Shelly C. Lu, MD, director of the Karsh Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the Department of Medicine, professor of Medicine and the Women's Guild Chair in Gastroenterology, has won the 2021 Cedars-Sinai Prize for Research in Scientific Medicine (PRISM).
The annual award recognizes a scientific breakthrough or critical medical insight made within the past five years by a Cedars-Sinai faculty member.
David Underhill, PhD, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the Janis and William Wetsman Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, presented the award Thursday, Oct. 21, during the 2021 Commencement of the Cedars‑Sinai Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
The PRISM certificate cited Lu for "her translational studies revealing novel molecular mechanisms contributing to liver disease and the implications of the work for innovative approaches to therapy for fatty liver disease and cancer."
Lu is a physician-scientist with an internationally recognized research program focusing on molecular mechanisms of fatty liver, liver injury and liver cancer.
She was recognized with the PRISM award for her work on the enzyme methionine adenosyltransferase 1A (MAT1A) and her discovery that MAT1A is unexpectedly a transcriptional repressor for the transcription factors c-Myc and FOXM1 in the prevention of liver cancer development. She also found that MAT1A binds to and regulates the protein cytochrome P450 2E1 (CyP2E1) in mitochondria, contributing to the prevention of alcoholic liver disease. These findings have been reported in several manuscripts over the last five years in the field’s top journals, and her work has led to a novel clinical trial for patients with alcohol-associated liver disease.
"The work of Dr. Lu is emblematic of Cedars-Sinai's commitment to pursuing leading-edge research and applying the findings to improve the lives of patients everywhere," said Underhill, who won the PRISM award last year.
Lu is firmly rooted in Los Angeles. She received her bachelor’s degree and MD from UCLA, and then completed her internship and residency at Cedars-Sinai. Following a fellowship, she ultimately become director of the Section of Hepatobiliary Disease and Medical Director of Biliary Lithotripsy at Cedars-Sinai.
Lu then joined the University of Southern California (USC), where she moved through the ranks from assistant professor to tenured professor to associate chief of the Division of GI and Liver Diseases at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She later returned to Cedars-Sinai to become the director of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, which has, under her leadership, become the Karsh Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She also serves as vice chair of Basic Science and Translational Research in the Department of Medicine.
Lu has received numerous honors, including the AGA Outstanding Women in Science Award and the Mayo Soley Award for lifetime achievement in science and mentoring. She has been inducted into honorary societies for physician-scientists, including the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP). Lu has authored more than 250 manuscripts and has had uninterrupted funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1992.
The PRISM award, established in 2015, was introduced by Leon Fine, MD, emeritus chair of Biomedical Sciences, professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and director of the Program in the History of Medicine. The award is based on faculty nominations and a decision by external experts. Winners receive a monetary prize and a commemorative medal.
Previous recipients include Paul W. Noble, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, professor of Medicine, director of the Women's Guild Lung Institute and the Vera and Paul Guerin Family Distinguished Chair in Pulmonary Medicine; the late Ronald G. Victor, MD, professor of Medicine and associate director of the Smidt Heart Institute; Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, professor of Neurosurgery and the Board of Governors Chair in Neurosciences; Robert H. Baloh, MD, PhD, director of Neuromuscular Medicine and professor of Neurology; and Stanley C. Jordan, MD, professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Nephrology.