Awards and distinctions: December 2021

Russell woods, Associate Professor of HMS Ophthalmology and Associate Scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear, was awarded the Low Vision Research Award 2021 of Research to Prevent Blindness and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. The award is designed to serve as a catalyst to launch whole new lines of research that target damage to the visual system.

Woods’ research aims to better understand how the visual system responds to loss of foveal vision. He also plans to develop and assess the feasibility of a novel visual rehabilitation intervention that uses perceptual learning, oculomotor training, and scotoma awareness. If successful, this vision training approach could potentially open up a new category of visual rehabilitation methods for patients with central vision loss.

David reich, professor of genetics at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS, has been nominated to receive the Massry Prize 2021 from the Keck School of Medicine at USC with Svante Pääbo from the Max Institute for Evolutionary Genetics in Leipzig, Germany, and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Okinawa, Japan, and Liran Carmel, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

All three scientists are honored for their work in the field of ancient DNA. Together, they revolutionized the study of human evolution and provided a better understanding of who we are and where we come from. Information has already demonstrated how past evolution favored certain traits that are not well suited to our modern environment. The field will continue to have a major impact on our understanding of human biology and its foundations for human medicine. Scientists will receive the award and speak at an event in December.

Four HMS students and a post-doctoral fellow have been appointed to the 2022 Forbes 30 under 30 in health listing. The people and their profiles are:

Adam beckman is an MD / MBA student who is currently on leave to serve as special advisor to US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Beckman leads the office’s policy team, with tasks including working with the White House to center the national Covid-19 response around health equity.

Jacques Diao, a MD candidate in the Harvard-MIT program in health sciences and technology, helped change national recommendations to eliminate the use of breed in kidney function tests through his research. His research found that when the breed was removed from these tests, the diagnosis and results improved dramatically. The National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology cited his research in their new recommendations released in October.

Victor Lopez-Carmen (known as Waokiya Mani in the Dakota language) is a medical student and co-chair of the United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, where he advocates for indigenous issues in international forums. During the pandemic, he founded Translations for our Nations, a grant-funded program that translates accurate information about Covid-19 into more than 40 indigenous languages. He also developed an Indigenous pipeline program at Brigham and Women’s to increase representation in the healthcare workforce. When he graduates from medical school, Lopez-Carmen will be the first registered male doctor in the Crow Creek Sioux tribe.

LaShyra Nolen, a medical student, works to right the racial injustice and lack of access to health care she saw in her community growing up. An advocate for health equity, social justice and the fight against racism in medicine, she has published commentaries in the academic and popular press and is also an appointed member of the White House Health Equity Leadership RoundTable.

Shriya Srinivasan, a researcher at HMS in Medicine at Brigham and Women’s, is developing better ways for human limbs to interact with prostheses through the use of brain-computer interfaces and tissue engineering. His inventions allow patients to control their prosthesis and receive sensory feedback signals about how the prosthesis moves and what it touches. About 30 amputee patients use his surgical designs.

Four HMS researchers were appointed to the 2022 Forbes 30 under 30 in science. The people and their profiles are:

Amin Aalipour, medical researcher at HMS and resident physician at Brigham and Women’s, is a physician-researcher specializing in improving early detection of cancers and co-inventor of four patents for cancer-related biomarkers. One of his inventions is a magnetic wire that enters the bloodstream and, in pig models, has collected up to 80 times more biomarkers than a single blood sample.

Malinda McPherson, a doctoral student in the Speech and Hearing Biosciences and Technology program at Harvard and HMS, studies how humans hear music. She discovered that humans have at least two distinct systems for processing tone, one of which helps listeners distinguish sounds in noisy environments. His fieldwork with indigenous groups in the Amazon advances our understanding of the universality of musical perception.

Xuyu Qian, HMS Fellow in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s, focuses on the use of brain organoids (3D tissue cultures) to model brain development and disease and has been published in Cell, Natural medicine, and Natural protocols. He was part of a research group cited by the CDC as key evidence that the Zika virus causes neurological birth defects.

Pranav rajpurkar, assistant professor of biomedical informatics at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS, runs a lab focused on applications of artificial intelligence for health, including deep learning algorithms for reading chest x-rays and EKGs that can make diagnoses comparable to those of humans. His research has more than 10,000 citations and he co-hosts the AI ​​Health podcast.

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