Ebinger and Xie Win Clinical Fellows Award

Finalists for the 2017 Cedars-Sinai Clinical Fellows Award (left to right): Richard Cheng, MD; Gaurav Syal, MD; Joseph Ebinger, MD; and Yu Xie, MD.

Joseph Ebinger, MD, and Yu Xie, MD, have a lot in common. Both are third-year cardiology fellows at Cedars-Sinai and serve as chief fellows. And on May 3, both won the 2017 Cedars-Sinai Clinical Fellows Award for Excellence in Research.

The annual award is designed to foster clinical and translational research and encourage the development of future clinical investigators, said Mariko Ishimori, MD, who welcomed attendees to the awards ceremony in the Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion. Ishimori, assistant professor of Medicine and interim director of the Division of Rheumatology, is the Cedars-Sinai site co-leader of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

A panel of Cedars-Sinai expert investigators chose Ebinger and Xie for the honor from among four finalists who delivered oral presentations on their research.

Ebinger's winning study was designed to improve the clinical outcomes and reduce the costs of cardiac care. He focused on percutaneous coronary intervention, also called coronary angioplasty, a procedure to improve blood flow to the heart. With an eye toward preventing bleeding — the procedure’s most common complication — Ebinger integrated a calculator into the electronic medical record of Cedars-Sinai patients who underwent the procedure, enabling physicians to project each patient's bleeding risk.

Flagging high-risk patients, Ebinger reasoned, would increase the use of bleeding-avoidance strategies, resulting in fewer bleeding events, lower mortality and lower costs. The study found this to be the case.

Ebinger pointed to these findings as an example of value-based care. "More and more, doctors are being looked to, not only for providing quality care, but also for providing care that is a good value," he said. Ebinger's mentors were Timothy Henry, MD, professor of Medicine and director of the Cedars-Sinai Division of Cardiology, and Teryl Nuckols, MD, MSHS, director of the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Medicine.

Xie, in her winning study, focused on heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction, a condition in which the heart pumps ineffectively. These patients face high mortality and hospital readmission rates, largely because current diagnostic tools cannot determine which patients have the weakest heart muscles. Xie's research tackled this void.

With the aim of developing a new cardiac biomarker for heart health, she collected blood from patients in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute's Heart Failure Program to assess if levels of cardiac BIN1, a protein that regulates the heart's ability to contract, were different in patients with reduced ejection fraction versus healthy volunteers.

Xie found that cardiac BIN1 levels were overall lower in the patients and, within the patient group, a low level of cardiac BIN1 predicted a heart-related hospitalization within the next 18 months. "Consequently, cardiac BIN1 can now be used to reliably predict which patients with reduced ejection fraction are at high risk for future hospitalization," Xie said. "This information can inform treatment plans, such as pursuing advanced therapies sooner."

Xie's mentor was Robin M. Shaw, MD, PhD, the Cedars-Sinai Wasserman Chair in Cardiology in honor of S. Rexford Kennamer, MD.

Each winner received a $3,000 cash prize funded by the Burns and Allen Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai and the Cedars-Sinai site of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

The two other award finalists were Richard Cheng, MD, who presented "Angiogenesis on Coronary Angiography Is a Marker for Accelerated Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy as Assessed by Intravascular Ultrasound: A Potential New Therapeutic Pathway," and Gaurav Syal, MD, who presented "Pharmacokinetic Effect of Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Agents on Thiopurine Drug Metabolism in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases."

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

The IRB number for human subjects in research referenced in this article is 32242.