[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 10-Oct-2013
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Dvorak Young Investigator awards honor BIDMC's young scientists

Inaugural awards pay tribute to pioneering cancer researcher Harold F. Dvorak, M.D.

BOSTON –Three young scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) whose research is shedding light on the brain pathways underlying obesity, the role of blood vessels in a dangerous disorder of pregnancy, and ways to monitor sedation to ensure better patient experiences, are the recipients of BIDMC's inaugural Dvorak Young Investigator Awards.

Created through a gift from BIDMC donors Sheldon Simon and Ruth Moorman to highlight the important role of basic and clinical research in ensuring the vitality and future success of academic teaching hospitals, the awards will help advance the research programs of BIDMC investigators Mark Andermann, PhD, Zoltan Arany, MD, PhD, and Daniel Leffler, MD, MS.

The awards are named in honor of BIDMC scientist and pioneering cancer researcher Harold F. Dvorak, MD, and were presented at BIDMC's Annual Meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel.

"BIDMC has a long history of nurturing and supporting novel scientific ideas," says BIDMC Chief Scientific Officer Vikas Sukhatme, MD, PhD. "With the creation of the Dvorak Young Investigator Awards, we are not only maintaining our longstanding commitment to foster and cultivate the work of our promising young scientists, we are recognizing the lifelong contributions of Hal Dvorak, whose groundbreaking work in the field of angiogenesis paved the way for an entirely new approach to cancer therapeutics."

It was more than 30 years ago that Dvorak, BIDMC's former Chief of Pathology, first described tumors as "wounds that do not heal," an observation that formed the basis for the field of angiogenesis and led to a new means of treating cancer and other diseases by starving tumors' blood supplies.

"The same curiosity and creativity that led Hal to identify VEGF [vascular endothelial growth factor] as the fuel behind tumor growth is evident in the three scientists who we are now honoring with the Dvorak Young Investigator Awards," adds Sukhatme. "Drs. Andermann, Arany and Leffler are asking similarly provocative questions and conducting exciting new research in their pursuit of answers to some of today's most pressing healthcare needs."

Dr. Mark Andermann, a researcher in BIDMC's Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, is the recipient of the Dvorak Young Investigator Award in Basic Science. His work aims to understand how hunger and external food cues cause changes in the brain and their potential consequences for obesity, binge eating and other eating disorders. Using novel imaging technologies to assess exactly how hunger influences sensory processing, Andermann's work is providing answers to fundamental questions to help guide the development of treatments for obesity.

As the recipient of the Dvorak Young Investigator Award in Translational Research, cardiologist Dr. Zoltan Arany is focusing his research on understanding the regulatory mechanisms of metabolism in the skeletal and cardiovascular systems. His studies are helping to explain the impact of physiological stresses such as pregnancy and exercise on cardiac metabolism and function. His recent work has led to the discovery that the heart disease peripartum cardiomyopathy, which strikes women in their third trimester of pregnancy and can lead to serious disability and death, is a disorder of the blood vessels. Arany is now investigating the roles that genetics or infections might play in the onset of this serious disease.

Dr. Daniel Leffler is the recipient of the Dvorak Young Investigator Award in Health Services Research. Leffler's work is focusing attention on the quality and safety of invasive procedures including the need to monitor moderate sedation quality from the perspectives of both patients and their providers. This type of Health Services research improves the quality, safety and value of health care, with the goal of ensuring the best possible experience for patients. As the Director of Clinical Research in BIDMC's Celiac Center, Leffler also sees patients and conducts research into celiac disease.

"We are grateful to Sheldon Simon and Ruth Moorman for their support of the work of these three young scientists and, by extension, support for the research advances that will lead to better patient care," says Sukhatme.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide.

BIDMC has a network of community partners that includes Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Health Care, Commonwealth Hematology-Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance, and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Senior Life and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit http://www.bidmc.org.



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