Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and neurology at BUSM,
Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and neurology at BUSM, has been awarded the Zenith Fellows Award from the Alzheimer’s Association. The three-year, $450,000 award will support Wolozin’s research in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. The goal of this work is to determine the molecular foundation of the proteins responsible for causing Alzheimer’s.
Wolozin will use molecular and cell culture approaches to investigate a novel molecular program causing formation neurofibrillary tangles. The tangles result from misfolding of tau proteins, which according to the researchers, leads to cognitive loss in individuals with Alzheimer’s. The samples will be analyzed to characterize the signatures of the molecular program, termed stress granules, as they combine in the neurofibrillary tangle that forms in the brain.
“This work could lead to a new understanding of disease mechanisms and novel therapeutics that are able to prevent pathological misfolding of tau protein,” said Wolozin. “The Zenith Award emphasizes the importance of this work.”
Using a wide range of approaches from molecular to epidemiological to study neurodegenerative diseases, Wolizin’s laboratory at BUSM focuses on the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. His previous research includes examining the role of cholesterol in Alzheimer’s and how statins may affect the pathophysiology of the disease. His work on Parkinson’s examines the interaction between genes and environmental factors implicated in the disease.
Wolozin earned his MD and PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed postdoctoral fellowships and Mount Sinai Medical Center and the National Institute of Mental Health.
A study led by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) demonstrates a new mechanism involving a signaling protein and its receptor that may block the formation of new blood vessels and cancer growth. The findings are published in the December issue of Science Signaling.
Angiogenesis creates new blood vessels in a process that can lead to the onset and progression of several diseases such as cancer and age-related macular degeneration.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a signaling protein produced by damaged cells, which binds to one of its receptors VEGFR-2, located on the surface of blood vessel cells. Once VEGF is bound to its receptor, it is activated and sends a biochemical signal to the inside of the blood vessel cell to initiate angiogenesis. There are currently multiple Federal Drug Administration-approved medications that target this process. However these medications are limited by insufficient efficacy and the development of resistance.
The researchers demonstrated that a biochemical process called methylation, which can regulate gene expression, also affects VEGFR-2, and this can lead to angiogenesis. Using multiple methods, the researchers were able to interfere with the methylation process of VEGFR-2 and subsequently block angiogenesis and tumor growth.
“The study points to the methylation of VEGFR-2 as an exciting, yet unexplored drug target for cancer and ocular angiogenesis, ushering in a new paradigm in anti-angiogenesis therapy,” said Nader Rahimi, PhD, associate professor of pathology, BUSM, who served as the study’s senior investigator.
Ed Hartsough, a graduate student and Rosana Meyer, a postdoctoral fellow at the department of pathology, BUSM, are the co-primary authors. Funding for this study was provided in part by the National Institutes of Health through grant award numbers R01EY017955, P41 RR010888/GM104603, S10 RR020946, HHSN268201000031C and DK080946 AQ12 and the Massachusetts Lions Foundation.
Submitted by Ravi Lakdawala, MD
Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) physician researchers have been selected as Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) winners, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Karen Buch, MD, a third year radiology resident at BMC, and Ducksoo Kim, MD, professor of radiology at BUSM and director of the vascular and interventional radiology fellowship at BMC, will use nanotechnology to develop a next-generation condom to prevent breakage and improve efficiency in order broaden its appeal and increase usage.
Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) provides funding worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in solving persistent global health challenges. This project is one of more than 80 funded through Round 11 of the GCE. Winners demonstrated a bold idea critical global heath and development topic areas, which included the development of the next generation condom.
According to the Grand Challenges in Global Health website, condoms have been used for approximately 400 years and are an effective method of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections and preventing pregnancy. However, the widely-held stigma about condoms is that they decrease sensation and pleasure during intercourse. In order to increase their usage, BUSM/BMC researchers will investigate ways to create an innovative condom that would debunk the stigma by increasing sensation.
With this grant, Buch and Kim will develop a nanoparticle coating for condoms that will make them more comfortable and stronger while simultaneously keeping them thin to preserve – and increase – sensation in order to make them more appealing to use.
“We are honored to be a recipient of a GCE grant project in order to examine this important public health issue,” said Buch and Kim. “We look forward to using nanotechnology to create a condom that is both effective and does not diminish sensation, which could help convince more people to use condoms and potentially reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections.”
Buch graduated from Tufts University in 2004 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a second major in Biomedical Engineering and received her medical degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2010. Buch, who is pursuing a career in neuroradiology, has research interests including microfabricated electromechanical systems (MEMS), microfabrication of biomaterials and traumatic brain injuries.
