Discoveries Magazine

Cedars-Sinai

Faculty News: Winter 2016

Richard Bergman, PhD, received the Albert Renold Award from the American Diabetes Association for his outstanding work training new generations of diabetes researchers and facilitating scientific investigation in the field. Director of Cedars-Sinai’s Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute and the Alfred Jay Firestein Chair in Diabetes Research, he has trained and mentored numerous PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in basic and clinical science. Many of his students have gone on to make significant contributions of their own to the study and treatment of diabetes.

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Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, has been awarded a $2.36 million grant by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to develop prevention strategies for sudden cardiac arrest, which kills an estimated 300,000 Americans each year. With the new grant, Dr. Chugh — associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Pauline and Harold Price Chair in Cardiac Electrophysiology Research — and his team will study patients aged 35–59 in an effort to predict who is most likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest, which has less than a 5 percent survival rate.

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The Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute bestowed its 2015 Eliot Corday, MD, International Prize in Heart Research on Alain Cribier, MD, professor emeritus at the University of Rouen in France, for his achievements in nonsurgical cardiac interventions. Dr. Cribier credits Cedars-Sinai with launching his illustrious career in science: He was a research fellow in the laboratory of cardiologist William Ganz, MD, from 1976–77. Dr. Ganz, along with cardiologist H.J.C. (Jeremy) Swan, MD, invented the groundbreaking Swan-Ganz catheter for assessing heart function. Dr. Cribier calls the two cardiologists his “heroes of medicine.”

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Kimberly Gregory, MD, MPH, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and vice chair for Women’s Healthcare Quality and Performance Improvement in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, received a grant to launch a study into the healthcare priorities of pregnant women, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. The nonprofit organization is authorized by Congress to fund research that helps people make informed healthcare decisions and improves healthcare delivery and outcomes. The expressed priorities of mothers will be compared among various communities, including racial and ethnic groups, educational levels, and women with or without previous childbirth experience.

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Stanley C. Jordan, MD, director of Pediatric and Adult Nephrology, Kidney Transplantation and Transplant Immunology, and director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Center, received Cedars-Sinai’s inaugural Prize for Research in Scientific Medicine (PRISM) for his groundbreaking contributions to the treatment of organ transplant patients. Dr. Jordan’s research led to a drug therapy protocol that significantly reduces the risk that a patient’s body will reject a transplanted kidney. Thanks to his work, 60 percent of patients once considered unsuitable for transplant due to the risk of rejection can receive kidneys. The PRISM award recognizes outstanding scientific or medical breakthroughs by Cedars-Sinai faculty, particularly bench-to-bedside scholarship.

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Neel R. Joshi, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, received the 2015 Dr. Kenneth Adashek Surgical Excellence Award in June. The annual honor, which includes $25,000, is presented to a surgeon who has completed a fellowship within the past 10 years and who epitomizes surgical excellence, among other exceptional qualities. It is named for Kenneth W. Adashek, MD — a longstanding attending surgeon at Cedars-Sinai and chairman of the Division of Surgery from 1990 to 1991.

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Debiao Li, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Biomedical Imaging Research Institute, leads a team that has been awarded a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a noninvasive, radiation-free magnetic resonance imaging technique for detecting myocardial ischemia. The condition is a reduction in blood flow that commonly results from coronary artery disease and can lead to heart attack, so early diagnosis could help save lives, according to Dr. Li. Coronary artery disease is the most frequent cause of death for men and women worldwide.

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Robert J. Siegel, MD, and P.K. Shah, MD, were honored by the American College of Cardiology in March. Dr. Siegel — director of the Heart Institute’s Noninvasive Cardiac Laboratory and the S. Rexford Kennamer, MD, Chair in Cardiac Ultrasound — received the Distinguished Teacher Award. Dr. Shah — director of the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center and the Shapell and Webb Family Chair in Clinical Cardiology — was named a master of the college.

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Biostatistician Mourad Tighiouart, PhD, was awarded $1.7 million by the National Cancer Institute to study ways to make cancer clinical trials safer and more effective. Dr. Tighiouart, associate director of the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Research Center at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, will focus on Phase I and II clinical trials that simultaneously test two or more chemotherapy or biologic agents, an increasingly common therapy for cancer patients. His goal is to identify dose combinations that are safe, well-tolerated, and effective.

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Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD — director of Basic Science Research at the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Research Institute, and the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Heart Health — has received a $500,000 Grand Challenge Award as part of the Cardiovascular Genome-Phenome Study, a collaborative research effort spearheaded by the American Heart Association. She and her team will advance their study of blood protein biomarkers in people of European, African-American, and South Asian descent. The researchers hope to discover protein biomarkers that can predict cardiovascular risk.

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Shaomei Wang, MD, PhD, a research scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute, has received a $4.9 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to advance her work on retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes blindness and affects 150,000 people nationally. The grant will support Dr. Wang’s preclinical studies that center on injecting human neural progenitor cells — similar to stem cells — into the eyes of patients. When used in animal models, this therapy has been shown to slow retinal degeneration and preserve vision.

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