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Five Outstanding Young Gastroenterologists Receive AGA Foundation 2009 Research Scholars Award

Prestigious Program Encourages Young Investigators in Academic Gastroenterology

 

Bethesda, Maryland (May 27, 2009) – The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition has announced the 2009 American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Foundation Research Scholars. The grants have been awarded to five outstanding young gastroenterologists who promise to make significant strides in the field of gastrointestinal research.

“With the current economic times, research funding remains elusive for all scientists, especially those young scientists just beginning their career, despite their tremendous promise,” said Sidney Cohen, MD, AGAF, chairman of the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition. “The AGA Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition remains committed to continuing to help fund these gifted scholars, enabling them to continue their research programs. The pace of discovery must be sustained, and it is up to those of us in the profession to make it happen. The 75 grants we give out to gifted researchers each year boldly represents our commitment to progress.”

The 2009 AGA Research Scholars are:

  • Gregory Austin, MD, MPH, University of Colorado, Denver: The effect of macronutrients on gastrointestinal hormones and gastric emptying in obesity
  • Michele Battle, PhD, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee: Determining the role that GATAs play in intestinal development and function
  • Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, University of California, San Diego (Designated RSA in Geriatric Gastroenterology funded by Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.): Sex-specific effect of alcohol and obesity and adipocytokines in geriatric fatty liver disease in a prospective population-based cohort: Rancho Bernardo Study
  • Iryna Pinchuk, PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston: Colonic CD90+ myofibroblasts/fibroblasts: implication in the enhanced expansion of CD$+ CD25 high FoxP3+ regulatory T cells during colorectal cancer progression
  • Andrew Tai, MD, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: Functional characterization of a novel role for a phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase in hepatitis C virus replication

The prestigious Research Scholar Awards offer each scientist a total of $225,000 to help support his or her research over a three-year period. The goal of the Research Scholar Awards is to guarantee the perpetuation of strong science through the encouragement of young physician investigators and ultimately to improve patient care through digestive diseases research.

These extremely competitive awards ensure that bright, young physicians and scientists devote their careers to advancing the field of digestive health through research. Awards are based on the qualifications of the candidate, the quality of the candidate’s research proposal and the commitment of the candidate’s institution to protect 70 percent of his or her time for research.

The Research Scholar Awards program was launched in 1984 to provide crucial early support to investigators who show promise in academic gastroenterological research. The program’s premise recognized that resources awarded early on could provide a stable platform from which future research funding would be derived. During and after their time as an AGA Research Scholar, recipients have made important contributions to the field of gastroenterology and many former award recipients have gone on to hold distinguished appointments in major medical institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

Since 1984, the AGA and its Foundation has awarded more than $20 million to fund 150 Research Scholars and has provided a total of $38 million in grant funding. The 2009 Scholars were chosen by a distinguished 30-person national advisory committee chaired by David Brenner, MD, Dean and Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences at University of California, San Diego. Members of the committee include leading gastroenterologists from the Harvard University Medical School, Mayo Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Washington University, St. Louis.

The AGA Research Scholar Awards program addresses the critical problem of a lack of funding for entry-level researchers in gastroenterology. At a time of unparalleled scientific and clinical opportunity, the field of gastroenterology faces a significant decline in the number of gastroenterologists entering academic research careers. Although the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds a significant amount of gastroenterology research, it rarely funds young investigators working independently without a research track record. Additionally, NIH gastroenterology research funding is proportionately much smaller than for diseases with less or similar health impact (such as HIV/AIDS or breast cancer).

About the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition

The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition (FDHN) is the foundation of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA). The Foundation’s ultimate mission mirrors that of the AGA: to improve the human condition through understanding, preventing, diagnosing and curing digestive diseases. The Foundation raises funds for research and public education. Donors to the Foundation include AGA physicians, patients and family members of those who suffer from digestive diseases, national foundations and the pharmaceutical industry. For more information, visit www.fdhn.org.

About the American Gastroenterological Association The AGA is dedicated to the mission of advancing the science and practice of gastroenterology. Founded in 1897, the AGA is one of the oldest medical-specialty societies in the U.S. The AGA’s more than 17,000 members include physicians and scientists who research, diagnose and treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. For more information, visit www.gastro.org.

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