Kim also is chief of vascular and interventional radiology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. He received his medical degree from Catholic University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea and completed a residency in diagnostic radiology at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in 1981. He continued his NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship training in cardiovascular and interventional radiology at Stanford University Medical Center (1981-1983).
After his fellowship training, he served as an academic cardiovascular and interventional radiologist at various academic medical centers: Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (1983-1998) as associate professor of radiology and chief of cardiovascular and interventional radiology followed by UMass Medical School (1999-2006) as professor of radiology and surgery and chief of cardiovascular and interventional radiology and Boston University School of Medicine (2006-Present). He also is the former chief of cardiovascular and interventional radiology at BMC (2006-2011).
Kim has been acknowledged for his passion in educating and training medical students and young physicians. He has developed and patented many innovative medical devices for various minimally invasive medical procedures and has published and presented more than 200 scientific papers and edited textbooks (Peripheral Vascular Imaging and Intervention, 1992 and Vascular Imaging and Endovascular Intervention, 2014). Kim also is a Diplomat of the American Board of Radiology and a Fellow of the Society of Interventional Radiology.
From left: Jag Bhawan, MD; Barbara Gilchrest, MD; Michael Lichtman, MD; Rhoda Alani, MD; Dean Karen Antman, MD; Vincent Falanga, MD; Peter Pochi, MD ’55; Michael Rosenbaum, MD ’78.
Two of the most renowned dermatologists and long-time BUSM Department of Dermatology faculty members were honored during a professorship installation ceremony held on the medical campus November 8. Former Dermatology Chair Barbara Gilchrest, MD, and former Herbert Mescon Professor of Dermatology Peter Pochi, MD ’55, were lauded for their seminal contributions to the field and recognized with named professorships.
“Our recent professorship installations allowed the Department of Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine to celebrate its illustrious past, outstanding present, and bright vision for the future,” says Rhoda Alani, MD, Herbert Mescon Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology. “This was truly a celebration of the dedication to excellence that epitomizes Boston University.
Barbara Gilchrest served as BUSM professor and chair of dermatology for 23 years growing the department from 1.5 members to more than 40 full-time clinicians and researchers. An internationally recognized expert in skin aging, pigmentation and other effects of light on normal and diseased skin, she has authored or co-authored more than 450 articles and books. She has served in leadership roles in all major U.S. dermatologic organizations and has been repeatedly named among America’s Top Doctors. Gilchrest is a member of the Institute of Medicine and is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors. She currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
“Barbara Gilchrest is a truly remarkable person,” said Jag Bhawan, MD, professor of dermatology and pathology and head of the Dermatopathology Section. “Under her leadership four endowed professorships, one career development award, and two international fellowships were established in our department. In addition, she was able to convince BU leadership to give dermatology its own building. How many departments in the country have their own building?”
The first occupant of the Barbara A. Gilchrest Professorship in Dermatology is Vincent Falanga, MD, vice chair for research and program director for the Department of Dermatology and research professor of biochemistry. “Dr. Vincent Falanga was appointed as the Barbara A. Gilchrest Professor of Dermatology, connecting two world-renowned leaders in skin diseases research and two former department chairs through this new professorship,” Alani notes. “Both Drs. Falanga and Gilchrest are widely viewed as true visionaries in their fields of translation wound healing research, and photobiology, skin pigmentation, and photoaging respectively. It is truly amazing to have two such legendary figures in dermatology at our institution and to honor them in such a fashion.”
A Harvard Medical School graduate, Falanga completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital, a dermatology residency at the University of Pennsylvania and a dermatopathology fellowship at Roger Williams Medical Center. He has been a BUSM faculty member for 15 years also serving as assistant dean of clinical and faculty affairs and director of the BUSM Ambulatory Medical Clerkship at Roger Williams Medical Center.
A specialist in wound healing, Falanga was the first to successfully test and use bone marrow-derived in human non-healing wounds and was the first to use a human recombinant growth factor in chronic wounds. He led the research showing the effectiveness of living bioengineered skin in venous ulcers, which became the first ever FDA-approved bioengineered skin for wounds. Falanga also discovered the effectiveness of anabolic steroids for cryofibrinogenemic ulcers. As vice chair for research he directs studies related to tissue injury, repair processes and regeneration.
