advance his design of diagnostic approaches to better identify and target brain tumors. A professor of Neurosurgery, Holler is the director of imaging and drug synthesis at the Nanomedicine Research Center.

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Beth Y. Karlan, MD, director of the Women’s Cancer Program at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute and director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, received the 2017 Pioneer in Medicine award, which recognizes the clinical and research contributions of a Cedars-Sinai medical staff member. The American Cancer Society honored Karlan with a Giants of Science award, noting that her work “has helped shape current standards of ovarian cancer care.” Karlan is the Board of Governors Chair in Gynecologic Oncology.

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The Department of Defense has awarded a $10 million grant to the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute for a trial studying the effectiveness of cardiac stem cells in treating heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). The project involves four Cedars-Sinai labs. Heart Institute Director Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, is leading research into whether the benefits of the treatment are due to exosomes, which are microscopic bodies secreted from cells. Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD — director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Institute in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, director of Basic Science Research in the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, and the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Heart Health — is seeking to identify biochemical markers that may help predict patients’ responses to stem cell therapies. Robin Shaw, MD, PhD — the Wasserman Chair in Cardiology in honor of S. Rexford Kennamer, MD — and research scientist Ting-Ting Hong, MD, PhD, will pinpoint the protein changes in patients resulting from the treatments. Joshua Goldhaber, MD — director of Applied Cell Biology and Physiology, director of Basic Research in the Heart Institute, and the Dorothy and E. Phillip Lyon Chair in Laser Research — is examining the role that calcium plays in the development of HFpEF. Their research will build upon the results of a previously published Heart Institute study, which led to Food and Drug Administration approval for a clinical trial involving veterans and civilians.

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The technology of cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs) invented by Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, has led to a $7.3 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The funding supports the Heart Institute and the Department of Medicine in expanding the ongoing evaluation of CDC therapies into pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Caused by high blood pressure in the large arteries leading from the heart to the lungs, PAH affects nearly 200,000 patients in the U.S. annually. The new clinical study is headed by Michael I. Lewis, MD, director of Respiratory Therapy.

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Stephen J. Pandol, MD, director of Basic and Translational Pancreas Research, is the 2016 recipient of the Nobility in Science award from the National Pancreas Foundation. The award honors physicians for outstanding achievements in pancreatic research and treatment. According to the foundation, Pandol is being honored not only for his “amazing work in the laboratory” but also for efforts to advance his discoveries into clinical practice. Pandol’s research focuses on cells involved in promoting the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer.

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Lindsey Ross, MD, earned a coveted position as a 2016–17 White House Fellow. She will spend a year at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The White House Fellows Program was founded in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to offer fellows firsthand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. Graduates include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and CNN medical correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, MD. Ross is a member of the Cedars-Sinai Neurological Surgery Residency Program.

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Brennan Spiegel, MD, C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, and Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD, have received a $1.2 million grant from the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine to design a system that uses remote monitoring to predict heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. The team will look for the earliest signs of cardiovascular disease by monitoring patients remotely with a specialized watch that measures activity, sleep, heart rate, and stress levels. Patients also will report their levels of anxiety, depression, and quality of life using a smartphone or computer, and mail the researchers finger-pricked blood samples, enabling assessment of a variety of biomarkers and more than 500 blood proteins. Spiegel is director of Cedars-Sinai Health Services Research, Bairey Merz is director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, and Van Eyk is director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Institute, director of Basic Science Research at the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, and the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Heart Health.

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Stephan R. Targan, MD — the Feintech Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease — and Cedars-Sinai gastroenterology investigators have been awarded $10 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue a decades-long investigation into genetic and immunological causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The project is the longest IBD study of its kind to be funded by the NIH and the first to explore the disease’s complex genetic factors.

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David Underhill, PhD, and Stephen Shiao, MD, PhD, have been awarded a $1.5 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to support their research into the gut microbiome — the community of microorganisms residing in the digestive system — and how it influences the immune system’s response to radiation treatments. Underhill is associate director of the Division of Immunology Research and the Janis and William Wetsman Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Shiao is a clinical scholar and radiation oncologist at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Underhill also directs Cedars-Sinai’s graduate program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine, from which Shiao graduated in 2015.

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Mark Zakowski, MD, chief of Obstetric Anesthesiology, has been elected president of the California Society of Anesthesiologists.

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