Asher Tulsky, MD, Named Distinguished Faculty of the Month for April

The Faculty Affairs Office is pleased to announce that Associate Professor of Medicine Asher Tulsky, MD, has been named April’s Distinguished Faculty of the Month. 

He joined our community in December 2015. Currently, he serves as associate chief for education in the Section of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine. He is also director of resident development in the internal medicine residency program at Boston Medical Center where he established and runs the professional development coaching program and directs the remediation program for residents in need. In addition, he has served on numerous school committee, including the Medical Education Committee, Student Evaluations and Promotions Committee, BU Medical Group’s Communications, Faculty Development and Wellness committees.

His nominators said, “These positions reflect his dedication to continuous improvement of the medical education system and student welfare.

“Dr. Tulsky is an outstanding educator with a deep and thoughtful commitment to meeting learners where they are, recognizing their needs and supporting them to achieve their best. He always looks for opportunities to give feedback constructively to encourage personal and professional growth. He focuses on learners facing challenges, looking for ways to engage and encourage them.

“He has provided invaluable guidance and support to numerous students, fostering their academic and professional growth.

Dr. Tulsky is “a tireless advocate for promoting clinician educators.”


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Researchers Awarded $14 Million to Better Understand, Treat Genetic Lung Diseases

A team of researchers led by Darrell N. Kotton, MD, the David C. Seldin Professor of Medicine, has been awarded a five-year, $14 million grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for his research, “Developing Pluripotent Stem Cells to Model and Treat Lung Disease.”

Lung diseases, such as those caused by gene mutations, result in significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. The advent of stem cell discoveries and regenerative medicine presents new opportunities to improve the understanding of these diseases and to develop new treatment approaches.

The new award will fund an integrated, multi-investigator program project grant where four interacting labs headed by four physician-scientists, all located in the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) of Boston University and Boston Medical Center, will develop next generation stem cell-based therapies for currently incurable genetic lung diseases affecting children and adults, including childhood and adult interstitial lung diseases, an inherited form of emphysema, cystic fibrosis and primary ciliary dyskinesia.

L to r: Finn Hawkins, Darrell Kotton, Andrew Wilson, Kostas Alysandratos

The four physician-scientists heading each lab include Kotton together with Professor of Medicine, Andrew A. Wilson, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Finn Hawkins, MBBCh, and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Kostas Alysandratos, MD, PhD. The four teams have worked closely together for several years on stem cell-based approaches for treating lung disease, including throughout the pandemic when they famously shared their stem cell bank with researchers across the world to develop new models for understanding and treating COVID-19.

“While it is hard to envision a more optimistic time in health-related research, treatments for many devastating lung diseases have not yet been realized, and clinical therapies in many cases still largely focus on treating symptoms,” says Kotton.

For the new project, Kotton and his teams have developed reprogramming methods to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients and have applied these methods to produce the largest known bank of lung disease-specific iPSCs. Having established these stem cell banks and protocols, Kotton now is focused on applying these resources to advance their mechanistic understanding of how gene mutations initiate airway and alveolar epithelial dysfunction resulting in disease. They seek to intervene with precision therapeutics or regenerative cell therapies. According to Kotton, they will focus initially on ameliorating or curing genetic lung diseases of the airway and alveoli, given that their proximal disease-driving gene mutations are well described.

“The researchers on this new project are not new to this mission, for they have worked together for many years in juxtaposed labs, publishing an extensive literature that provides a solid foundation upon which to now launch a concerted effort to move our field from basic discovery to therapeutic development,” said Kotton.

Kotton is an Allen Distinguished Investigator and an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigators and Association of American Physicians. He leads a basic research laboratory, continuously funded by the NIH since 2004 and serves on the NHLBI’s Board of External Experts. He is the recipient of the American Thoracic Society’s Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments (2018), the AAMC inaugural national Research Resources Sharing Award (2017), the Alpha-1 Foundation’s Researcher of the Year (2013) and Shillelagh (2010) awards, Boston University’s Graduate Medical Sciences Educator of the Year Award (2018), and the Robert Dawes Evans Senior Research Mentor Award from Boston University.

