Public Release: 

AGA announces 2014 Class of AGA Research Scholars

American Gastroenterological Association

Bethesda, MD (April 23, 2014) -- The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Research Foundation is pleased to announce the 2014 AGA Research Scholars. The AGA Research Scholar Awards program, launched in 1984, enables young investigators to develop independent and productive research careers in digestive diseases. This year, the AGA Research Scholar Awards fund an additional year allowing for three consecutive years of funding.

"AGA is committed to supporting junior faculty who are paving the way for promising research developments and new therapies in gastroenterology, hepatology and related areas," said Martin Brotman, MD, AGAF, chair of the AGA Research Foundation. "This year's honorees have a record of accomplishment in research and unique proposals for future study; we look forward to seeing the results of their research."

The 2014 research scholars are:

  • Catherine J. Hunter, MD, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; Defining the role of tight junctions, protein kinase A and apoptosis in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

  • Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS, Columbia University, New York, NY; Risk factors for celiac disease and the health effects of gluten.

  • Anne E. Powell, PhD, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Examining the requirement and modulation of stem cells in colon tumorigenesis in vivo and at super resolution.

  • Laura D. Wood, MD, PhD, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; Characterization of the Moment of Invasion in Pancreatic Cancer. (AGA-Bernard Lee Schwartz Foundation Research Scholar Award in Pancreatic Cancer)

  • Mohamad El-Zaatari, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Role of Myeloid Cells in the Transition from Chronic Inflammation to Gastric Pre-Neoplasia. (AGA-Gastric Cancer Foundation Research Scholar Award in Gastric Cancer)

The AGA Research Scholar Awards provide $90,000 per year for three years (total $270,000) to the honorees to protect their time for research. The AGA-Bernard Lee Schwartz Foundation Research Scholar Award in Pancreatic Cancer and the AGA-Gastric Cancer Foundation Research Scholar Award in Gastric and Esophageal Cancer are endowed awards and will be offered every three years beginning in 2014. The goal of this extremely competitive awards program is to guarantee the perpetuation of strong science through the encouragement of young physician investigators. Awards are based on the qualifications of the candidate, the quality of the candidate's research proposal, and the commitment of the candidate's institution to support the required protected time for his or her research and adequate laboratory space.

The Research Scholar Awards program was developed to provide crucial early support to investigators who show promise in academic gastroenterological research. The program's premise recognized that resources awarded early on could provide a stable platform from which future research funding would be derived. As recently documented, the program has been successful in this endeavor -- more than 90 percent of previous research scholars stayed in academic research/medicine and more than 80 percent received other federal or non-federal funding subsequent to receipt of the AGA award.

The 2014 scholars were chosen by the AGA Research Awards Panel, a distinguished national advisory committee chaired by Rhonda F. Souza, MD, AGAF, professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Members of the committee include leading gastroenterologists from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; University of California, San Francisco; Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville Florida; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; among others.


About the AGA Research Foundation

The AGA Research Foundation, formerly known as the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition, is the cornerstone of AGA's effort to expand digestive disease research funding. Since 1984, the AGA, through its foundations, has provided more than $43 million in research grants to more than 780 scientists. The AGA Research Foundation serves as a bridge to the future of research in gastroenterology and hepatology by providing critical funding to advance the careers of young researchers between the end of training and the establishment of credentials that earn National Institutes of Health grants. Learn more about the AGA Research Foundation or make a contribution at

About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization.

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