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Young Clinician Awards Recipients
The following responses come from recent recipients of the Johnson & Johnson Young Clinician Awards. Included is a brief overview of their work, and their responses to the value of the awards.
James Ellsmere, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is working on a novel device to effectively manage care of patients after gastric bypass surgery.
Dr. Ellsmere said his research interest is developing devices that improve gastrointestinal care. “Unlike basic science and clinical validation of existing medical devices and drugs, there are limited funding mechanisms for pursuing device development aside from private equity. With J & J funds, my colleague Dr. Wells and I were able to explore a device concept in the lab and develop it to the point that we have a functioning prototype and we have filed a patent application. I feel this device has a definite potential to improve the care of patients with implanted ports, whether this is morbidly obese patients with lap bands or cancer patients with difficult-to-access intravenous ports.
Dr. Ellsmere added, “The tendency for junior surgery faculty is to become heavily loaded with clinical care responsibilities, and put their research interests on a back burner. A mentor of mine recently reinforced this when he said, if you cannot make time for research in your first three years of practice, you probably never well. The J & J funding enabled me to set aside time to focus on device development, and I look forward to several future projects building on the success of the past 12 months.”
Yolonda Colson, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, received a “special study” award as part of the J & J program. She is working to create a local drug delivery device for lung cancer patients that could minimize surgical resection of normal lung tissue, and possibly prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer.
Dr. Colson said that the program enabled her to hire a lab assistant and begin gathering data that could be used in obtaining other grants. She said that just the recognition that she had earned the prestigious award gave her added standing in the medical center, and in her grant applications.
“This was a great award for me and those I work with, because it validated our idea and enabled us to pursue our research. It is not easy to get financial support for early-stage devices and just knowing we had obtained an award to get us started was a great achievement. With data and experience from this year, we are in a much better position to apply for grants in the future.”
Audrey Chung Marshall, MD, Children’s Hospital Boston, is focusing on developing a positioning device to enable minimally invasive, in utero, cardiac intervention for babies with congenital heart disease.
Dr. Marshall said that fetal intervention is going to be one of the defining contributions of her career. She said that since 80 percent of her time is spent in patient care, the grant enabled her to pursue research in those hours when she wasn’t interacting with youngsters and their parents. “The J & J grant has given me the resources to make it easy to pursue the ideas that I’ve had, in a very exploratory way. Because I am usually with patients, the grant has given me flexibility in terms of time and budget. And the J & J grant validated my concept of a fetal positioning tool, and made it easier to find collaborators and attract others to pursue this with me.”
Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, is developing controlled release technology to prevent problems caused by breathing tubes in premature babies.
Dr. Kohane said that the J & J award made funds available for his research that otherwise would not have been available. He said, “We have been able to adapt a hydrogel system to the device of interest. I hope my career will be aided by this grant. The proof will be in whether I will be able to secure NIH funding with data obtained with this grant.”
Michael Davidson, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is working on percutaneous repair of damaged heart valves, without the need for open-heart surgery.
Dr. Davidson, a cardiac surgeon, has been focusing on valve repair and replacement techniques that can be done using a catheter approach. He says the availability of catheter-based heart valve repair and replacement will allow more patients to choose a less invasive operation.
Dr. Davidson said one of the values of the J & J program was that it enabled him to work with other doctors so he could learn from their experience. The grant enabled him to extend a cross-training program in which he was participating, and mentor other cardiac surgical trainers. He said the J&J award has enabled him to learn more about solving the challenges of heart-valve repair, and to pass that knowledge on to others.
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