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DoM Faculty Member Receives 2024 Sexual Medicine Research Fund Award

Join us in congratulating Jai Marathe, MBBS, MS in receiving the 2024 Sexual Medicine Research Fund Award!

Jai Marathe, MBBS, MS, assistant professor of medicine/infectious diseases, and her team are developing monoclonal antibody-based products that can prevent sexually transmitted infections as well as pregnancy. Complement proteins participate in a number of antibody mediated immunological functions such as cell lysis, opsonization/phagocytosis and chemotaxis. The researchers will measure complement levels and activity in vaginal secretions and study the diffusion and function of a contraceptive anti-sperm antibody (Anti-CD52g) in vaginal and cervical mucus.

Learn About the First Annual DoM DEIA Week | March 18-22, 2024

The Department of Medicine will hold its first annual Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Week March 18th through March 22nd. In the DoM, we are dedicated to fostering a workplace that values and celebrates diversity, promotes equity, ensures inclusion, and prioritizes accessibility. We firmly believe that our collective differences make us stronger, and we are committed to creating an environment where all individuals, regardless of their background, feel valued, respected, and empowered.


Monday, March 18th

Showcase | Hiebert Lounge (Lunch will be served)

Poster Session 1 | 11:30AM-12:30PM
Poster Session 2 | 12:30PM-1:30PM
Showcase information

Posters created by DoM faculty, staff, and trainees to illustrate the ongoing DEIA work in the areas of research, education, programming, patient care, and beyond.

Tuesday, March 19th

Art Exhibit | Wilkins Board Room | All day

Meet the Artist | 10:00AM-11:00AM
Submit Your Artwork!!

Panel: Navigating DEIA in the DoM | Keefer Auditorium (Hybrid) | 12:00PM-1:00PM

Join us for a panel discussion featuring insights from Faculty, Staff, and Trainees, on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) within the Department of Medicine (DoM). The aim of this panel will be to hear from the panelists about their diverse experiences, perspectives, challenges, and hopes for DEIA efforts in DoM. The goal of this discussion will be to provide participants with a deeper understanding of the complexities, challenges and opportunities surrounding DEIA efforts within DoM.


Research Faculty: Kaku So-Armah, PhD, Associate Professor, GIM, Assistant Chair of DEIA
Staff: Kyla Botsian, MPH Candidate, Geriatrics Clerkship Coordinator
Clinical Faculty: Samantha Rawlins-Pilgrims, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor, GIM, Director of Population Health at BHCHP
Trainee Panelist - Kara Vasilew, PhD Candidate

Lunch will be served.

Wednesday, March 20th

Movie Discussion Night | Wilkins Boardroom | 5:00PM

Movie:  American Fiction

Join us for a discussion surrounding the 2024 Oscar Nominated film, American Fiction.
The movie will be streaming in the DoM conference rooms in the weeks leading up to DEIA week.

Pizza & drinks will be provided.

DEIA Week Movie Screenings:
Tues, 3/12, 11am-1pm, Evans Seminar Room
Tues, 3/12, 4-6pm, Wilkins Board Room
Wed, 3/13, 12pm-2pm, Evans Seminar Room
Mon, 3/18, 3-5pm, Wilkins Board Room
Wednesday, 3/20, 3-5pm, Wilkins Board Room followed by discussion & pizza

Supplemental Material:
Every era has its own 'American Fiction,' but is there anything new to say?
The Truth in 'American Fiction'
American Fiction is a rich story — but is it a successful satire?

