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University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine Researchers Receive Awards At American Transplant Congress​

PITTSBURGH, May 17, 2004 Two University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine  faculty have received two of three Clinical Science Achievement Awards at the American Transplant Congress, the joint scientific sessions of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. The American Transplant Congress runs through May 19 and is being held at the John B. Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Yesterday, the American Society of Transplantation (AST) bestowed the Fujisawa Clinical Science Achievement Award to Steven A. Webber, MBChB, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and medical director of Heart and Heart/Lung Transplantation at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh. Rakesh Sindhi, M.D., FACS, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of Pediatric Transplantation Research at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, received the Wyeth Clinical Science Achievement Award.

Only three clinical science and three basic science achievement awards are given by the AST each year.

The Fujisawa Clinical Science Achievement Award honors an investigator at the associate professor level who has made substantial contributions to the field of transplantation. It carries a $25,000 award, which Dr. Webber will use to support his research programs in pediatric heart transplantation. This year, Dr. Webber received a $14.2 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to develop novel approaches that seek to improve the outcomes of pediatric heart transplant recipients. Dr. Webber is vice president and president-elect of the International Pediatric Transplant Association and was named last month to the board of directors of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

The Wyeth Clinical Science Achievement Award honors an investigator at the assistant professor level who has made significant contributions to the field of transplantation. At the time of his nomination, Dr. Sindhi was an assistant professor; he has since been promoted to associate professor. It too carries a $25,000 award, which Dr. Sindhi plans to use to support his research focused on the development of immunological biomarkers in children. Such research will help better understand the effects of anti-rejection drugs on children and help identify patients who may either be prone to rejection or who may be able to be successfully weaned off all drugs. The work stems from an ongoing National Institutes of Health-funded study for which he is principal investigator. A pediatric liver transplant surgeon at the University of Pittsburghs Starzl Transplantation Institute and Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dr. Sindhi was recently elected a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

In addition to Drs. Webber and Sindhi, three researchers from the Starzl Transplantation Institute received Young Investigator Awards. Such awards are given to those under the age of 40 who submit a scientific abstract judged to be among the very best. The award provides the recipient with $1,000 to help defray the costs of attending the meeting.

Cheng-Hsu Chen, M.D., won for his abstract Prevention of Islet Allograft Rejection by Co-Transplant with Activated Hepatic Stellate Cells without Systemic Immunosuppression. Dr. Chen is a research fellow working under the tutelage of Shiguang Qian, M.D., and Lina Lu, M.D.

An De Creus, Ph.D., a research associate working in the laboratory of Angus Thomson, Ph.D., D.Sc., was recognized for her abstract Low Toll-Like Receptor 4 Expression on Liver Dendritic Cells Correlates with Reduced Capacity to Activate Allogeneic T cells in Response to Endotoxin.

Yuk Yuen Lan, a pre-doctoral researcher who also works in Dr. Thomsons lab, won for her abstract The Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptor Agonist FTY720 Regulates Dendritic Cell Trafficking by Modulation of Adhesion Molecule Expression.

The University of Pittsburgh has one of the biggest showings at ATC with 59 oral or poster presentations being made.

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