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Children’s Hospital/Pitt Leader Receives Prestigious Award for Lifelong Contributions to Pediatric Gastroenterology

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 1, 2011 David H. Perlmutter, M.D., scientific director and physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the Vira I. Heinz Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has received the 2011 Shwachman Award from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN).

The Shwachman Award is given annually by NASPGHAN to an individual who has made major, lifelong scientific or educational contributions to the field of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology or nutrition in North America. Dr. Perlmutter received the award during NASPGHAN’s annual meeting earlier this month.

“Dr. Perlmutter has influenced the course of pediatric gastroenterology through his science, his leadership, and through his considerable effort as an advocate for research in childhood liver disease. He has made important contributions to the next generation of pediatric gastroenterologists, both directly through fellow education and indirectly as a role model for physician-scientists. Many of those touched by Dr. Perlmutter have made significant contributions to the field of pediatric gastroenterology,” NASPGHAN noted.

Dr. Perlmutter earned his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine and trained in pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Children’s Hospital Boston.

After several years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Perlmutter joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. From 1992 to 2001, he was the director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at St. Louis Children’s, and in 1996 became the first to hold the Donald Strominger Endowed Professorship of Washington University School of Medicine. In 2001 he left St. Louis for his current position in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Perlmutter has made significant contributions in both clinical and basic science research of pediatric liver disease. He has carried out basic research on alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency for more than 20 years. His work has led to many new concepts about the pathobiology of liver disease in this deficiency and has suggested several new concepts for chemoprophylaxis of chronic liver injury, hepatocellular carcinoma and emphysema in this genetic disease. He is the principal investigator of three National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grants in this area and also now holds four other NIH grants, including the Child Health Research Center of Excellence Award for training pediatric physician-scientists in the molecular basis of pediatric disease.

Recently, Dr. Perlmutter’s lab demonstrated that carbamazepine promotes the degradation of mutant alpha-1-antitrypsin in liver cells and reverses hepatic fibrosis in a mouse model of the disease. His work has profound implications for therapy in children with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency as well as for children with other disorders of the liver, NASPGHAN noted.

Dr. Perlmutter’s research has been widely recognized and has earned him many awards, including the AGA/Industry Research Scholar Award, the RJR Nabisco Research Scholars Award, the American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Scholar in Experimental Therapeutics Award, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics, and the Andrew Sass-Kortsak Award for Pediatric Liver Research.

Dr. Perlmutter is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians. He has served as the president of the Society of Pediatric Research and is now a member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and of the Scientific Advisory Council for the March of Dimes Foundation. He also is a member of numerous other advisory boards, foundation boards and editorial boards. Since joining Children’s Hospital in 2001, Dr. Perlmutter has led an effort to expand the hospital’s basic and clinical research program so that it is ideally poised to investigate the molecular basis of disease and to develop innovative therapies. Children’s Hospital is now one of the fastest growing pediatric research programs in the country in terms of NIH funding.

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