Darouian and Nayyar Win 2016 Rubenstein Prize

Marzieh Salehi, MD, director of the Clinical and Translational Research Center, is flanked by Rubenstein Prize winners Piyush Nayyar, MD (l.), and Navid Darouian, MD.

Two published studies on life-threatening cardiac emergencies have won the 2016 Paul Rubenstein, MD Prize for Excellence in Resident Research. The research by Navid Darouian, MD, and Piyush Nayyar, MD, presented May 17 in Harvey Morse Auditorium, may one day help doctors more effectively predict and treat these disorders.

Named for Cedars-Sinai's first director of medical education, the $3,000 annual prize recognizes outstanding research conducted by the institution's medical residents.

Darouian, a resident in the laboratory of Sumeet Chugh, MD, associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, studied how to predict an individual's risk for suffering sudden cardiac arrest, a type of heart attack caused by defective electrical activity of the heart. The condition, which usually causes immediate death, kills more than 300,000 people in the U.S. each year.

The researchers found that one of the measurements of cardiac electrical activity taken by an electrocardiogram, the common diagnostic tool, provided a strong indicator of who might be likely to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest in the future. That measurement, intrinsicoid deflection, normally is used to diagnose other heart conditions. Darouian was the first author, and Chugh, professor of Medicine and the Pauline and Harold Price Chair in Cardiac Electrophysiology Research, was the principal investigator for the study, published in April in the journal Heart Rhythm.

Nayyar, a resident working with Timothy Henry, MD, director of Cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, studied treatments for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, a type of heart attack that may occur when a coronary artery is entirely blocked. Emergency doctors can save these patients' lives by quickly performing coronary angioplasty to open the artery. They also administer drugs, known as P2Y12 inhibitors, to prevent blood clots, a potential complication of the procedure.

The researchers set out to discover which types of P2Y12 inhibitors might be the most safe and effective in these emergency patients, based on analyzing 37 studies involving more that 88,000 individuals. The data indicated that the drugs prasugrel and ticagrelor overall produced better clinical outcomes than clopidogrel. Nayyar was co-investigator and Henry, professor of Medicine and the Lee and Harold Kapelovitz Chair in Research Cardiology, was the principal investigator and senior author for the study, published this month in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Darouian and Nayyar were among four award finalists who presented their abstracts to the Rubenstein Award Committee. The other finalists were Wendy Kadi, DO, presenting "NGS Identifies Distinct Clonal Patterns in Synchronous and Metachronous Lung Adenocarcinomas," and Parham Zarrini, MD, presenting "AntiThymocyte Globulin Protects against Ischemia Reperfusion Injury in the Immediate Post Heart Transplant Period."

The finalists were chosen from 18 applicants. Competition was intense, and "we had a hard time selecting finalists," said Marzieh Salehi, MD, director of the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC), who chaired the award committee. The award is sponsored by the Burns and Allen Research Institute and the CTRC, a partner in the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.