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The Association of American Physicians (AAP) and the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) each elected three faculty members at the Yale School of Medicine. AAP’s goals include the pursuit of medical knowledge and advancement through experimentation and discovery of basic research and clinical science and its application to clinical medicine. The ASCI is dedicated to advancing research that will expand our understanding and improve the treatment of diseases for all people. Members strive to care for future generations of doctors and scientists from diverse backgrounds and biomedical disciplines. The two organizations practically hold a joint annual meeting with the American Physician Scientists Association, which advocates for trainees in this field.
AAP announced the election of:
· · Gary V. Desir, MD, Chair of Internal Medicine, Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine and Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity. His major scientific contributions include the discovery of a specific voltage-gated potassium channel that regulates body weight and insulin sensitivity, as well as the identification and characterization of a new enzyme he termed renalase. Renalase metabolizes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and is involved in the regulation of cell metabolism. Its secreted form binds to a specific receptor and activates intracellular signals that promote the survival of cells and organs. In the event of dysregulation, kidneyase activity and signal transmission can also promote the development of certain types of cancer. His laboratory is now focused on developing therapeutics that modulate the renal nasal pathway.
· · David A. Hafler, MD, Chairman and William S. and Lois Stiles Edgerly Professor of Neurology and Professor of Immunobiology. His achievements include the identification of human autoreactive T cells, which uncover the molecular mechanism for self-antigen recognition. the identification of human regulatory T cells that provide the first evidence of their dysfunction in autoimmune diseases; and demonstration of the role of sodium chloride in induction induction autoimmunity. Hafler also performed one of the first identifications of genetic variants in autoimmune diseases and then showed that these causal variants occur near binding sites for major regulators of immune differentiation. He recently studied the T-cell condition of the healthy human central nervous system (CNS) and identified a novel mechanism for the CNS’s immune privilege.
· · Albert Ko, MD, Chair of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases and Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine. Examples of his contributions are his work on leptospirosis, which identified this rat-borne disease as the cause of epidemics in urban slump populations. He was the first to genetically manipulate this Leptospira Pathogens and identify virulence factors, which has led to licensed rapid diagnostic and vaccine and therapy candidates. He has described the processes of climate, degraded environment and social marginalization that drive the transmission of leptospirosis, Zika and dengue fever and, in turn, has led public health prevention of these emerging infections in developing countries. He was also a key advisor to the Connecticut Governor on the state’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ASCI has chosen:
· · Joseph N. Contessa, MD, PhD, Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Pharmacology and Deputy Chair for Basic Research in Therapeutic Radiology. Contessa directs Yale Medicine’s central nervous system radiology program. He specializes in the treatment of patients with primary tumors of the brain, head and neck as well as the base of the skull. He is part of a team of doctors and scientists who are actively researching the cellular mechanisms by which tumors circumvent or outsmart standard cancer therapies in order to identify new treatment approaches.
· · Peggy Myung, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pathology. Her research program focuses on elucidating the tissue-tissue interactions that promote the formation and regeneration of skin hair follicles, and on understanding how these same mechanisms intersect with disease states, including skin cancer. By coupling genetic mouse models with live imaging and genomic approaches, she discovered some of the essential roles that the Wnt / beta-catenin signal plays in both embryonic hair follicle development and adult hair follicle regeneration.
· · Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of Translational Research in Psychiatry. He leads the research path within psychiatry. His research, both with patients and in animal models, aims to elucidate the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and other conditions characterized by poorly adapting repetitive behavior and thought patterns, and to use these findings to create new somatic ones and develop psychological treatments.