Kroener and Lange Win Clinical Fellows Award

Cedars-Sinai leaders with finalists for the 2016 Clinical Fellows Award for Excellence in Research (left to right): Leon Fine, MD, vice dean of Research and Graduate Research Education and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences; Mariko Ishimori, MD, associate site director for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute; finalists David Lange, MD, Lindsay Kroener, MD, Angelica Nangit, MD, and Snehalkumar Patel, MD; and Shlomo Melmed, MB ChB, executive vice president, Academic Affairs, and dean of the medical faculty.

Two physicians striving to solve medical conundrums at opposite ends of the human lifespan have won this year's Cedars-Sinai Clinical Fellows Award for Excellence in Research. The award, which carries a $3,000 prize, is designed to encourage clinical and laboratory-based translational research by clinical fellows.

In her winning study, Lindsay Kroener, MD, discovered a new role for the so-called GATA3 protein, which was already known to be crucial in the placenta's development during pregnancy. She demonstrated that GATA3 also helps the embryo attach to the uterus, a process known as placentation, during pregnancy and that this protein is regulated by the female hormone estrogen.

Kroener's discovery is important because it may help explain why pregnancies that result from in vitro fertilization have higher rates of problems linked to abnormal placentation. These problems include low birth weight and preeclampsia, a serious hypertensive condition in pregnancy that often leads to preterm delivery and can trigger convulsions in the mother if untreated. Kroener found that fresh cycles of in vitro fertilization changed the hormonal environment of the uterus, negatively affecting GATA3.

The other Clinical Fellows Award winner, David Lange, MD, focused on a medical crisis that tends to occur late in life: heart attack. He studied the emergency dispatch of specialists to Cedars-Sinai to treat a type of heart attack known as STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction), which can happen when a coronary artery is entirely blocked. The specialists' goal is to administer life-saving coronary angioplasty to restore blood flow within 90 minutes.

In reviewing more than 1,300 STEMI dispatches, Lange found that nearly two-thirds of them were so-called "false activations," in which the patient was not actually suffering from a STEMI The most common source of the error was an electrocardiogram, the initial diagnostic test for STEMI, which Lange described as an "imperfect tool." On an electrocardiogram, a variety of heart conditions can mimic STEMI, he explained.

Lange is a member of the Cedars-Sinai Clinical Scholars Program, and the foundation work for his project was supported by the Eigler-Whiting-Mann Grant from that program.

Kroener and Lange, along with two other award finalists, presented their abstracts April 27 to an audience and a panel of Cedars-Sinai researchers in Harvey Morse Auditorium, who chose the winners. The other finalists were Angelica Nangit, MD, who presented "Causes and Predictors of Thirty Day Hospital Readmissions in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus," and Snehalkumar Patel, MD, who presented "Next Generation Sequencing: A Novel Approach to Distinguish Multifocal Primary Lung Adenocarcinomas from Intrapulmonary Metastases."

The awards program, established in 2012, is supported by the Cedars-Sinai site of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which includes three other partner institutions. Eighteen fellows applied for the award.

"We noticed a lot of high-quality applications this year and hope to continue the trend in the coming year," said Mariko Ishimori, MD, the associate CTSI site director and an assistant professor of medicine." Our finalists were chosen from a very competitive pool. We hope this award program encourages fellows in training to consider research careers."