Research Awards and Honors: Winter 2018

Massachusetts General Hospital’s talented and dedicated researchers are working to push the boundaries of science and medicine every day. Continue reading to hear from a few individuals who have recently received awards or honors for their achievements:

Daniel Cahill MD, PhD

Daniel Cahill, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurosurgery, has been honored as the inaugural incumbent of the Tawingo Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery. Made possible through the generosity of the Glazer Family, this chair will advance research, care and education in neurosurgery. The chair was celebrated Nov. 5 at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation. This is the second Mass General Endowed Chair for the Department of Neurosurgery. Donald Glazer, the donor, is pictured second from right with daughter Mollie Van Horn, and, from left, Robert Martuza, MD, chief emeritus of Neurosurgery; Bob Carter, MD, PhD, chief of Neurosurgery; Cahill; and Brit Nicholson, MD, senior vice president of Development

“I’m grateful for the support of the Tawingo Chair for research on IDH mutant gliomas”

Daniel Cahill MD, PhD

Dianne M. Finkelstein, PhD

Dianne M. Finkelstein, PhD, Director of Biostatistics at the Mass General Biostatistics Center, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Dr. Finkelstein was recognized for outstanding contributions to statistical methods for biomedical research, collaborations in clinical research, and leadership and service to the profession. This year’s AAAS Fellows were formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on Nov. 29.

“The award is meaningful to me because AAAS is an organization that recognizes the value of all scientific endeavors. Fellow of AAAS is one of the few awards a statistician can share with all our colleagues in medicine, technical fields, and general science. t is an honor to be listed among some of the great researchers of my time.”

Dianne M. Finkelstein, PhD

Peter Moschovis, MD

Peter Moschovis, MD, of the Division of Global Health and MassGeneral Hospital for Children, has been nominated as one of 10 PneumoniaFighters!: Hidden Heroes Fighting a Silent Killer of 2018 by JustActions. Pneumonia kills 2.6 million people every year, including 800,000 children under the age of five. This is more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. It targets the most vulnerable people. Since 2015, 10 individuals have been selected each year on World Pneumonia Day, Nov. 12, for their outstanding contribution to advancing the fight to end preventable child pneumonia deaths. Moschovis was selected for bridging boundaries in pneumonia research.

“Pneumonia is a leading killer of young children worldwide, and the real heroes are those who fight it daily in the field – community health workers, nurses, and physicians. It’s a honor to be able to work alongside so many wonderful people to develop better tools to reduce pneumonia mortality.”

Peter Moschovis, MD

Karen Joanie Campoverde Reyes, MD

Karen Joanie Campoverde Reyes, MD, research fellow in the Neuroendocrine Unit, has been named a Blue Cross Blue Shield Latino 30 Under 30 from El Mundo Boston. The list honors young individuals making an impact on the Massachusetts Latino community in a variety of fields including business, sports, community service, fine arts and health care, Campoverde Reyes was honored for her research in children with autism, anorexia nervosa, athletes and obesity. The list serves to highlight the growing and invaluable impact of the Latino community in Boston, the state and world.

“To me, being a Latina physician is synonymous with courage, competitiveness, uniqueness and warmth. I am honored and deeply grateful to be recognized for my work. It motivates me to keep moving forward towards future goals. I hope I can encourage other young latinos to be leaders in such a competitive environment regardless their field

Karen Joanie Campoverde Reyes, MD

Sekar Kathiresan, MD

Sekar Kathiresan, MD, director of the Center for Genomic Medicine, and Ofer and Shelly Nemirovsky MGH Research Scholar 2013-2018, has received the Joseph A. Vita Award from the American Heart Association. The award honors the late cardiovascular scientist Joseph Vita, MD, and recognizes an investigator whose published work has had a transformative impact on basic, translational, or clinical cardiovascular research. Kathiresan was cited for his discoveries elucidating the inherited basis for a cardiovascular disease, particularly early heart attack, and translating these findings into biological and therapeutic insights. Kathiresan found a pathway to heart attack risk involving stem cell mutations that increase with age and provoke inflammation. He also has created a genetic test to predict heart attack risk and shown that statins and/or a healthy lifestyle can modify inherited risk.


Vandana Madhavan, MD, MPH

Vandana Madhavan, MD, MPH, clinical director of Pediatric Infectious Disease, received the Section on Hospital Medicine Abstract Research Award at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in November. The award recognized her project entitled “Optimization of Transitions of Care: Pediatric Hospital Medicine Discharge Follow-up Virtual Visits – A Pilot Study.” Madhavan is the physician lead for the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine’s telemedicine initiative and also is a primary care attending, and director of the pediatric advanced clerkship.


Maryam Asgari, MD

Maryam Asgari, MD, associate professor of the Mass General Department of Dermatology and the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). The ASCI is a prestigious honor society for physician scientists across all medical disciplines. Fewer than 85 individuals are elected each year, so this is a major recognition of accomplishments and national stature.

I am incredibly honored to have been elected into the American Society for Clinical Investigation, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies. Because members must be 50 years of age or younger at the time of their election, membership reflects accomplishments relatively early in one’s career. My early career involved attempts at trying to “balance” being a young mother of three and a supportive wife while performing cutting-edge clinical research, teaching and providing care in dermatology. When I reflect back on this challenging phase of my career, I think “Well, we all survived it” – but as for balance, I never achieved it. I attribute my successes during that time to phenomenal support from family, friends and colleagues and strong mentorship.

