2012 YCCI Scholars Span Disciplines Across the Medical Campus

The 14 investigators selected as YCCI’s 2012 Scholars comprise one of the largest groups to receive this award since the program was established in 2006.

The Scholars program provides salary, research support and training for junior faculty members who are strongly committed to careers in clinical or translational research. Since its inception, the program has nurtured the careers of 77 investigators (including this year’s awardees) in departments and schools across the medical campus. Since receiving their awards, Scholars from past years have published more than 500 papers and collaborated with colleagues both nationally and internationally. As a group they have received a total of 47 R awards and more than $92 million in funding.

This year’s awardees were chosen from a diverse group of applicants from 18 different departments and schools. “Every year we receive high quality proposals covering a broad array of areas of research,” said Eugene Shapiro, M.D., professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and YCCI’s co-director for education. “This year we received over 50 applications, more than ever before.”

Rules to the K program have changed, offering the ability to appoint more Scholars through cost-sharing with various departments. This has afforded the opportunity to appoint the largest group of trainees since 2006.

“Educating the next generation of clinical and translational researchers has always been one of our highest priorities,” said YCCI Director Robert Sherwin, M.D., C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine. “I’m gratified that the Scholars program has been so well-received and proud that it has attracted such promising researchers.”

This year’s Scholars are pursuing clinical and translational research projects range from utilizing the School of Medicine’s state-of-the art Core resources to developing and testing innovative therapies. They include: 

  • William Gee Chang, MD, PhD, clinical instructor in nephrology (as of 7/1), is working on an approach to develop microvessels as a first step in engineering a functional kidney to treat end stage renal disease.

  • Philip Corlett, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, is working on a cognitive and neurobiological intervention involving transcranial magnetic stimulation to reduce the severity of delusions in patients with severe mental illness.

  • Adife Gulhan Ercan-Sencicek, PhD, associate research scientist in the Child Study Center, is conducting genomic analyses of families with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability to map the susceptibility genes for these diseases.

  • Irina Esterlis, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry is using PET imaging to study the effect of ketamine on the glutamatergic system in the brain in order to understand its anti-depressive mechanism.

  • Edward Faustino, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics (critical care), is working on a study to identify critically ill children at highest risk of developing central venous catheter-related deep vein thrombosis who can be targeted for thromboprophylaxis to prevent the condition and its complications.

  • Andrew Goodman, PhD, assistant professor of microbial pathogenesis, is using a novel approach to measure the connections between differences in microbial composition in the gastrointestinal tract and the metabolism of drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis.

  • Daniel Greif, MD, assistant professor of medicine (cardiology), is working on a project to elucidate the origin of the excessive pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells and the mechanisms underlying their recruitment, proliferation and differentiation in IL-6-induced pulmonary hypertension.

  • In-Hyun Park, PhD, assistant professor of genetics, is working with hematopoietic stem cells and microglia to examine the function of the mutated protein that causes Rett syndrome in an effort to develop a novel and therapeutic intervention.

  • Nicola Santoro, MD, PhD, associate research scientist in pediatrics (endocrinology), is conducting an interventional study to determine if individuals’ genetic background interacts with nutrients to convey susceptibility to Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in children.

  • Frederick Shic, PhD, assistant professor in the Child Study Center and of computer science, is conducting research using  adaptive, gaze-contingent, eye-tracking technology to help toddlers with autism spectrum disorders learn to allocate their attention to people and their actions in a more typical fashion.

  • Emily Wang, MD, MAS, assistant professor of medicine (general medicine), is studying the impact of incarceration on control of cardiovascular risk factors in order to identify potential mediators of this relationship.

  • Zuoheng Wang, PhD, assistant professor of public health (biostatistics), is designing  powerful and robust statistical and computational methods for next-generation sequencing data to address sequencing error, rare variants and population structure.

  • Julie Womack, MA, MSN, PhD, assistant professor, Yale School of Nursing, is studying falls among the aging HIV infected population, using qualitative and quantitative methods to explore risks and barriers/facilitators to prevention.

  • James Yu, MD, assistant professor of therapeutic radiology, is investigating the use of stereotactic radiosurgery to treat elderly patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer.