FY 18 School Update – Basic & Clinical Sciences, Centers and Institutes

Basic Sciences

Anatomy & Neurobiology – Jennifer Luebke, ad interim

  • Research – Anatomy & Neurobiology (A&N) faculty and their trainees published 75 original research articles and reviews in the area of the cerebral cortex in health and disease in 2017-2018. A&N also had a successful year with regard to research funding- obtaining $4,450,000 in new research grants and contracts.  Faculty receiving significant grant awards included: Bang-Bon Koo, PhD, who received a DOD-AMR award on “Computer aided decoding of brain-immune interactions in Gulf War Veterans”; Tarik Haydar, PhD, who was awarded an NIH/NINDS R01 on “Mechanisms of white matter development in Down syndrome”; Kip Thomas, PhD, who received a Pfizer contract to implement a “PFE Methodology Study”; and Jennifer Luebke, PhD, who was awarded and NIH/NIA R01 on “Mechanisms of Age-related Cognitive Decline in the Rhesus Monkey.”
  • Teaching – The department continued to excel in teaching of the anatomical sciences and of neuroscience in 2017-2018. Ann Zumwalt received the 2018 Stanley L. Robbins Award for Excellence in Teaching- the highest award for teaching, commitment to students and education at BUSM, and Dr. Tarik Haydar received the 2018 Educator of the Year Award for PhD Didactic Instruction from the Committee on Faculty Affairs.  Recruitment of two new faculty members will further strengthen and enhance the teaching mission of the department:  Dr. Jonathan Wisco, from Brigham Young University, is an accomplished and talented educator with a national reputation for excellence in anatomical science education and curriculum development.  Dr. Linda Afifi, from Tufts University Medical School is a well-trained and effective educator who will contribute significantly to all of the major teaching activities of the department.

Biochemistry – David Harris

  • Establishment of a Center for Network Systems Biology (CNSB) by Dr. Andrew Emili, who joined Boston University in 2017, and who is jointly appointed in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biology. This university center, housed in newly renovated Biochemistry departmental space on K3, employs sophisticated mass spectrometry techniques to study protein interaction networks, many of which play important roles in human disease. The official opening of the CNSB was marked by a well-attended celebration at the medical campus on October 3, 2017. The CNSB, combined with existing departmental strengths in analysis of glycans and posttranslational modifications, positions the department as a leader in biomedical mass spectrometry.
  • Our department has been tapping into the intellectually rich and translationally important areas of genetics and genomics by the hiring of new faculty members, in collaboration with the Genome Science Institute (GSI) at BUSM. Dr. Nelson Lau, who studies how RNA interference mechanisms, began as an Assistant Professor in the department on July 1, 2017. We will be recruiting additional faculty members at all levels in the coming year.

Microbiology – Ronald Corley

  • The Department of Microbiology, in collaboration with the NEIDL, has successfully recruited two new faculty, Robert Davies and Anthony Griffiths. These investigators are recognized experts in virology and viral pathogenesis, and focus their research on pathogens that require BSL-4 containment. They will be occupying their laboratories this summer, and bring with them a wealth of new expertise to enhance our ability to translate basic knowledge into treatments and vaccines for emerging pathogens.
  • Department faculty continue to be highly successful in obtaining external support for novel programs to study microbial diseases and host responses to those diseases. In the first nine months of this year, faculty have brought in more than $13.3M in new funding.

Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics – David Farb

  • Institutional Training Grant  Renewal of the NIH/NIGMS 2T32GM008541-21 through 26. PI: David H. Farb, PhD. Title: Training in BioMolecular Pharmacology. Continually funded since 7/1/1997.
  • Individual Training Grants Six Predoctoral PhD and MD/PhD Students received individual NRSA and MSTP Awards: 4 F31 (PhD) + 2 F30 (MSTP): Kevin Clayton, PhD; Alissa Frame, MD, PhD; Yoonjoo Lee, MD/PhD; Brandon Maziuk, PhD; Cassie Moore, PhD; Marc Vittoria, MD/PhD.
  • 41% of the PhD and MD/PhD students enrolled full-time in the Pharmacology program are supported by NIH training grant funds. 17% of the 48 PhD students in the Pharmacology program are supported by Biogen and Pfizer.
  • Student Competitions – Alissa Frame, MD/PhD Program received American Medical Women’s Association Linda Brodsky MD Essay Award.
  • High-Profile Publications: 
  •  Honors:
    • Tsuneya Ikezu, MD/PhD, 2018 Spivack Excellence in Neurosciences Award
    • Karen Harnett, PhD, 2018 Educator of the Year in Pre-Clinical Medical Sciences
    • Neil J. Ganem, PhD, 2018 Educator of the Year in Graduate Medical Sciences, Dissertation Advisors
    • Alissa Frame, MD/PhD Program, Received the BU Women’s Guild Katherine Connor McLaughlin Award

Physiology & Biophysics – David Atkinson

Francis Collins, NIH Director, wrote a blog post regarding faculty member Chris Akey and his collaborators.

Clinical Sciences

Dermatology – Rhoda Alani

  • Expanded Center for Ethnic Skin received national recognition for outstanding clinical and The Department of Dermatology received a generous gift from the family of G. Robert Baler, MD to support the endowment of the G. Robert Baler, MD Junior Faculty Professorship in Dermatology.  We were delighted to install the first recipient of this honor, Dr. Debjani Sahni, at a ceremony attended by Dean Antman and other institutional leadership in June of this year.
  • Members of Dr. Alani’s research team published groundbreaking research on epigenetic approaches to melanoma in the journal, Nature Communications, which drew significant media attention given the implications of these research findings for the future treatment of melanoma patients.
  • Deborah Lang was the recipient of the Inaugural Daneen & Charles Stiefel Investigative Scientist Award from the American Skin Association.  This prestigious award is given for groundbreaking research in melanoma by a mid-career faculty member in the US and is accompanied by a $100,000 grant award for the recipient.

Family Medicine – Brian Jack

The Department celebrated its 20th anniversary. Highlights include:

  • 84 faculty members working at 12 sites generating over 100K patient visits in AY17, collectively changing the face of primary care in Boston.
  • Our collaboration with the CHCs in the Boston HealthNet is a model for the nation.
  • 147 residency graduates with 55% staying to work at Community Health Centers or at BMC. Among residencies whose mission is to train residents to care for the underserved, this is among the best retention rates in the country.
  • Doubling the size of the residency and launching a FM-Psychiatry residency program.
  • A collaborative maternity care with Ob/Gyn and Midwifery, which serves as a model of teamwork in US hospitals.
  • The FM/Boston HealthNet geographical inpatient service admitted over 3800 patients last year and was among the leaders in the hospital in quality metrics.
  • The DFM teaches BU medical students throughout all 4 years, including the Essentials of Public Health course, and the FM clerkship consistently places among the highest rated clerkships at BUSM.
  • The DFM runs the two most continuously funded FM Global Health Programs in the US.
  • DFM faculty have generated nearly 85 million dollars to fund research program and trained over 20 academic fellows to be primary care researchers of the future.
  • DFM faculty run a Master’s program in Health Professional Education and the Medical Anthropology and Cross Cultural Practice is well integrated into the department.
  • The Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities and the Sports Medicine program and fellowship continue to grow and provide much needed services.

