Emerging-Generation Awards, 2022

The ASCI is pleased to recognize the 22 recipients of its inaugural 2022 Emerging-Generation Awards, which recognize excellence in post-MD, pre-faculty appointment physician-scientists who are meaningfully engaged in immersive research.

Juan Pablo Arroyo, MD, PhD

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Juan Pablo “JP” Arroyo, MD, PhD, was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, where he obtained his MD and a PhD in renal physiology. He completed an intern year in general surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital, as well as a two-year post-doc at Yale University focusing on the molecular mechanisms of renal salt reabsorption. Dr. Arroyo then pursued Internal Medicine and Nephrology clinical training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is now an Instructor in Nephrology and has started a vasopressin physiology and pathophysiology research program. JP is a 2020 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - Amos Faculty Development Scholar.

Tiffany Chen, MD

Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Tiffany Chen, MD, is a board-certified anatomic pathologist who completed her anatomic pathology residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts in 2021. She received the 2021 Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award and is currently completing her post doctorate research fellowship under Dr. Faisal Mahmood at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She completed her medical training at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota in 2018 and received both a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies and a Master of Science in Global Medicine from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Chen has published over 13 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals like Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Cancer Cell, contributed to 1 book, and has presented extensively at both national and international conferences. She has established herself within the field of digital and computational pathology, having published the first computational pathology paper in Nature. The focus of her current research is to create multimodal fusion algorithms combining information from multiple imaging modalities, patient histories, and multi-omics data for enhancing the diagnostic workflow and creating more accurate survival and treatment response predictions for patients. In additional to her research interests, Dr. Chen has a passion for teaching and innovation. She has taught several courses at the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Extension School, assisted multiple research labs in company formation through the Harvard Biotechnology Incubator, and co-directed the Harvard Mini-MBA program.

Walter W. Chen, MD, PhD

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Walter W. Chen, MD, PhD is a Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis’ lab. He completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton University, obtained his MD from Harvard Medical School and PhD from MIT in Dr. David M. Sabatini’s lab, and completed his Pediatrics residency in the Boston Combined Residency Program. His career goal is to be a physician-scientist running a research lab studying metabolic organelles (e.g., mitochondria, peroxisomes) in human health and disease, particularly in neonates, and also providing clinical care to babies in a neonatal intensive care unit. During his PhD, Dr. Chen developed a method for rapid and specific isolation of mitochondria from human cells using immunopurification (MITO-IP) that allows for the direct assessment of metabolites within these organelles, which is necessary for understanding mitochondrial physiology and historically had been a challenge. In the years since, he has led efforts in which they have generated a transgenic MITO-Tag Mouse that allows for the MITO-IP to be performed in vivo and also adapted the MITO-IP method to peroxisomes (PEROXO-IP). The MITO-IP methodology has also been adapted to the study of other organelles, such as lysosomes, melanosomes, and synaptic vesicles, and this family of rapid organellar isolation methods has become a popular way to purify and study organelles and has been utilized in a diverse array of fields, ranging from cancer biology to neuroscience. Dr. Chen’s recognitions include the MITO-IP method being chosen as one of the Breakthroughs of the Year by Science Signaling and his selection as a STAT Wunderkind. During his postdoctoral time, Dr. Chen plans to use the techniques he developed in conjunction with the advanced metabolomic capabilities of the DeBerardinis lab to explore how metabolic organelles contribute to neonatal health and disease.

Irene Chernova, MD, PhD

Yale School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Irene Chernova, MD, PhD, was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. To her, at this time in 2022, this seems like a more important part of her identity than her clinical or scientific accomplishments. Though she has lived in the USA since 1996 and considers it her home, recently she has had cause to be very proud of her birth nation, while at the same time worrying over relatives and friends still in Ukraine. Dr. Chernova’s family’s emigration was precipitated by the fall of the Soviet Union and, like so many, her mom brought her to the US to provide her with more opportunities and a brighter future. Now she is an MD/PhD trained physician-scientist working at the intersection of Nephrology and Immunology and honored to be recognized by ASCI. Dr. Chernova fervently hopes that the next generation of Ukrainians gets a chance to pursue their passions and contribute to a peaceful world, in a free democratic Ukraine and all over the world.

