The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) is pleased to announce Rajan Jain, MD, as the recipient of the 2021 Donald Seldin~Holly Smith Award for Pioneering Research. Dr. Jain will receive an unrestricted award of $30,000 to advance his academic efforts and will deliver a scientific talk at the 2022 AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting.
Dr. Jain’s work has revolved around understanding and deciphering how cells decide their fate and remember their identity over their lifetime. His program strives to understand the rules governing how DNA is packaged in three-dimensions in the nucleus and the importance of this organization for cellular function in health and disease. Dr. Jain’s work along with that of collaborators has shown that genome interactions with the nuclear periphery via the lamina protein network regulates differentiation of stem cells into cardiac myocytes. As a practicing cardiologist, Dr. Jain has extended his work to understanding cardiomyopathies with genetic etiologies, specifically those with mutations in LAMIN A/C (LMNA). He and colleagues recently showed that pathogenic LMNA variants disrupt three-dimensional genome organization in a tissue-specific fashion. Their work demonstrated that LMNA mutations target specific regions of the genome associated with the nuclear periphery preferentially in cardiac myocytes and result in misexpression of non-muscle genes in mutant cardiac tissues. Taken together, his work underscores a critical role for peripheral genome organization in guarding cellular identity. Dr. Jain has expanded his program’s focus into the mechanisms underlying genome-genome interactions and the implications for understanding progressive lineage restriction. Dr. Jain’s long-term goal is to use this knowledge to develop and/or improve targeted therapies for inherited as well as more common cardiac disorders.
Jonathan A. Epstein, MD, Senior Vice President, Executive Vice Dean, and Chief Scientific Officer, Penn Medicine, who supported Dr. Jain’s nomination, noted that he “is a brilliant and collaborative star who spans disciplines and acts as a connector. I am confident that his ongoing work will reshape our understanding of how gene programs are coordinated to regulate lineage restriction and cellular plasticity.”
Dr. Jain earned his BA from the University of California, Berkeley and his MD from New York University. He subsequently completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Penn Medicine, where he continued with his clinical fellowship in cardiovascular medicine and research training. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Jain’s research has been supported in part by the American Heart Association, Allen Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI, NIGMS, NIDA, and NIH Director’s High-Risk, High-Reward Program).
Nominations were evaluated by the Seldin~Smith Award Selection Committee: Mukesh K. Jain (Chair), Vivian G. Cheung, Charles L. Sawyers, Elizabeth M. McNally, and W. Kimryn Rathmell. Finalists were evaluated by an Advisory Committee comprising five physician-scientist luminaries: Joseph L. Goldstein (Chair), Michael S. Brown, Robert J. Lefkowitz, Christine Seidman, and Arthur Weiss.