Medical Sciences & Education – Hee-Young Park

  • Hosted 13th Annual McCahan BUMC Education Day.
  • Launched Introduction to Careers in Medicine program for the local high school students who are interested in exploring careers in healthcare.
  • Led the efforts for the BAHEC and BUMC partnership. Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC) is part of the Massachusetts Area Health Education Center (MassAHEC) Network, whose mission is to address health care disparities with a focus on workforce development. Through the Division of Child and Adolescent Health at the Boston Public Health Commission, BAHEC serves as a program for Boston youth that provides knowledge and awareness about health-related careers in an effort to increase the number of youth from underserved populations who successfully pursue careers in health-related fields. BUMC has partnered with BAHEC for this mission and implemented enrichment programs as part of BAHEC’s Summer Enrichment Program and BAHEC’s After-School Academic Year Program. The programs include topics such as medicine, dentistry, public health and are taught by BU faculty on the Medical Campus. Long-term goal is to help guide the path of youth from underserved populations to become future physicians and health care workers.

Medicine – David Coleman

  • Implementation of a new Single Cell Sequencing and Analysis Core;
  • Established multi-disciplinary clinic for patients with Sickle Cell Disease;
  • Initiated use of the Watchman Device for Atrial Fibrillation;
  • Implemented the Education Evaluation Core.

Neurology – David Greer

  • Ann McKee, MD, was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2018

Neurosurgery – James Holsapple

  • Successful recruitment of neurovascular surgeon Dr. Justin Moore
  • Comprehensive Stroke Certification (Neurology, Neurosurgery)

Obstetrics and Gynecology – Aviva Lee-Parritz

  • Integration of 382 medical students into departmental Quality Improvement  projects dedicated to reducing disparities in maternal health
  • Expansion of research — Our departmental research mission is to improve health for women in vulnerable populations. A core focus of our research portfolio is optimizing reproductive rights, choice and health for women.
    • NIH Contraceptive Research Center Grant Award:  Antibody-based Contraceptive MPTs: Preclinical and Clinical Research. This is a new Contraceptive Centers Cooperative Agreement (U54) grant to develop human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that can passively immunize the vagina to achieve contraception and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Total cost: 9,751,735. PI: Deborah Anderson, PhD.
    • $3.2 million Massachusetts State grant over the next 5 years to increase contraceptive use across Massachusetts, particularly long-acting devices, focusing on the maternity hospitals. PI: Katharine White, MD, MPH.

Ophthalmology – Stephen Christiansen

  • Andrew Taylor and Haiyan Gong both received funding through the Wing Tat Lee Fund for collaborative research projects in mainland China and Hong Kong.
  • Susannah Rowe was named the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Physician Wellness and Vitality.

Orthopaedic Surgery – Paul Tornetta III

  • Rolled out a new preoperative checklist, the S.A.F.E. pathway to surgery.  This novel screening tool provides a comprehensive review of risk factors for complications after elective orthopaedic surgery and steps to avoid them. It includes social determinants of health.
  • Recruited Michael Kain, an established hip reconstructive surgeon to BU.  He expands our ability to care for young adult hip disease.
  • Matched our first fellow in Joint Reconstruction

Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery – Gregory A. Grillone

Recruited three new faculty to the Department:

  • Jessica Pisegna, PhD, was appointed Director of the Division of Speech Language Pathology. Dr. Pisegna is an ASHA certified Speech Language Pathologist. Her clinical practice centers on rehabilitation of adult swallowing, voicing, and speech disorders in the outpatient and inpatient settings. She focuses her research on adult evaluation and treatment methodology as it relates to clinical outcomes. New developments in the department under her leadership include 7-day per week stroke coverage allowing for Comprehensive Stroke Center designation, implementation of a laryngeal rehabilitation immediately post-operatively for head/neck cancer patients, initiation of transgender voice services, and the addition of 6 new clinicians on the SLP team. She is looking to grow the research abilities of her team to better inform the field about adult swallowing and voicing disorders. Dr. Pisegna has numerous publications and regularly contributes presentations to scientific and clinical forums on an international level.
  • Lauren Tracy, MD, will begin as a full-time faculty member in September. Dr. Tracy is a graduate of Tufts University and the Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Tracy trained in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery at the University of North Carolina and she then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in laryngeal surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital with Dr. Steven Zeitels. Her clinical interests include all aspects of laryngology including in-office procedures, care of the professional voice, laryngeal carcinoma, and airway reconstruction.
  • Eugenie Du, MD, was recruited as a full-time faculty member based at the Boston Veterans Administration Healthcare System. Dr Du was born in Kunming, China but grew up in Victoria, BC, Canada and Northern California. She studied Biology and Political Science at Williams College and then obtained her medical degree from the University of Chicago. She completed her residency in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center followed by a fellowship in Advanced Head and Neck Surgery and Microvascular Reconstruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She subsequently obtained a Master’s in Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill with an interest in quality of life and cost-effectiveness research.