Scientifically, Dr. Chernova knew from early on in medical school that Nephrology was her clinical interest and felt passionate about combining it with her PhD training in Immunology. This was not a common combination of interests, which was simultaneously intimidating and exciting. In her postdoctoral lab, she became interested in understanding how lymphocytes in lupus nephritis survive in the hostile, high sodium kidney environment and in the under-explored field of ion-lymphocyte interactions in general. We know very little about organ-specific ionic environments that lymphocytes face and what this means for their survival and function – what happens to lymphocytes during dehydration, when serum sodium levels rise? Or in kidney failure when potassium concentration increases? Dr. Chernova hopes to continue to use her combined training in kidney physiology and immunology to tackle these questions in the kidney and beyond.

Pierre A. Elias, MD

Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Pierre A. Elias, MD is a cardiology fellow at Columbia University. His lab focuses on the development of machine learning applications for early disease detection using cardiac imaging. He was previously a data scientist at Lumiata, helping develop Google’s Knowledge Graph for Health. His research focuses on deep learning using cardiac imaging. He was recently named a STAT News Wunderkind, highlighting 25 of the most promising junior researchers around the country.

Emily A. Ferenczi, BM BCh, PhD

Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Emily A. Ferenczi, BM BCh, PhD, is a movement disorders neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School in Bernardo Sabatini’s Laboratory. Her research investigates how basal ganglia circuits communicate with distant brain regions such as the cortex and brainstem. She uses viral neural tracing methods, molecular techniques, optogenetics, electrophysiology and behavioral assays to probe the properties and function of long-range basal ganglia circuits. The goal of this work is to understand how these circuits contribute to the pathophysiology and complex phenotype of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and depression, and how these circuits might be specifically targeted for therapeutic intervention.

Wilfredo F. Garcia-Beltran, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Wilfredo F. Garcia-Beltran, MD, PhD, is originally from Puerto Rico, where he obtained a bachelor’s in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras in 2010. He subsequently entered into a cross-institutional MD/PhD program where he received his PhD degree in Immunology from Harvard University and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2018. He pursued clinical specialty training in Clinical Pathology with sub-specialty training in Transfusion Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and carried out post-doctoral research in NK-cell biology and cellular therapies as well as immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccines. He is currently leading his own laboratory as a Clinician-Scientist Fellow at Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.

Jessica Golbus, MD, MS

University of Michigan Medical School
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Jessica Golbus, MD, MS, is a Clinical Instructor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. She received her MD from the University of Michigan and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She then completed her training in General Cardiology and Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant at the University of Michigan. She also received her MS through the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Dr. Golbus’s research focuses on the use of mobile health technology to improve cardiovascular disease outcomes. She is actively involved in a number of research studies using mobile technology to promote behavioral modification for patients with heart failure or hypertension and for those enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation. Furthermore, she is interested in optimizing treatments for patients with advanced heart failure. This includes work on identifying the optimal time to deploy heart failure advanced therapies.

Snigdha Jain, MD

Yale School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Snigdha Jain, MD, is a Pulmonary and Critical Care physician with research training in geriatric epidemiology. She completed her medical school at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa before starting her fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. During her clinical training, her work elucidated variability in the availability of telemedicine services in intensive care units in rural areas, gender differences in compliance with recommendations for congenital heart disease surgery, and characteristics of hospital readmissions after pneumonia hospitalizations.

She joined Yale as a postdoctoral fellow in the Geriatric Clinical Epidemiology and Aging-Related Research program and a clinical fellow in the division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine. Her research has focused on improving equity in patient-centered outcomes of critically ill older persons. Her recent work has identified socioeconomic disparities in disability and dementia after critical illness hospitalization and racial deficiencies in improvement in mobility among ventilated patients at long-term acute care hospitals. This important work was acknowledged with the receipt of a scholarship from the American Thoracic Society and presented at the prestigious presidential poster session at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting. She has also been awarded the Parker B. Francis Foundation Fellowship Award by the American Thoracic Society to investigate the role of rehabilitation in socioeconomic differences in the development of disability following ICU hospitalization.

Mark B. Leick, MD

Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Mark B. Leick, MD, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, attending the University of Arizona where he completed majors in biosystems engineering, biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and molecular and cellular biology, graduating magna cum laude with admission to Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He then attended Georgetown School of Medicine in Washington DC where he was elected into Alpha Omega Alpha. He underwent training in internal medicine in the Johns Hopkins Osler program in Baltimore, Maryland and then completed his medical training with a clinical fellowship in medical oncology in the Harvard combined fellowship with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital with a clinical focus on bone marrow transplantation and cellular therapy. Dr. Leick joined the Maus lab in 2018 where he focuses on developing novel CAR-T cells for AML and translational investigations into patient samples including use of whole genome sequencing and single-cell RNA sequencing. He currently splits his time between the lab and caring for CAR-T and BMT patients at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Michael Levin, MD

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Michael Levin, MD, attended the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate, and received his medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical school. He returned to the University of Pennsylvania for his internal medicine training, where he is now a cardiology fellow. His research is focused on using large genomic and electronic health record datasets to better understand the influence of genetic variation in cardiometabolic disease, and in particular understand the relationships between traditional cardiovascular risk factors and disease in different vascular beds. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Translational Research degree while completing his cardiology fellowship training.

