The AST Announces 2016 Achievement Award and Grant Recipients at ATC

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The AST announced the recipients of the 2016 Achievement Awards and the Faculty and Fellowship Grants at the recent American Transplant Congress (ATC) in Boston. The recipients were selected for their achievements and contributions to the AST and to the field of transplantation.

“This year’s award and grant recipients are an inspiring group of transplantation professionals. They have been selected by their peers for the transformative role they have each played in shaping our field,” said AST President Dr. Anil Chandraker. “We applaud them for their dedication and success.”

AST Achievement Awards

AST Senior Achievement in Clinical Transplantation Award – Daniel C. Brennan, MD, FACP

Dr. Brennan’s investigative work transformed the clinical approach to CMV prophylaxis in renal transplant recipients. He also pioneered the use of thymoglobulin as an induction agent for transplantation. His investigative work on viral infections in the transplant recipient has made an indelible mark on the field of transplantation.

AST Mentoring Award – Laurence A. Turka, MD, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Turka has advised 22 rotating students and has been a member of 21 thesis committees. He has directly mentored 11 pre-doctoral students or graduate students, 26 post-doctoral trainees, and 2 junior faculty in his laboratory. Several of his mentees are now recognized leaders in the field.

AST Transplant Advocacy Award – Reg Green, Nicholas Green Foundation

Mr. Green began the Nicholas Green Foundation after his son Nicholas, killed in a tragic accident on vacation in Italy, became an organ donor to seven recipients. Through the Nicholas Green Foundation, a non-profit organization run by volunteer staff, Mr. Green promotes organ donation around the world. He has written two books on organ donation and has given talks in several countries to raise organ donation awareness.

AST Clinician of Distinction Award – Christin Rogers, PharmD, BCPS, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Considered an expert in the pharmacologic management of HIV and HCV transplant recipients, Dr. Rogers’ work has informed the transplant community about the complex pharmacologic issues associated with the co-management of immunosuppressant and antimicrobial agents.

AST Basic Science Established Investigator Award – Daniel R. Salomon, MD, Scripps Research Institute

Dr. Salomon’s over 140 publications and multiple patents attest to his highly productive scientific career. He has defined fundamental molecular mechanisms of T/B cell activation and regulation, he has produced detailed profiles of transcriptional and post-translational regulation relevant for transplantation, and he has defined biomarkers for predicting rejection and managing immunosuppressive therapy.

AST Clinical Science Established Investigator Award – Peter Nickerson, MD, University of Manitoba

Dr. Nickerson led the Canadian national standardization of HLA laboratory practice and the development of an interprovincial transplant network in Canada that has impacted the lives of hundreds of Canadians to date. His research on the genetic and immunologic basis of organ rejection has created new paradigms for transplantation.

AST Basic Science Investigator Award – Valeria Mas, PhD, University of Virginia

Dr. Mas’ work focuses on genomic and proteomic pathways in transplant recipients. Her lab was one of the first to identify a micro-RNA signature associated with kidney allograft dysfunction. She has also described a gene signature associated with progression of hepatocellular carcinoma, as well as signatures associated with liver transplant rejection.

AST Clinical Science Investigator Award – Dorry Segev, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Segev has been instrumental in the development of the Norwood Act, which allowed for the expansion of KPD in the US, and the HOPE Act, which has legalized the procurement of organs from HIV-infected deceased donors.

AST Basic Science Career Development Award – Leonardo V. Riella, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Riella’s research has focused on the basic science behind the immune response against the transplanted organ, and his immunology research has resulted in multiple first- or co-author publications in top-tier journals.

AST Clinical Science Career Development Award – Jennifer C. Lai, MD, MBA, University of California San Francisco

Dr. Lai has developed a research niche in defining and evaluating the impact of frailty in liver transplant patients. This topic lays the foundation for pre-habilitation for liver transplant candidates.

AST Faculty and Fellowship Grants

In 2016, the AST Transplantation Immunology Research Network (TIRN) facilitated the allocation of over 1.3 million dollars in research funding to investigators in transplantation. In addition to the annual career development grants that AST has awarded for over 20 years, the AST TIRN has aligned with outside organizations to offer research funding in specific areas of study.