“We were also delighted to appoint Dr. Michael Lichtman as the Peter E. Pochi Assistant Professor of Dermatology,” says Alani. “A longtime member of the BU Dermatology faculty, Dr. Pochi is currently Professor Emeritus at BU where he made an illustrious career in academic dermatology and dermatologic research. His most notable accomplishments were in critical discoveries related to the roles of hormones and retinoids in the development of acne in patients. His discoveries were critical to the development of retinoid and hormonal therapies for the treatment of recalcitrant acne and his previous contributions were recognized by his appointment as the first Herbert Mescon Professor of Dermatology, an appointment now held by myself as department chair. Dr. Pochi retired from practice in 1991; however, he continued to make significant contributions to our institution through his generous donation of time and resources to supporting the School of Medicine and for which he received its Distinguished Alumnus Award.”
A 1955 graduate of BUSM, Pochi completed his internship and dermatology residency at BUSM. The author of more than 150 publications, he was associate editor of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and on the editorial boards of the Archives of Dermatology and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. He was also elected to the Board of Directors of the American Academy of dermatology and was vice-president of the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Pochi received the BUSM Frederick Jackson Faculty award for excellence in teaching and the BUSM Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Michael Rosenbaum, MD ’78, clinical associate professor of dermatology, recalled as a dermatology resident that, “Dr. Pochi showed me by example, great wisdom, compulsive tenacity in clinical problem solving and total respect for each individual patient’s unique life situation and personality. In addition to being the heart and soul of BU dermatology for decades, Dr. Pochi has also been a tireless and loyal supporter and builder of the medical school as a whole.”
“In naming Dr. Lichtman, a new faculty member in dermatology, as the Peter E. Pochi Professor, we link the department’s illustrious past to its brightest and best hope for the future,” adds Alani. “Dr. Lichtman will be pursuing a translational research program dedicated to the use of stem cells to treat patients with recalcitrant wounds. He will work collaboratively with Dr. Falanga in these efforts thus bringing the entire celebration full-circle. We were delighted to honor these tremendous leaders in dermatology and to celebrate their accomplishments and contributions to our specialty in such a meaningful way.
Lichtman received his medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his internal medicine residency at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center and dermatology training at the University of Texas Southwestern. Simultaneously, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he served as clinical director of the Angiogenesis and Wound Healing Center. His research focus is on the interface between immunology and stem cell biology to improve treatment of complex wounds.
“This event celebrates four careers, all active within the School of Medicine,” said Dean Karen Antman, MD. “Drs. Falanga, Gilchrest and Pochi are eminently distinguished professors of dermatology. Dr. Lichtman is launching his promising career with the resources of the Peter E. Pochi assistant professorship.”
Kenneth J.Rhodes, PhD, an alumnus of the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) Pharmacology Training program and vice president of Neurology Discover at Biogen Idec, led a group of researchers to discover Tecfidera, an oral medication to help treat relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Rhodes, who earned his PhD and completed a post-doctoral fellowship under Dr. David H. Farb at BUSM, led a team at Biogen Idec responsible for developing the Food and Drug Administration approved Tecfidera. The drug, also known as dimethyl fumarate, treats relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by delaying progression of physical disability and slowing the development of brain lesions associated with MS.
In a Biogen Idec press release, Rhodes stated that, “these exciting results support further research, as the data suggest that neublastin may have the potential to promote sensory neuronal regeneration and functional recovery following injury. The neublastin program is part of Biogen Idec’s commitment to innovative neurological science and discover.”
Rhodes joined Biogen Idec in May 2007 after spending ten years in the Neuroscience Department at Wyeth, where he also led neurodegeneration drug discovery teams researching MS among epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Rhodes has published over 50 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, and most recently was the Keynote speaker for the 2013 BU-Pfizer Symposium on “Therapeutic Innvoation: Oxidative Stress and the Next Generation of Discover.”
Submitted by Ravi Lakdawala, MD
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) have found that among heavy-drinking Russian HIV-infected patients, elevated depressive symptoms were associated with long-term alcohol use. These findings suggest that HIV-infected populations who are depressed are more likely to drink heavily. The study is published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Previous studies have shown that heavy drinking has been linked with HIV disease progression and may interfere with treatment. However, few studies have examined whether depressive symptoms are associated with subsequent alcohol use. The researchers used the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) definition of risky drinking, meaning men consuming more than four drinks on a single day or more than 14 per week and women consuming more than three drinks on a single day or seven per week.
“Approximately one-million individuals are living with HIV in
The researchers recruited HIV-positive individuals from 18–70 years old who reported unprotected sex and heavy drinking in the past six months from addiction treatment facilities in
According to the researchers, among heavy drinking HIV-infected patients, elevated depressive symptoms were associated with greater subsequent alcohol use. They also found that depressive symptoms were more strongly associated with the amount of drinks per day, rather than the number of days of heavy drinking.
“These results suggest an additional mechanism through which depressive symptoms may negatively influence HIV-related outcomes among this population. Findings from this study highlight the importance of addressing depressive symptoms among HIV patients who engage in heavy drinking,” said Tibor Palfai, PhD, professor of psychology in CAS and lead author of the study. The researchers propose that more studies are needed to address more specific subsets of HIV-positive populations.
The current study was supported in part by NIAAA, R01AA16059 (PI: Samet).
A new study recently published in Cancer Causes and Control by investigators from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, adds further evidence about the adverse effects of cigarette smoking on health. The researchers found that both active and passive smoking were associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in African-American women.
The data was collected during 14 years of follow-up among participants in the Black Women’s Health Study, a study of 59,000 African-American women that began in 1995. The participants updated information on their smoking habits throughout follow-up and also provided information on their exposure to the smoke of others (passive smoking). During follow-up for the present research, 1,377 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Among women who began smoking earliest and smoked most heavily, the incidence of premenopausal breast cancer increased by 70 percent. The associations were most apparent for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Passive smoking was associated with a 40 percent increase in risk of premenopausal breast cancer.
According to the researchers, the earliest studies of the health effects of smoking did not find an increased risk of breast cancer, probably because in those early years there were few long-term smokers. In recent years, studies of smoking and breast cancer have more consistently found an increased risk among women who smoked heavily for many years. Lynn Rosenberg, ScD, lead author of the study, believes that the evidence is now clear that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer. “What remains to be determined is whether there are particular times during life that smoking is particularly hazardous, such as before the first pregnancy, and whether there are particular groups of women who are especially vulnerable,” she said.
Funding for this study was provided by the National Cancer Institute.
Faculty members in BUSM’s program in Forensic Anthropology recently wrote a technical paper “Relaxation of Clenched Digits in Cadaveric Hands to Facilitate the Recovery of Postmortem Friction Ridge Impressions” that will appear in the January/February 2014 issue of Journal of Forensic Identification that demonstrated a simple technique to more easily obtain finger or palm print impressions of deceased individuals. This technique is particularly useful when determining identities resulting from mass casualty incidents.
Assistant Professor Donald Siwek, PhD and Instructor Gary W. Reinecke, retired FBI, detail how an incision placed at the crease of the wrist to sever the flexor tendons allows for access to the palmar surface of the hands in order to record postmortem fingerprint or palm print impressions for identification purposes. This technique will be proven to be helpful to the Medical Examiner community as well as law enforcement in general. Learn more about the Program in Forensic Anthropology at http://www.bumc.bu.edu/gms/forensicanthro-masters-program/
David J. Salant, MD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and chief, section of nephrology at Boston Medical Center (BMC), has been awarded the 2013 John P. Peters Award from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN). The award was presented at ASN Kidney Week in Atlanta earlier this month.
The John P. Peters Award recognizes individuals who have made substantial research contributions to the discipline of nephrology and have sustained achievements in one or more domains of academic medicine including clinical care, education and leadership. Established in 1983, this annual award is named for one of the fathers of the discipline of nephrology.
The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.
With over 130 contributions to scientific literature, Salant has written several clinical papers on diverse nephrological subjects and book chapters on glomerular diseases and vasculitis of the kidney. He served as chairman of the American Board of Internal Medicine Subspecialty Board of Examiners in Nephrology.
Salant earned his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He completed his residency at Johannesburg General Hospital, where he gained extensive experience in renal transplantation, dialysis and other aspects of clinical nephrology before coming to BMC and BUSM. He also is a faculty member of the renal training program at BUSM.
BUSM’s Domenic A. Ciraulo, MD, co-edited the recently published Second Edition of the “Clinical Manual of Addiction Psychopharmacology.”
The Second Edition provides a thorough update on the pharmacology of drugs and abuse, as well as the medications used to treat dependence on those substances. This manual delves into the broad range of addictive substances and covers the areas where significant advances have been made since the publication of the first edition.
“This book is an invaluable reference for clinicians, including psychiatrists, psychiatric residents and fellows, as well as other mental health practitioners who encounter individuals with substance-related disorders in the course of their clinical work,” said Dr. Ciraulo. “The material is presented in an organized fashion with the most up-to-date information on psychopharmacology.”
Dr. Ciraulo is the chairman of psychiatry and a professor at BUSM and the chief of the Department of Psychiatry at BMC. He co-edited the manual with Henry R. Kranzler, MD and Leah R. Zindel, RPh, MALS.