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Whitney Besse, Irene Chernova, Receive ASCI Council Awards

March 29, 2022
by Jane E. Dee

Whitney Besse, MD, and Irene Chernova, MD, PhD, of the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) have been honored with 2022 awards from the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) Council. Besse is a Young Physician-Scientist Awardee while Chernova is as an Emerging-Generation Awardee.

Young Physician-Scientist

Each year, the ASCI Council honors up to 40 early-career physician-scientists who have made notable achievements in their research. Besse, assistant professor (nephrology), has identified six novel disease genes for patients diagnosed with polycystic kidney and liver disease, by examining a large cohort of patients with isolated polycystic liver disease (PCLD) and genetically unresolved autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). In a first-author manuscript in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, she identified through whole exome sequencing, mutations in four novel genes, (PKHD1, ALG8, GANAB, and SEC61B) that were found to cause PCLD. Her goal is to identify targets to develop treatments for her research participants.

“Dr. Besse is what I define as the “triple threat,” excelling at research, teaching, and clinical endeavors. I have known Whitney since her nephrology fellowship, where she has developed a valuable breadth of skills,” said Shuta Ishibe, MD, professor of medicine (nephrology) and director of nephrology’s research fellowship.

The Young Physician-Scientist Award provides a two-year experience that includes leadership development workshops, topical panel discussions with ASCI members, interaction with peer review groups, and virtual poster sessions. Awardees also participate in the Joint Meeting, an annual meeting of three organizations: The Association of American Physicians, The American Society for Clinical Investigation, and The American Physician-Scientists Association.

Besse’s biography as an ASCI Young Physician-Scientist can be read here.


The ASCI honored 22 recipients with its inaugural 2022 Emerging-Generation Award, which recognizes excellence in post-MD, pre-faculty appointment physician-scientists who are engaged in immersive research.

Yale School of Medicine recruited Chernova to the Department of Internal Medicine’s nephrology section in 2015 following her graduation from the University of Pennsylvania’s MD/PhD program, where she identified a paradigm-shifting concept regarding the longevity of the bone marrow plasma cell pool. Following her clinical training at YSM, Chernova joined the laboratory of Joseph Craft, MD, a preeminent lupus expert, to conduct lupus nephritis research. Craft is Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine (rheumatology) and Professor of Immunobiology.

“Chernova has been incredibly productive during her time in the lab, especially considering clinical responsibilities and disruptions due to the pandemic, and has a first-author manuscript that is in revision,” said Ishibe. “Irene has presented her work locally as well as at international meetings where it has been well-received.” Chernova has already obtained three fellowship grants, authored a perspective article in Cell Reports Medicine and co-authored a recent paper on B cell differentiation published in Immunity.

“Irene’s work on how lymphocytes survive the kidney’s high sodium environment is entirely novel, creative, and sophisticated. This will serve as the foundation for her independent career,” Ishibe added. “Her curious attitude toward science is quite infectious, and I have no doubt that she will be a future leader in our field.”

Chernova’s biography as an ASCI Emerging-Generation awardee can be read here.

The Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine is among the nation's premier departments, bringing together an elite group 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 29, 2022