AST TIRN/Astellas Basic Science Faculty Development Research Grant
Jason Wertheim, MD, PhD, Northwestern University

Dr. Wertheim’s research project is titled "Engineering Podocyte Microenvironments." Through the results of his study, he hopes to “contribute to current understanding of renal physiology and function, promote advances in treatments for renal dysfunction and failure, and provide critical knowledge in moving towards the long-term goal of developing reparative ex vivo renal tissue for future patient therapies.”

AST TIRN/Astellas Basic Science Fellowship Research Grant
Ines Llaudo, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Sponsor: Peter Heeger, MD

Dr. Llaudo’s research project is titled "Role of C5aR expression on myeloid cells in allograft tolerance." The research funding will assist Dr. Llaudo in reaching her goals of improving her knowledge in basic immunology based on the complement cascade, and learning how to perform hypothesis-driven experimentation using mouse models.

AST TIRN/Astellas Basic Science Fellowship Research Grant
Michael Mulvihill, MD, Duke University
Sponsor: Allan Kirk, MD, PhD

Dr. Mulvihill’s research project is titled “Role of Mitochondrial Injury in the Pathogenesis of Primary Graft Dysfunction following Cardiac Transplantation.” His project will “investigate the fundamental injury processes underlying primary graft dysfunction following heart transplantation and subsequent immune consequences that may contribute to graft dysfunction.”

AST TIRN/Bristol-Myers Squibb Translational Science Faculty Development Research Grant
Ana Konvalinka, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Toronto General Hospital

Dr. Konvalinka’s research project is titled "Interaction between Humoral Immune Response and Kidney Tissue Proteome in Antibody-Mediated Rejection." Dr. Konvalinka wishes to “apply advanced proteomics analysis and systems biology approaches to the study of kidney disease to improve diagnosis, inform treatment, and assess prognosis.”

AST TIRN/Genentech Translational Science Fellowship Research Grant
Thet Su Win, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Sponsor: Bohdan Pomahac, MD

Dr. Win’s research project is titled “The role of donor vs. recipient T cells in rejection of clinical face transplants.” Her efforts will focus in the growing field of vascularized composite transplantation, allowing her to combine her two passions – plastic surgery and transplant immunology.

AST TIRN/Genentech Basic Science Fellowship Research Grant
Jose Marino, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Sponsor: Gilles Benichou, PhD

Dr. Marino’s research project is titled "Initiation of T Cell Allorecognition by Donor-Derived Exosomes after Transplantation." His background is unique in that he completed his medical training in a developing country, and is now able to grow his knowledge and experience at a renowned research institution. He is interested in “techniques to achieve states of tolerance that will reduce transplantation-related costs for patients and hospitals around the world.”

AST TIRN/Novartis Pharmaceuticals Clinical Science Faculty Development Research Grant
Jennifer C. Lai, MD, MBA, University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Lai’s research project is titled “A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Home-Based Structured Physical Fitness Program for Liver Transplant Candidates.” Through her research she seeks to demonstrate that “improving physical fitness will result in high-impact outcomes including reducing mortality both before and after transplant as well as improving quality of life in all liver transplant patients.”

AST TIRN/Wood MacMillan Charitable Fund Transplant Nursing Grant
Tiffany E. Kaiser, PharmD, MSCR, University of Cincinnati

Dr. Kaiser’s research project is titled "Novel Medication Adherence Monitoring Strategies Utilizing Technology." In her study, which hopes to tackle the issue of patient non-adherence to medication regimens, she expects that "subjects receiving a technology driven, individualized, adaptive adherence intervention will demonstrate higher rates of medication adherence compared to those not receiving the intervention."

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About the AST

With 3,500 members, the American Society of Transplantation (AST) is the largest organization in North America representing transplantation professionals. The society is dedicated to advancing the field and improving patient care by promoting research, education, advocacy, and organ donation. The AST’s diverse membership includes physicians, surgeons, scientists, nurses, administrators, and other allied health professionals. For more information, visit