The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Research Foundation has announced its 2011 research scholars. The grants have been awarded to four outstanding young gastroenterologists who promise to make significant strides in the field of gastrointestinal research.
"We have an unapologetically idealistic viewpoint that our work will help shape the future of our field, and are passionate about supporting and advancing the careers of young researchers by providing critical funding," said Nicholas F. LaRusso, MD, AGAF, chair of the AGA Research Foundation. "It is the work and discoveries of these gifted scholars that will open doors to new treatments and exciting new areas of knowledge. By fostering their growth, we are helping to ensure the future of gastroenterology and hepatology research and practice."
The 2011 AGA research scholars are:
- Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: A prospective study of diet and risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Carla Coffin, MSc, MD, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (AGA-Vertex Pharmaceuticals Research Scholar Award in Hepatitis C Translational Research): Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Quasispecies and Lymphotropism in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) Confected Patients.
- Karen Edelblum, PhD, University of Chicago, IL: Gamma delta (??) intraepithelial lymphocyte migration and epithelial interaction in intestinal disease.
- Anne Henkel, MD, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL: The role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in the pathogenesis of NASH.
The prestigious Research Scholar Awards offer each scientist $60,000 for two years to help support his or her research. The goal of the Research Scholar Awards is to guarantee the perpetuation of strong science through the encouragement of young physician investigators and, ultimately, to improve patient care through digestive diseases research.
These extremely competitive awards ensure that bright, young physicians and scientists devote their careers to advancing the field of digestive health through research. 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 protect 70 percent of his or her time for research.
The Research Scholar Awards program was launched in 1984 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. During and after their time as an AGA research scholar, recipients have made important contributions to the field of gastroenterology, and many former award recipients have gone on to hold distinguished appointments in major medical institutions in the U.S. and Canada.
The 2011 scholars were chosen by a distinguished 13-person national advisory committee chaired by Bishr Omary, PhD, MD, professor and chair of the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor. Members of the committee include leading gastroenterologists from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the University of Alabama, Birmingham; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, San Diego; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the University of Pittsburgh, PA; and Washington University St. Louis, MO.
The AGA Research Scholar Awards program addresses the critical problem of a lack of funding for entry-level researchers in gastroenterology. At a time of unparalleled scientific and clinical opportunity, the field of gastroenterology faces a significant decline in the number of gastroenterologists entering academic research careers. Although the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds a significant amount of gastroenterology research, it rarely funds young investigators working independently without a research track record. Additionally, NIH gastroenterology research funding is proportionately much smaller than that for diseases with more or similar health impact (such as HIV/AIDS or breast cancer).
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 $40 million in research grants to more than 600 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 www.gastro.org/aga-foundation.
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. www.gastro.org.