Maryam Asgari, MD

Emery Neal Brown, MD, PhD

Emery Neal Brown, MD, PhD, director of the Neuroscience Statistic Research Laboratory in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, has received the 2018 Dickson Prize in Science from Carnegie Mellon University. The prize is awarded annually to the person who has been judged by the university to have made the most progress in the scientific field – of natural sciences, engineering, computer science or mathematics – in the U.S. for that year.


Othon Iliopoulos, MD, PhD

Othon Iliopoulos, MD, PhD, clinical director of the Mass General Von-Hippel Lindau Disease/Familial Renal Cell Cancer Program, received a grant award from the Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) Alliance, a national non-profit committed to research, education and awareness of VHL. The award recognizes projects that increase the understanding of the VHL gene and contribute to improved screening and treatment approaches for people living with VHL. Iliopoulos received the award for his project “Targeting Hemangioblastoma Heterogenity.”

I am very thankful to VHL Alliance for this Award which provides great support to our research to cure hemangioblstoma, a type of brain and spine tumor that develops often but not exclusively in VHL patients. We know very little about this the of brain tumor and as a result treatment options are limited. Work at my laboratory at the Mass General Cancer Center has already provided insights into the cellular abnormalities that lead to hemangioblatoma formation. We discover how to treat this disease and we are translating these findings into novel clinical approaches to the treatment of this disease at the Hemangioblastoma Clinic, at the Pappas Neuro-oncolgy Center.

Othon Iliopoulos, MD, PhD

Paul Busse, MD, PhD

Paul Busse, MD, PhD, clinical director of Radiation Oncology, has been honored as the inaugural incumbent of the Joseph W. Cotchett Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology. Made possible through the generosity of Joseph W. Cotchett, Esq., this chair will advance research, care and education. This is the first MGH Endowed Chair for the Department of Radiation Oncology. Cotchett was unable to join the celebration in person as his practice is based in San Francisco, however, he pre-recorded a video address that was broadcast at a celebration at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation.


David Pepin, PhD

David Pepin, PhD, principal investigator in the Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, has received a Phase II Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) grant for the study of contraception. His work is focused on the development of a platform for high throughput screening of new contraceptive drugs that can inhibit activation of primordial ovarian follicles, the first step of folliculogenesis, in contrast to current hormonal methods aimed at inhibiting ovulation. This GCE award supports early-stage research projects in global health with the aim of producing new contraceptives for developing countries that are inexpensive, longer acting, easier to administer and safer.

The grant means a great deal to me, as it opens up the potential to go from a basic science discovery to a contraceptive treatment that could improve women’s health, particularly in developing countries where more options could have a very meaningful impact. With this phase II grant, we can expand the scope of the screening to larger drug libraries, modify compounds, and perform in-dept in vivo validation, which increases the odds that we will find a drug that can be safe and effective in humans. We aim to block the first step of activation of the follicle which should translate into a very robust and long acting hormonal contraceptive. This may better fit the needs of women in developing countries where uninterrupted access to contraceptive can be challenging.

David Pepin, PhD

Bakhos Tannous, PhD

Bakhos Tannous, PhD, director of the Experimental Therapeutics and Molecular Imaging Laboratory, co-director of the Molecular Neurogenetics Unit-East, and director of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Center at MGH, has received a Beirut Golden Award, given for outstanding achievements in the Middle East in arts, sciences and medicine. Tannous was honored for his research focused on a new blood assay for cancer detection and new therapeutic strategy for glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumors.

This award honors the hard work of every undergraduate and graduate student, research technician, Medical Doctor, Post-doctoral fellow and young faculty that have gone through our unit in the past 20 years and would like to dedicate it to my Mother, “Warde,” who’s life was taken by cancer, but could not take away her lessons.

Bakhos Tannous, PhD

Andreas Wartak, PhD

Andreas Wartak, PhD, research fellow in the MGH Wellman Center for Photomedicine, has been awarded the 2019 SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The award supports interdisciplinary problem-driven research and provides opportunities for translating new technologies into clinical practice for improving human health. Wartak will target an earlier and less invasive diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis, a poorly understood allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus. If successful, this project will accelerate the translation of an optical coherence tomography-based instrument that will eliminate the need for sedated endoscopic biopsies.

Being awarded the prestigious SPIE-Franz Hillenkamp Postdoctoral Fellowship in Problem-Driven Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics enables me to perform research that targets eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus. By receiving this fellowship, I also feel a strong personal motivation by the fact that my research here in Dr. Guillermo J. Tearney’s lab at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Mass General, not only seems meaningful to my group and myself, but also to SPIE, this very distinguished international optical society.

Andreas Wartak, PhD

Arthur Weyman, MD

Arthur Weyman, MD, Mass General cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has received the Sanctae Crucis Award from the College of Holy Cross, the highest non-degree accolade that the college bestows on alumni. Weyman received the award in honor of his pioneering research, his visionary work and for his advocacy of echocardiography. He was recognized as a master teacher, critical thinker and exceptional mentor. Weyman has trained and molded generations of medical students, fellows and young scientists and transformed medical education, patient treatment and cardiac outcomes.


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