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Goldman-Israelow, Shung are 2022 Iva Dostanic Award Recipients

March 16, 2022
by Jane E. Dee

For the recipients of the 2022 Iva Dostanic Physician-Scientist Trainee Award, patient care guides their scientific studies.

Dennis Shung, MD, MHS, associate research scientist (digestive diseases), uses machine learning to identify patients most at risk from gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. “How can we increase the time available for doctors to spend with patients? How can we make sure that providers are equipped to make the best decisions possible for their patients?” Shung said. “Machine learning tools can be used to improve the patient experience and enhance the hands-on presence of providers.”

Benjamin Goldman-Israelow, MD, PhD, instructor and ABIM Physician-Scientist Research Pathway resident, arrived at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) with a background in molecular virology. Caring for patients leads him to the scientific inquiries that can provide a better understanding of viruses, such as how they cause disease, and how scientists can create cures and vaccines to treat them. “I’m driven by my patients to understand the science,” Goldman-Israelow said.

YSM’s Department of Internal Medicine established the Iva Dostanic, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist Trainee Award and Lecture in 2011 to recognize trainees who have a passion for science as well as clinical care, qualities exemplified by Dostanic, for whom the award is named.

Dostanic, a physician-scientist trainee at Yale School of Medicine (YSM), was accepted into the ABIM Physician-Scientist Research Pathway but delayed her training after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While undergoing treatment, Dostanic was a research fellow in the Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine (Yale-PCCSM), but unfortunately, her cancer returned. She died in December 2011, less than a week after receiving the first Iva Dostanic, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist Trainee Award.

Since her death, Dostanic’s parents, Dragana and Predrag Dostanic, have dedicated their lives to supporting physician-scientist trainees in the internal medicine department. (See the article, “A gift to the place their daughter loved,” in Related Materials.)

“It’s inspirational to see Iva’s legacy live on through the talented young people receiving this award in her name,” said Peter S. Aronson, MD, C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and professor of cellular and molecular physiology, who oversees the award for YSM.

Shung arrived at YSM as an intern, and completed his internal medicine residency before joining the digestive diseases’ GI program as a fellow in 2017. In his first year as a fellow, he completed a systematic review on machine learning in GI bleeding, presenting his review at an international meeting in 2018 where it was designated a poster of distinction. He later developed a machine-learning model that was available to clinicians anywhere in the world so that they could use it to identify high-risk patients with GI bleeding. Shung’s manuscript for this study was published in Gastroenterology, the highest impact journal in the field.

“He will lead the next generation of researchers, using new and better techniques to advance the field,” said Digestive Diseases Chief Loren Laine, MD, in his letter nominating Shung for the Dostanic Award.

Goldman-Israelow came to Yale School of Medicine as an intern in 2016 after receiving a PhD from Mount Sinai, where his focus was on Hepatitis C. At Yale he was interested in gaining a better understanding of immunology while he continued research into the interactions between viruses and the immune system. In January 2020, as the virus that causes COVID-19 emerged, Goldman-Israelow developed university-wide protocols for pursuing SARS-CoV-2 research and developed a mouse model for studying COVID-19, one of the first reports of this type of model for SARS-CoV-2.

“Our studies of COVID-19 patient immune dysfunction would not have been possible without Ben’s expert ability to ‘translate’ between the clinical aspects of COVID-19 and our research,” said Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, a Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology.

Erol Fikrig, MD, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine and chief, infectious diseases, noted that Goldman-Israelow’s “accomplishments and passion for medicine and research make him an outstanding candidate who epitomizes the ideal represented by the Iva Dostanic Award.”

Shung and Goldman-Israelow will receive their awards, and give talks about their research, at the Department of Internal Medicine’s Medical Grand Rounds on June 23rd.

The Department of Internal Medicine at Yale is among the nation's premier departments, bringing together an elite cadre of clinicians, investigators and educators in one of the world's top medical schools. To learn more, visit Internal Medicine.

Submitted by Jane E. Dee on March 16, 2022