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine – Daniel Remick

  • Pathology has recruited eight new faculty members including six full-time members and two part-time members. These faculty will replace departing faculty and augment our service, teaching and research missions.
  • A contract with the National Cancer Institute was obtained to standardize technologies for biomarkers to identify Thrombosis in Cancer Patients. This contract capitalized on the biobanking initiatives within the Department. The project has been so successful that the contract was extended.

Pediatrics – Bob Vinci

  • The Department of Pediatrics established The Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family. The Center is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of children and families living in Boston’s most impoverished neighborhoods. The Center has received a 1.2 million dollar award from the Pincus Family Foundation to guide innovation at BMC Pediatrics with subsequent dissemination nationally. The guiding principles of the Center are:
    • Link Child and Family Health to Community
    • Family Engagement
    • Congruence with National Trends in Healthcare
    • Drive Culture Change
    • Continuous Learning
  • The Urban Health Track of the Boston Combined Residency Program was awarded the 2017 Academic Pediatric Association Teaching Program Award. The purpose of this award is to foster excellence in teaching pediatrics by giving national recognition to outstanding pediatric teaching programs, and to highlight the accomplishments of the many creative individuals who have worked in this important area.
  • The Department of Pediatrics established two new programs to treat patients that suffer from Substance Use Disorders: The Catalyst Program under the direction of Sarah Bagley, MD, provides multidisciplinary care to teenagers and young adults. The SOFAR program under the direction of Eileen Costello, MD, provides comprehensive health care to infants and their mothers. The goal of SOFAR (Supporting Our Families through Addiction and Recovery) is to create a medical home in the pediatric primary care clinic for mothers in recovery and their children. SOFAR provides ongoing support for families to enhance child development as well as ongoing support for recovery, with access to specialty care and social services.

Surgery – Jennifer Tseng

  • Tseng was appointed Deputy Editor of JAMA Surgery and named President Elect of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons (SAAS). BUSM/BMC will host the SAAS annual meeting in 2019.
  • The Socially Responsible Surgery (SRS) group, founded by faculty and led largely by residents, has become a leader of and national model for this growing movement. Last year, SRS had a major presence at national meetings, advocated on Capitol Hill, and increased its research of surgical disparities.

Urology – Richard Babayan, MD

  • All six senior Urology Faculty members (Drs. Babayan, Oates, Munarriz, Wang, Ng and Katz) were recognized by Boston Magazine’s designation of Boston’s Best Doctors.
  • Establishment of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery (CTMS)

Centers and Institutes

Alzheimer’s (and CTE) Center – Neil Kowall

Our two biggest items were papers by Dr. Ann McKee’s group published in JAMA and Dr. Lee Goldstein’s group published in Brain (Tagge et al)

  • JAMA (Mez et al 2017)—”Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football”
  • Brain (Tagge et al., 2018) “Concussion, microvascular injury, and early tauopathy in young athletes after impact head injury and an impact concussion mouse model” also received a lot of attention in the scientific, medical, and lay media. It spotlights clinical to preclinical research, including basic-to-translational “bench to bedside” science) that is directly relevant to core mission of BU AD/CTE Center. For what it’s worth, our paper is still the highest Altimetric scoring paper at the journal (#1 of 4,613).