Rachel E. Niec, MD, PhD

Weill Cornell Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Rachel E. Niec, MD, PhD, is a physician-scientist working at the intersection of immunology and epithelial cell biology. Her goal is to improve understanding of of inflammatory bowel disease and direct new therapeutic approaches.

Alicia N. Rizzo, MD, PhD

University of Colorado School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Alicia N. Rizzo, MD, PhD, is an aspiring physician-scientist in the field of pulmonary and critical care medicine. Her main scientific interest is in understanding acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) heterogeneity. She completed her undergraduate studies in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in 2009. She then joined the Medical Scientist Training Program at University of Illinois, where she completed both her MD and a PhD in Pharmacology in the laboratory of Drs. Steven Dudek and Joe G. N. Garcia. Dr. Rizzo’s thesis work tested the effects of the FDA-approved chemotherapeutic agent imatinib mesylate in murine models of ARDS and elucideated the mechanisms by which the Abl family kinases mediated pulmonary vascular barrier function and inflammation in LPS-induced lung injury. After completing her MD/PhD, Dr. Rizzo joined the Physician-Scientist Training Program at the University of Colorado to pursue her Internal Medicine and Pulmonary and Critical Care training and a postdoctoral research fellowship. In July of 2020 she joined the laboratory of Dr. Eric Schmidt, who is one of the world’s leading experts in pulmonary glycobiology. His laboratory focuses on the mechanisms of septic organ injury and ARDS. Dr. Rizzo’s research in his laboratory focuses on the structural and functional interaction between the alveolar epithelial glycocalyx and pulmonary surfactant. This includes both mechanistic in vitro and in vivo investigation and a translational human study in which she is performing serial noninvasive sampling of the airspace fluid of mechanically ventilated patients using heat moisture exchanger filters. Dr. Rizzo’s work has been accepted for publication at JCI Insight and has been funded by both the NIH (F32 NRSA and LRP grants) and the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. Dr. Rizzo plans to transition to a physician-scientist faculty position upon completion of her fellowship in 2023.

Jessica Rubens, MD

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Jessica Rubens, MD, is a physician-scientist who studies immune responses to measles virus infection and vaccination under the mentorship of Diane Griffin, MD, PhD, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Rubens received her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine followed by her pediatrics residency at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Children’s Center, where she is currently a pediatric infectious diseases fellow. In the Griffin lab, she studies the mechanisms that govern the development of durable immunity in B and T cells after measles virus infection and vaccination using molecular biology techniques, immune assays, and computational methods. Dr. Rubens’ work is supported by the Pediatric-Scientist Development Program (PSDP) through the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC)/NICHD and internal grants from Johns Hopkins University.

Konrad T. Sawicki, MD, PhD

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Konrad T. Sawicki, MD, PhD, is a senior cardiology fellow and post-doctoral researcher at Northwestern University. Dr. Sawicki received his BS degree in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan. He subsequently obtained his MD and PhD degrees at Northwestern University, where he studied cellular and mitochondrial iron regulation in the heart and post-transcriptional regulation of hepatic metabolism under Dr. Hossein Ardehali. Dr. Sawicki joined the Physician-Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University and has completed his internal medicine residency and the majority of his clinical cardiology fellowship. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and is heavily involved in the American Heart Association (AHA), and serves on the Genomic and Precision Medicine Early Career Committee as well as the Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Diabetes Committee. Dr. Sawicki is conducting his post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth McNally, in close collaboration with Dr. Issam Ben-Sahra and Dr. John Wilkins. At the basic science research level, Dr. Sawicki is interested in understanding how mitochondrial membrane proteins regulate cardiac metabolism and how dietary interventions affect myocardial metabolism. At the clinical and translational research levels, Dr. Sawicki is interested in using polygenic risk scores and metabolomic techniques to guide precision medicine in cardiometabolic disease and preventive cardiology.

Senthil Selvaraj, MD, MS, MA

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Senthil Selvaraj, MD, MS, MA, is a physician-scientist interested in the cardiometabolic underpinnings of HF, focusing on alternative fuel sources. Overall, his translational work combines cardiovascular metabolism and mechanistic, randomized trials in HF patients. By way of brief background, Dr. Selvarj completed undergraduate and medical school training at Northwestern University. Subsequently, he completed residency, chief residency, and a preventive cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, he finished his general cardiovascular medicine training and is nearing the end of his advanced fellowship in HF and transplant.

