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Ferrante Wins Jo Rae Wright Award for Outstanding Science

May 20, 2023
by Serena Crawford

Lauren Ferrante, MD, MHS, assistant professor of medicine (pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine) has won the American Thoracic Society (ATS) Jo Rae Wright Award for Outstanding Science. She accepted the award on May 20, 2023, at the ATS International Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Jo Rae Wright Award recognizes demonstrated potential for significant achievement and contributions. The prize was created in honor of a former ATS president known for her commitment to advancing science and mentoring the next generation of scientists.

“I am humbled and honored to receive an award named after Jo Rae Wright,” Ferrante said. “And it means a lot to be recognized by the American Thoracic Society, my professional home as a pulmonary and critical care physician.”

Ferrante’s research focuses on understanding and improving the functional outcomes of older ICU patients. “Over the last two decades, we in critical care medicine have realized that we can’t only focus on improving outcomes inside the ICU,” she said. “We have to think about how to improve long-term post-ICU outcomes, especially patient-centered outcomes such as functional status.”

Helping these patients achieve functional recovery after being in the ICU is vital because older adults value maintaining their independence, she said.

Ferrante has become one of the leading physician investigators at the interface of critical care medicine and geriatrics, according to Thomas Gill, MD, Humana Foundation Professor of Medicine (Geriatrics) and professor of epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, and of investigative medicine at Yale School of Medicine (YSM). “Her completed, ongoing, and planned research has the potential to greatly improve the management and outcomes of older persons who sustain a critical illness,” he said.

Margaret Herridge, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, agrees. “Dr. Ferrante has been an exceptionally forward-thinking leader through her focus on precritical illness health trajectories as a major determinant of post-ICU outcomes,” she said. “With our ageing and increasingly comorbid patient population in critical care, her work has never been more relevant and impactful.”

Like the namesake of the award, Ferrante has also made an impact mentoring rising scientists. Even as a fellow and as a first-year faculty member, she offered guidance to trainees on their projects and careers. She enjoys seeing her mentees grow and succeed after they move on to new positions, she said.

“Through her outstanding research, compassionate clinical excellence, and prolifically effective mentoring, Dr. Ferrante embodies the ideals of the Jo Rae Wright Award,” said Erica Herzog, MD, PhD, John Slade Ely Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary) and professor of pathology at YSM, who received the Jo Rae Wright Award in 2015. “She is a credit to our profession, and I am proud to call her my colleague.”

Naftali Kaminski, MD, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary) and chief of Yale-PCCSM, notes that both Ferrante and Herzog thrived in the PCCSM fellowship program and distinguished themselves as outstanding researchers, dedicated mentors, and compassionate clinicians early on. “They are inspirational role models for their peers and colleagues,” he said. “They also exemplify the opportunities that the department and school provide to physician-scientists to express their talents to the fullest.”

This is Ferrante’s second ATS award. In 2022, she won the Assembly on Critical Care Early Career Achievement Award.

The other 2023 ATS award winners from Yale-PCCSM are Clemente Britto-Leon, MD, assistant professor of medicine, who received the Carol Basbaum Award from the Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology Assembly, and Katie McAvoy, MD, clinical fellow, who won the award for top abstract by the Innovation in Fellowship Education Working Group.

Previous ATS awards received by Yale-PCCSM faculty include the Assembly on Nursing Early Career Achievement Award, the Assembly on Pulmonary Infections and Tuberculosis Junior-level Peer Recognition Award, the Assembly on Pulmonary Infections and Tuberculosis Mid-career Recognition Award, the Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments, the Assembly on Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology Andy Tager Award for Excellence in Mentoring, the James Burns Amberson Lecturer, the Distinguished Achievement Award, the Assembly on Environmental, Occupational and Population Health John Peters Award, the Assembly on Pulmonary Rehabilitation Recognition Award, the Assembly on Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology Recognition of Early Academic Achievement Award, the Assembly on Clinical Problems Annual Educator Award, and the Thoracic Oncology Assembly Lifetime Achievement Award.

Submitted by Serena Crawford on May 18, 2023