Amyloidosis Center – Vaishali Sanchorawala

  • Lawreen H. Connors, Director of the Gerry Amyloid Research Laboratory of the Amyloidosis Center, is the recent recipient of an NIH High Priority, Short-term Project Award (R56) from the National Institute on Aging that will help fund continuation of her research project, “Molecular mechanism of senile cardiac amyloidosis.”  The award provides interim research support designed to enable a principal investigator to gather additional data for revision of an R01 application.
  • The XVIth International Symposium on Amyloidosis was held in Kumamoto, Japan, from March 26-29. Twenty members of research and clinical teams of Amyloidosis Center attended and presented research at this meeting. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss amyloid research with investigators from around the world and to initiate collaborations. Several of the presentations were made by our students and trainees.

Genome Science Institute – Richard Myers, Anita DeStefano, Alla Grishok

  • A major objective of the GSI has been for the recruitment of additional faculty in Genetics and Genomics. The GSI co-chaired the search committee that recruited Dr. Nelson Lau, Associate Professor, to the Department of Biochemistry.  Lau received his PhD from MIT and Whitehead in 2004. He characterized microRNAs as a new class of small RNAs while working with David P. Bartel and purified mammalian piRNAs during his postdoc with Robert Kingston at MGH. Dr. Lau has received several awards, among these, a Searle Scholar Award in 2010 for his work on small regulatory RNAs and Piwi proteins.  We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Lau to BU.
  • GSI awarded Seed Grants to Dr. Joshua Campbell for his application “Characterization of smoking-associated mutational signatures in airway epithelial cells using whole-exome sequencing.” And to Dr. Ivana Delalle for her application “The function of Alzheimer’s Disease associated genetic variants: Genotype Based Phenotyping and Characterization in iPSC derived neurons and oligodendrocytes from Framingham Heart Study Participants”. These were selected by a panel of eleven judges from fourteen applications based on their potential for future NIH funding.

Military and Post-Deployment Health – Glenn Markenson

  • Created a team comprising members from the medical and public health community who work to forge new partnerships with the military community, both locally and around the country. Thus far we have collaborated locally with BU’s Institute for Health System Innovation, BU’s College of Engineering, and Boston Medical Center; nationally, we are working with the University of Texas Military Health Institute, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Uniformed Services University.
  • Expansion of research portfolio and acquired $4 million in grants from Uniformed Services University for biomedical engineering research.

Proteomics & Mass Spectrometry – Catherine Costello

  • 2018 HEI-SIG Shared Instrumentation Award – The NIH Shared Instrumentation program awarded a High-End Instrumentation-Shared Instrumentation Grant ($1,356,361;  P.I. Catherine E. Costello) to Boston University for a Thermo-Fisher Scientific Orbitrap Fusion Lumos Tribrid Mass Spectrometer system and related components that will enhance the outstanding resources of the BU Center for Biomedical Mass Spectrometry (CBMS). The PI is a William Fairfield Warren Professor and the Founding Director of the Center. She has been the PI of a previous HEI-SIG (in 2009), in addition to three SIG grants (1995, 2001, 2012). Prof. Joseph Zaia, the Associate Director of the CBMS, has been the P.I. of two SIG Awards (in 2006 and 2016). These seven awards represent a 100% success rate for SIG proposals submitted by the two investigators; it seems likely that their NIH SIG awards exceed in number and cumulative amount ($5,083,022)  the total of all other grants from this program that have ever been awarded to Boston University. The Orbitrap Fusion Lumos system is currently being installed. It will bring significant new capabilities to the Center and will be used to advance research projects based on both the Medical Campus and the CRC, and collaborative projects with nearby institutions.
  • Honor Issue of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry – The June 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, Vol 29(6), 1061-1318) was designated as a Focus issue in honor of Dr. Costello, in conjunction with her 2017 ASMS Distinguished Contribution to Mass Spectrometry Award. The award recognized her leadership in the field and many contributions to the determination of the structures and functions of glycans and glycoconjugates. The authors of the nineteen papers in this Focus issue are based in eleven countries, including the US and Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. She donated the $10,000 award to support activities of the CBMS.