Over the past ten years, Dr. Selvaraj has used classical epidemiological approaches to understand metabolic, biomarker, echocardiographic, and hemodynamic perturbations in heart failure. More recently, he has been inspired by scientists at his institution who have performed pioneering work in ketone metabolism and fuel transitions in HF, and aims to translate these exciting discoveries from bench to bedside. Recent studies from these mentors and collaborators demonstrate that upregulation of ketone metabolism in HF is an adaptive response, highlighting its potential as a novel therapy. These preclinical discoveries have inspired Dr. Selvaraj to dissect the ketone metabolic axis in patients with HF. His previous research experiences as well as Master’s level training in translational research have well equipped him with the necessary skills as he focuses on metabolic adaptations in myocardial fuel utilization, specifically ketone metabolism. Dr. Selvaraj has authored more than 50 publications and his work has been independently supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Measey Foundation, American Society for Nuclear Cardiology, and the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Dr. Selvaraj is the PI of a randomized, crossover trial of exogenous versus endogenous ketosis to suppress myocardial glucose uptake, as well as the PI of a randomized controlled trial of ketone therapy in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Building on the anticipated results, he plans to prepare further studies of therapeutic ketosis in a larger, multicenter trials, as well as investigate the role of exogenous ketosis in patients with cardiogenic shock.

Joshua I. Siner, MD

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Joshua I. Siner, MD, is a clinical fellow in Hematology and Medical Oncology at Washington University in Saint Louis with an interest in classical hematology. He completed his medical degree at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and subsequently internal medicine training at Brown University with an emphasis on clinical education. Prior to entering clinical training, he studied under the mentorship of Dr. Valder Arruda investigating hemostasis, thrombosis, and translational studies of adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy for inherited bleeding and thrombotic diseases. Specifically across three specific domains, first the identification that PACE/furin is deleterious for factor VIII’s secretion through evolutionary and heterologous expression studies. Engineering out the PACE/furin recognition motif improved AAV-based factor VIII gene transfer in both hemophilia A mice and dogs, without comprising the immunogenicity of the transgene. He received the 2015 HONORS award (Hematology Opportunities for the Next Generation of Research Scientists to support medical student and resident trainee research) from the American Society of Hematology in support of this work. Second, assessing the thrombogenic and immunogenic risks of high functioning factor IX-Padua variant, which has been important safety data preceding AAV clinical trials for hemophilia B. Finally, assessing the biodistribution and risk for germline transmission of AAV vectors in large animals, serotypes that are now commonly used in gene therapy trials.

Dr. Siner’s current clinical interests are focused on classical hematology including congenital and acquired disorders of hemostasis, clinical trial development and implementation.

Romanos Sklavenitis-Pistofidis, MD

Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Romanos Sklavenitis-Pistofidis, MD, is a physician-scientist who specializes in experimental and computational immunooncology research in plasma cell malignancies. He received his MD with honors from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and completed his postdoctoral training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is currently an Instructor in Medicine in the Department of Medical Oncology at DFCI, HMS and the Broad. He also serves as a Fellow for the Broad Institute’s Research Communication Lab and an Ambassador for the American Society of Hematology.

His research focus is to determine genetic and immunological causes of disease progression from premalignant states, such as Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) and Smoldering Multiple Myeloma or Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia, to full-blown malignancy, with the goal of developing novel clinical-grade assays to improve risk stratification and patient outcome. Dr. Sklavenitis-Pistofidis’s research has been recognized with Young Investigator Awards from the International Myeloma Workshop, the International Workshop for Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia and the Hellenic Society of Hematology, and is supported by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s Research Fellowship Award, the International Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation’s Robert A. Kyle Award, and the Claudia Adams Barr Award for Innovative Basic Cancer Research.

Melanie H. Smith, MD, PhD

Weill Cornell Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Melanie H. Smith, MD, PhD, aims to understand, through her research, the different roles of tissue-resident synovial fibroblasts in arthritis using patient samples. Her training includes doctoral work in the lab of Dr. Jonathan Weissman on the recognition and regulation of misfolded proteins within the intracellular environment. Dr. Smith characterized protein-protein interactions involved in key cellular decisions using both biophysical and biochemical techniques and obtained a strong foundation in experimental design, communicating discoveries and publishing. During her PhD she became interested in autoimmunity and specialized in rheumatology because of the clinical as well as scientific challenges posed by the variety of clinical manifestations resulting from a break in self-tolerance. She came to Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) for both the superb clinical training as well as the research opportunities in the human immunology of inflammatory arthritis.

