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Liu Wins ASCI Emerging-Generation Award

May 08, 2023
by Serena Crawford

Elise Liu, MD, PhD, associate research scientist in medicine (immunology) and instructor in medicine (rheumatology), was selected for an American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) 2023 Emerging-Generation Award. One of 25 recipients to receive the honor, Liu was recognized at the AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting on April 22.

The award offers post-MD, pre-faculty appointment physician-scientists access to the Joint Meeting and two years of programming, with the intent of providing peer support and inspiration to help recipients stay on the path to becoming physician-scientist faculty.

“It's wonderful to be recognized at this early stage in my career,” Liu said. “And it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to connect with a cohort of awardees who are in the same boat—we’re all trying to obtain funding and advance our careers.”

Liu’s research focuses on the mechanisms of food allergy. She became interested in the subject when her first child, age one at the time, broke out with hives and vomited after eating peanuts. Liu was a student at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) at the time. “It was scary for a parent, as you can imagine,” she said.

It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to connect with a cohort of awardees who are in the same boat—we’re all trying to obtain funding and advance our careers.

Elise Liu, MD, PhD

The incident led Liu to meet with allergists and learn all she could. “I was surprised—and maybe disappointed—to find out that we don’t know much about why allergies develop and that there are limited options for treatment,” she said.

After earning her MD, Liu joined the lab of Stephanie Eisenbarth, MD, PhD, associate professor adjunct, to study immunology research in food allergy, as part of the Investigative Medicine Program, which provides individualized research training for physicians that leads to a PhD degree. Under the mentorship of Eisenbarth, Liu examined the role of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA) in food allergy, collaborating with researchers across the country to gather patient samples.

While Liu found that IgA does not play a protective role against food allergy, she continues to examine the antibody’s role in oral immunotherapy, in which small amounts of an allergen are fed to patients to build their tolerance of the food. Ultimately, Liu hopes to start her own research program.

“The ASCI Emerging-Generation Award definitely motivates me to go after the goal of becoming an independent physician-scientist,” she said.

The Section of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology is dedicated to providing care for patients with rheumatic, allergic, and immunologic disorders; educating future generations of thought leaders in the field; and conducting research into fundamental questions of autoimmunity and immunology. To learn more about their work, visit Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology.

Submitted by Serena Crawford on May 08, 2023