Pulmonary Center – Joseph Mizgerd

  • Faculty additions – New faculty included the recruitments of Assistant Professor Markus Bosmann from U-Mainz and Associate Professor Jason Rock from UCSF, as well as new appointments to Assistant Professor Ehab Billatos, Assistant Professor Jon Iaccarino, and Instructor Joe Kaserman.
  • Published contributions: To highlight several among many, scientific advances included a new cell-type in the airways of the lung (from Matt Jones and Alan Fine, in JCI), derivation of lung alveolar epithelium from induced pluripotent stem cells (from Darrell Kotton, in Cell Stem Cell), connections between house dust bacteria and asthma risk (from George O’Connor, in JACI), ATS Statements related to lung cancer screening specific to smoking cessation or to biomarkers (from Renda Wiener and colleagues, in AJRCCM), and an NHLBI Workshop that determined pneumonia research priorities (led by Jay Mizgerd and colleagues, in AJRCCM).

Regenerative Medicine (CReM) – Darrell Kotton

  • We received the AAMC’s inaugural “research resource sharing award”
  • We published the first derivation of lung alveolar cells from human pluripotent stem cells, including the first gene editing of these cells to correct a devastating genetic lung disease that affects children:
    Jacob A et al. Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells into Functional Lung Alveolar Epithelial Cells.  Cell Stem Cell. Oct 5, 2017  PMID: 28965766.
    Click for pdf: Jacob et al 2017
  • We also had a banner year in terms of featured papers on the purification of lung progenitors from iPSCs and we published the generation of the first “Bronchospheres” from iPS cells made from patients with cystic fibrosis.

Slone Epidemiology Center – David Kaufman

  • Obtained a 13.7 million dollar grant from NCI to continue the Black Women’s Health Study for another five years, following 22 years of continuous funding (Rosenberg, Palmer).
  • Awarded a grant from NICHD to conduct a randomized, placebo-controlled, masked trial of extended caffeine treatment in preterm infants (Corwin).
  • Awarded a PCORI grant to conduct a randomized trial of an online insomnia treatment program within the Black Women’s Health Study (Rosenberg).

Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute – Flora Sam

  • Flora Sam, MD, professor of Medicine, was appointed ad interim director of WCVI, replacing Kenneth Walsh, PhD, who went to University of Virginia. A national search is underway.
  • The Institute is in a state of research growth with year one funding for all new grants up 77% this academic year (July 1, 2017- June 30, 2018) from year one funding of new grants in the prior academic year (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017).
  • A new pilot grant program for early career investigators was initiated (assistant professors, instructors and post-doctoral fellows). A subsequent competitive round will take place in spring 2019.

Women’s Health – Tracy Battaglia

  • TRIP: Translating Research Into Practice – Funder: NCATS. PIs: Tracy Battaglia, Karen Freund, Jennifer Haas and Stephenie Lemon. Funding periods: 9/1/2017-5/31/2022. Investigators at Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), Tufts CTSI, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Catalyst (the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center), and University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) won a five-year, $8.6 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) for a project called Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP). TRIP will be implemented across six clinical sites in Boston to develop, test, and disseminate a replicable, high-quality coordination of care approach for vulnerable populations experiencing disparities.
  • Women’s Health Network — Funder: MADPH. Funded amount: $495,834.00. PIs: Tracy Battaglia & Amy Fitzpatrick. Assistant Director: Shwetha Sequiera. Funding period: 5/10/2018-6/30/2019. Funded by the CDC and MADPH, the WHN aims to increase breast and cervical cancer screening rates in specialized populations by focusing on evidence based strategies and system changes. BMC working with community partners from the African Community Health Initiative and Asian Women for Health will provide cancer screening, case management, and patient navigation to approximately 2400 underserved women; increase public awareness about breast and cervical health; and offer professional development opportunities and quality improvement opportunities for clinical providers and community health workers.