Thursday, March 21st

DEIA Week Celebration | Hiebert Lounge | 4:00PM-6:00PM

DEIA Community & Group Resource tables
Food, drinks, stories and more!
Submit your DEIA story here

Friday, March 22nd

Grand Rounds | Keefer Auditorium | 12:00PM-1:00PM

"The Challenge of Inclusion: Past to Present"
Presented by Dr. Joan Y. Reede MD, MPH, MS

Kim Vanuytsel, PhD, Receives 2024 Scholar Award from the American Society of Hematology

Kim Vanuytsel, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, is one of 36 recipients of the American Society of Hematology’s (ASH) 2024 Scholar Awards. She is one of nine investigators recognized as Basic/Translational Research Junior Faculty Scholars. The award supports early career scientists dedicated to careers in hematology research as they establish themselves as independent investigators. She will receive $150,000 for her research project, “Improving transplantation outcomes through manipulation of hematopoietic stem cell repopulating potential.”

Vanuytsel is a stem cell biologist with expertise in developmental hematopoiesis (the blood cell production process), sickle cell disease and hematopoietic stem cell biology. Her research is focused on developing tools and resources to better understand important concepts in hematopoietic development with the goal of translating this knowledge into the realization of the immense potential that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and hematopoietic stem cells hold for disease modeling and regenerative medicine.

“The ASH Scholar Award offers crucial support, resources and mentorship to emerging scholars during their transition from training to establishing independent careers as investigators in hematology. Through this award, ASH recognizes their remarkable contributions and acknowledges their potential to transform the field,” said ASH President Mohandas Narla, DSc, of New York Blood Center Enterprises. “For decades, ASH has paved the way for fellows and early career faculty to have a lasting impact on hematology. We congratulate this year’s recipients and are excited to see how they improve the lives of individuals living with blood disorders.”

Originally from Belgium, Vanuytsel obtained her PhD from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven in Belgium), developing a disease model for Fanconi anemia using human pluripotent stem cells. She then joined the laboratory of George Murphy, PhD, at the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) at BU and Boston Medical Center (BMC) for her post-doctoral work.

As a member of BMC’s Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease, Vanuytsel is committed to finding better solutions for its large and diverse sickle cell disease patient population. Leading a research lab physically embedded within the CReM, her goal is to focus on issues at the intersection of stem cell biology, cell therapies and sickle cell disease. Her experience in these diverse but complimentary research fields, has equipped her with a unique perspective and skillset to make meaningful contributions to emerging cell therapies for sickle cell disease patients, and the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation as a whole.

ASH Scholar Awards are made possible through support from the ASH Foundation as well as from the corporate community, individual donors and funds committed by the Society. ASH is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 60 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training and advocacy in hematology.

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DoM Faculty Members Receive Spivack Pilot Awards

Join us in congratulating the awardees!

Shanshan Sheehy, ScD, assistant professor of medicine, studies whether perceived racism and structural racism increase the risk of stroke, and whether environmental injustice contributes to the disproportional stroke burden among Black women. Black Americans have a substantially higher prevalence of established stroke risk factors and are nearly twice as likely as White Americans to experience stroke. Disproportionate numbers of Black Americans have faced multiple life adversities, including racism, that are increasingly recognized as social determinants of health.

Ignaty Leshchiner, PhD and co-PI Stacy Andersen, PhD, both assistant professors of medicine, study nucleic acid biomarkers in blood compared to cerebrospinal fluid in neurogenerative disease and healthy brain aging in individuals with exceptional longevity. They use nucleic acid methylation patterns to identify the cell-of-origin of circulating molecules and characterize their genetic and epigenetic changes with age to develop blood-based monitoring techniques to study brain aging and disease.

DoM Assistant Professor Named 2024 Toffler Scholar

Ignaty Leshchiner, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, is the 2024 Toffler Assistant Professor!

The Toffler Scholar Program was established by the Karen Toffler Charitable Trust to support promising young medical researchers, physicians and scientists working on early-stage, future-focused brain science with funding and a vital, relevant network through an internal competition at the school.

Alzheimer’s disease encompasses distinct subtypes that are challenging to detect and differentiate during an individual's lifetime, often limiting treatment strategies to symptom management. Dr. Leshchiner is profiling circulating nucleic acids in the blood to identify biomarkers of Alzheimer’s subtypes that are common in solid tissue, cerebrospinal fluid and blood to develop a blood-based assay to detect and monitor Alzheimer’s disease.