Dr. Smith is currently a postdoctoral fellow in immunology with a joint appointment in the labs of Laura Donlin (HSS) and Alexander Rudensky (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), and a clinical rheumatology fellow at HSS. Her joint appointment at these institutions allows her to work with outstanding clinicians, translational scientists and basic science immunologists. From this environment as well as from the FOCIS Advanced Immunology course, she has become well versed in immunology and honed her research interests to focus on interactions between tissue-resident stromal cells and infiltrating immune cells in the human synovium. Currently, her research focuses on understanding drivers of fibroblast heterogeneity in the rheumatoid arthritis synovium and how specific populations can either perpetuate inflammation or contribute to synovial homeostasis.

Andrew S. Terker, MD, PhD

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Andrew S. Terker, MD, PhD, is currently a research fellow in the Division of Nephrology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He completed his medical school training and graduate work at Oregon Health and Science University, where he studied distal nephron regulation of sodium and potassium transport in David Ellison’s laboratory. He arrived at Vanderbilt in 2017 where he completed his internal medicine residency and is currently working in Ray Harris’ laboratory. He studies the interaction of environmental and genetic effects on kidney injury and electrolyte balance. He spends his time away from the laboratory hiking, biking, climbing, and skiing with his wife, Samantha, and his three sons, Brody (8), Judah (5), and Ari (3).

Samuel Weinberg, MD, PhD

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

Samuel Weinberg, MD, PhD, is a Chicago native who completed his MD and PhD degrees in 2019 as a member of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program. He did his PhD work in the laboratory of Dr. Navdeep Chandel where his studies primarily focused on the role of mitochondrial metabolism in immune and stem cell function and as a potential target for cancer therapy. Specifically, this work demonstrated the importance of TCA cycle metabolites as novel regulators of hematopoietic stem cell differentiation and regulatory T cell function. Currently, Dr. Weinberg is a resident physician focusing on clinical pathology as well as a research fellow in the Physician-Scientist Training Program in the Department of Pathology at the McGaw Medical Center at Northwestern University. Going forward Dr. Weinberg is building off his PhD and is continuing to investigate how environmental metabolites and immune cell-intrinsic metabolic pathways causally impact the generation of protective immune responses in multiple disease contexts by leveraging a combination of clinically relevant animal models of viral infection, vaccination, and tumor development, rigorous mouse genetics, immune cell samples derived from patients with inborn errors of metabolism and metabolic syndrome, and a unique liquid-chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) metabolomics pipeline to identify causal metabolic pathways that could be used to alter adaptive immune function. Ultimately, he hopes to explore the early metabolic disruptions experienced by antigen presenting cells during infection, vaccination and malignancy to elucidate if these changes may underlie the development and progression of pneumonia and malignant processes with an ultimate goal of identify prognostic biomarkers and modifiable metabolic pathways to target in these conditions.

David Zemmour, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital
(affiliation at time of recognition)

About the awardee

As a physician-scientist, David Zemmour, MD, PhD, is passionate about improving medicine and understanding diseases through Immunology and Systems Biology approaches. He completed his medical education in Paris, France, at the Pierre and Marie Curie Medical school (now Sorbonne University Medical School). He then moved to Boston to pursue a PhD in Immunology at Harvard University. With Drs. Benoist and Mathis, David studied regulatory T cells, a subset of CD4 helper T cells, and their emerging role beyond controlling autoimmunity in regulating tissue homeostasis. His research leveraged novel technologies such as single-cell genomics to understand the transcriptional regulation underlying Treg functions in tissues, at the basis of Treg molecular engineering methods to promote homeostasis and prevent diseases (such as wound healing, colitis, diabetes). After his PhD, his curiosity about disease mechanisms and technology drew him to Pathology. He is currently completing a residency in Clinical Pathology and a Fellowship in Hematopathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and continuing his work on Tregs. He focuses on a rare primary immunodeficiency, IPEX, caused by mutations in FOXP3 that alter Tregs resulting in lethal systemic autoimmunity. Using single-cell genomics, he dissected the molecular mechanism of the disease, i.e., the transcriptional effect of FoxP3 mutations in Tregs, and proposed a two-step pathogenesis model with therapeutic implications. As a pathologist and immunologist, his vision is to leverage Systems Immunology approaches to analyze Tregs directly in human samples during normal and diseased conditions, opening new avenues to design the next generation of Treg diagnostics and therapeutics.