2016-05-24 23:26:25 UTC

Dr. Shaukat Receives AGA Young Investigator Award

May 22, 2016

AGA presents Aasma Shaukat, MD, MPH, with the AGA-GRG Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science at DDW® 2016.

AGA honors Aasma Shaukat, MD, MPH, with the AGA-GRG Young Investigator Award in Clinical Science. Dr. Shaukat has an undisputed reputation for emphasizing quality and excellence in patient care and clinical research. She is recognized nationally as a driving force in the area of colon cancer screening and prevention, and has made seminal contributions in the specific areas of chemoprevention, screening (both fecal occult blood tests [FOBT] and colonoscopy), and the molecular biology of interval colorectal cancers.

Within a year of taking her first faculty position, Dr. Shaukat was awarded a large society grant, a VA Career Development Award and a VA Merit Investigator Award. Submitting one grant in her first year would have put her in the front rank of young investigators; successfully obtaining all three is without precedent. She did this while also directing the University of Minnesota (UMN), Minneapolis, GI fellowship, winning multiple Teacher of the Year awards and continuing her impressive record of publications. This commitment and dedication to moving the field forward, plus her productive, effective, motivating and energetic personality, has made her highly successful from early on in her career.

As an associate professor at UMN and GI section chief at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, she is considered a rising star in both her institution and the field. Dr. Shaukat not only excels in the lab, but also as a collaborator and leader. She has been invited to present her work at numerous national and regional meetings and was selected as one of the mentees in the inaugural class of the AGA Future Leaders Program. She has received three colon cancer prevention awards and serves on the VA’s GI field advisory committee and the executive committee of CSP 577 (CONFIRM) trial, which is comparing two modalities of colorectal cancer screening. She is co-chair of a new VA Cooperative Study on fecal transplant for Clostridium difficile infections that uses a novel design. This trial has completed the planning process and is on its way to the evaluation committee with a high likelihood of success, a particularly remarkable achievement for a junior investigator.

Dr. Shaukat’s major contributions have all touched on colorectal cancer, pushing research and evidence-based practices to the next level. Early on in her career, she demonstrated her level of commitment to clinical research through her work on the biomarkers of risk of colonic adenomas and the effect of calcium/vitamin D, and a meta-analysis on the role of calcium chemoprevention. Upon joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Shaukat continued this dedication by taking the lead in the analysis of the long-term follow up of the Minnesota FOBT trial, the only large controlled trial of FOBT performed in the U.S. Dr. Shaukat was the first author of the paper that reported the follow-up of up to 30 years showing a persistent 33 percent reduction in CRC mortality in the group screened every year, as well as a 20 percent reduction in those screened biennially. This important study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine with Dr. Shaukat as the lead author, and has had substantial impact on the most recent national CRC screening guidelines of both the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Multi-Society Task Force (MSTF). 

Beyond this, Dr. Shaukat has made major contributions to our understanding of the importance of high quality in the performance of colonoscopy and its relationship to the rate of interval cancers, by studying the relationship between adenoma detection rates and withdrawal time, and interval colon cancers. Again, her studies have contributed substantially to recommendations of quality metrics for colonoscopy developed by MSTF and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. Some of her most impressive work is her contribution to the understanding of the molecular and biologic understanding of cancers that occur in patients prior to the next recommended CRC screening examination (interval CRC). She was the first or senior author on a series of papers showing, for the first time, that the serrated pathway contributes disproportionately to interval CRCs. This important work suggested there may be a biologic contribution to the risk of interval CRC, a concept that has highlighted the importance of greater efforts to detect and completely remove proximal and serrated polyps. 

Dr. Shaukat was educated at Kinnaird College for Women, Punjab, Pakistan, in their pre-medical track and completed medical school at Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan. She went on to receive her Master of Public Health in international health and epidemiology at John’s Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD. She completed an internal medicine internship and residency at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and her gastroenterology fellowship at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. 

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