Brower, Cheng Win Clinical Fellows Award

Clinical Fellows Award finalists (l. to r.) Tarun Chakravarty, MD, Richard Cheng, MD, Meredith Brower, MD, and Artak Labadzhyan, MD, with Leslie J. Raffel, MD, (center), Cedars-Sinai site director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Meredith Brower, MD, and Richard Cheng, MD, won the 2015 Cedars-Sinai Clinical Fellows Award for Excellence in Research at a ceremony April 22 in Harvey Morse Auditorium. Each received a $3,000 cash prize.

The award, established in 2012, fosters and recognizes research conducted by fellows undergoing clinical training at the medical center.

Brower and Cheng were chosen from among four finalists who had given oral presentations before an expert panel. The other finalists were Tarun Chakravarty, MD, and Artak Labadzhyan, MD. The finalists' presentations were judged by a committee of Cedars-Sinai basic and clinical researchers from a broad range of areas.

"We were thrilled to have received more than a dozen submissions this year. All four finalists are winners," said Leslie J. Raffel, MD, Cedars-Sinai professor of Pediatrics and site director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Meredith Brower, MD

Brower's winning presentation focused on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a set of symptoms caused by a hormone imbalance in women. She found that genetic susceptibility for this syndrome appears to be shared across different races and that the molecular underpinnings predisposing a woman to PCOS may be different in obese versus lean women. Her talk was titled "Investigation of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Susceptibility Loci Reveals Shared Genetic Risk Across Populations and Identifies Mechanisms of Disease Heterogeneity."

Brower's mentor was Mark O. Goodarzi, MD, PhD, professor of Medicine and director of the Cedars-Sinai Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and the Endocrine Genetics Laboratory.

Richard Cheng, MD

Cheng's research, "Coronary Plaque Progression by Intravascular Ultrasound is Decreased in Patients Induced with Anti-Thymocyte Globulin at Time of Cardiac Transplant," focused on heart-failure patients in the U.S. who required heart transplants. Cheng explored whether the use of medication designed to prevent a patient's immune system from attacking the new heart at the time of transplantation affected an accelerated form of coronary artery disease, known as cardiac allograft vasculopathy. He found dramatically decreased plaque progression among patients who received antithymocyte globulin, an immune-suppressing medication.

Cheng was mentored by Babak Azarbal, MD, associate program director of postgraduate education in Interventional Cardiology, and Jon Kobashigawa, MD, associate director of Clinical Affairs at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and director of Advanced Heart Disease and the Heart Transplant Program.

Finalist Chakravarty, who also won the award in 2013 and 2014, was mentored by Rajendra (Raj) Makkar, MD, director of the Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai. Labadzhyan was mentored by Goodarzi.

"Given that Clinical Fellows have substantial patient-care responsibilities, it was truly impressive to see the quality of research that they were able to accomplish," said Raffel.

For more information about the Clinical Fellows Award, contact Jonathan Hackmeyer, CTSI management assistant, at 310-423-8965.