Skip to Main Content

Perdigoto Wins 2021 Iva Dostanic Physician-Scientist Trainee Award

May 13, 2021
by Julie Parry

Ana Luisa Perdigoto, MD, PhD, instructor (endocrinology) has been named the 2021 Iva Dostanic, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist Trainee Award winner.

Perdigoto was notified of the award by email. “I checked my email and was so surprised,” she said. “I found Iva's story to be very moving and her love for science and medicine inspirational and I really want to convey just how honored and grateful I am to have received this award.”

The Iva Dostanic, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist Trainee Award and Lecture was established by the Department of Internal Medicine to recognize a physician-scientist trainee whose passion for the science of medicine, intelligence, creativity, work ethic, and accomplishments exemplify the best of medical research and the physician scientist, the qualities that Dostanic displayed.

In 2012, Perdigoto came to New Haven for her internship after earning her MD/PhD at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. When she interviewed at Yale School of Medicine (YSM), she thought that everyone was genuine and happy. “I liked the interactions that I saw, and felt that Yale would be a collaborative and supportive environment,” Perdigoto noted. “Since I came to Yale, I do feel that it is the place that I thought it would be.”

Perdigoto was interested in both endocrinology and oncology, and saw some unique patient cases during her residency which pulled her towards endocrinology. Interim section chief John Wysolmerski, MD, and Kevan Herold, MD, C.N.H. Long Professor of Immunobiology and Medicine, nominated Perdigoto for the honor and recalled recruiting her to the Section of Endocrinology & Metabolism in their nomination letter. “We were lucky to recruit Ana into the physician-scientist track of the medicine residency and she short-tracked into the endocrine section as a clinical fellow in 2014,” they wrote.

In 2016, Perdigoto joined Herold’s laboratory, and was supported by the JDRF Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship award. In March 2021, she was selected to receive a Yale Cancer Center K12 Calabresi Immuno-Oncology Training Program award. Her work is at the intersection of endocrinology and oncology, investigating the mechanisms of autoimmune diabetes by studying β cell responses to inflammation and checkpoint inhibition. She hopes to identify biomarkers and possible therapeutic targets of immunotherapy induced diabetes in patients undergoing cancer treatment with the goal of potentially preventing this complication as well as enhancing our understanding of spontaneous autoimmune diabetes.

Wysolmerski and Herold also shared her contributions in the lab as part of their nomination. “Dr. Perdigoto has established herself as an outstanding, physician-scientist with the talent to identify emerging clinical questions and answer them. She is equally highly skilled in clinical and laboratory approaches, and she effectively uses preclinical models to address clinical questions that cannot be answered in patients. Her seamless translational approach, combined with her training, intelligence, drive, and critical analysis of data are exactly the qualities that we celebrate as Iva Dostanic’s legacy. We predict that Ana will become a leader in the field of Endocrinology,” they wrote.

In the future, Perdigoto hopes to continue her research in diabetes and immunotherapies and also wants to understand other endocrine immunotherapy complications, such as pituitary and thyroid dysfunctions.

“I am so grateful for the supportive and collaborative environment at Yale and the mentorship that I have received here has meant so much to me,” said Perdigoto.

Perdigoto is the tenth recipient of the award, which was created in memory of Dostanic, who was an exceptionally talented physician-scientist at YSM. Dostanic was accepted into the Internal Medicine Physician – Scientist Pathway, but delayed her residency after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2011. While undergoing treatment, Dostanic became a research fellow in the Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Sleep Medicine. Unfortunately, Dostanic’s cancer returned. Before she died, she received the inaugural Iva Dostanic, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist Trainee Award in a ceremony held in her room at Yale New Haven Hospital. The award was created to celebrate Dostanic’s intelligence, creativity, work ethic, and passion, said Peter Aronson, MD, C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and professor of cellular and molecular physiology. In December 2011, less than a week after receiving the award, she passed away.

In combination with the award, honorees present at the Department of Internal Medicine’s Medical Grand Rounds. Perdigoto and 2020 award winner Rupak Datta, MD/PhD, MPH, instructor (infectious diseases) will both present at the June 24, 2021 Medical Grand Rounds. Datta’s presentation was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yale’s Section of Endocrinology & Metabolism works to improve the health of individuals with endocrine and metabolic diseases by advancing scientific knowledge; applying new information to patient care; and training the next generation of physicians and scientists to become leaders in the field. To learn more about their work, visit Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Submitted by Julie Parry on May 10, 2021