2010 TTS-Astellas Young Investigator Awards
Ten TTS-Astellas Young Investigator Awards were presented to TTS members with the highest scoring abstracts during the Vancouver Congress. TTS will be profiling the award winners throughout the year in Tribune.
Luiz Lisboa’s thesis work investigates the human and viral microRNAs during Cytomegalovirus infection in transplantation. His winning abstract, In vivo viral microRNA profiling in a large cohort of transplant patients with CMV disease, pointed out the potential of one of the virus-produced microRNAs as a biomarker on prediction of the risk of recurrent CMV viremia after treatment of CMV disease in organ recipients. His work on target discovery for this virus and other human microRNAs, as well on characterizing patterns of microRNA expression associated with CMV infection endpoints, is ongoing and expanding towards the use of siRNA targeting microRNAs as therapy for CMV in vitro and in animal models.
Luiz Lisboa was born in Brazil, where he studied at the University of Sao Paulo from medical school to medical residency in infectious diseases. In 2008, he started the Transplant Infectious Diseases Clinical Fellowship Program at University of Alberta, Canada. Currently he is a PhD student at U of A, under the supervision of Dr. Atul Humar and co-supervision of Dr. Deepali Kumar.
Cheguevara Afaneh’s work focuses on human renal allograft recipients and their urinary cell gene expression patterns. He won a Young Investigator Award for his abstract entitled Differential regulation of positive or negative costimulatory molecules during acute rejection of human renal allografts. He found that urinary cell mRNA levels for OX40 differentiate patients with acute rejection and allograft dysfunction from patients with stable graft function and normal protocol biopsies. Moreover, urinary cell levels of mRNA for OX40 were prognostic of a patient’s response to acute rejection treatment, as well as predict whether patients with acute rejection would lose their graft within 6 months following an episode of acute rejection.
Dr. Afaneh earned his medical degree from The Chicago Medical School in 2007, graduating with the distinction of Alpha Omega Alpha. He subsequently entered surgical residency at NY Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell in New York and in July of 2009, he began working under the auspicious mentorship of Dr. Manikkam Suthanthiran in his transplantation laboratory. In 2009 he was appointed to Cambridge’s Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals and in 2010 was selected as a VIP of the Year.
Hanna Trydzenskaya was granted a Young Investigator Award for her paper: New Protocol of BKV-specific T- cell Analysis Allows for Improved Assessment of Phenotypic and Functional Characteristics of BKV-specific Immunity. BKV-associated nephropathy (BKVAN) represents a serious complication of the post-transplant period in kidney transplant recipients (KTRs) leading to organ loss in 50% of all cases. Monitoring of BKV-specific immunity is very important for assessment of clinical course in KTRs with BKV infection/BKVAN. She demonstrated that using a mixture of overlapping peptides pools spanning all five BKV antigens enabled the identification of CD4- and CD8-T-cell responses and their phenotypic/functional characteristics that were not consistently detectable with the previously applied protocols with single protein stimulation. Thus, the results have significant clinical implication for monitoring of the complete BKV-specific cellular immunity as a predictive risk factor for the progression of BKV infection/BKVAN.
Hanna Trydzenskaya was born in Belarus and graduated from the Belarusian State University, where she specialized in chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. In 2008 she began her PhD studies at the Berlin-Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies at the Institute for Medical Immunology (Charité, Berlin) in the transplantation research group of Prof. Petra Reinke and Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk. Currently, her research focuses on regulation and pathogenesis of reactivation of Polyomavirus, the role of cellular immunity for the clinical course of Polyomavirus infection.
Russell Hogson received a Young Investigator award for his abstract Prolonged xenograft survival induced by ICOS-IG is associated with increased Foxp3+ cells. His work summarised important aspects arising from his PhD, demonstrating that costimulatory blockade with the fusion protein, ICOS-Ig, prolongs xenograft survival and that this was associated with perigraft FoxP3+ cell accumulation.
Russell Hodgson is a general surgical registrar in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He developed a keen interest in liver transplantation while studying and working at Austin Health, and has deferred his surgical training to complete a PhD in the related field of xenotransplantation under the supervision of Prof. Mauro Sandrin and Prof. Chris Christophi. At the completion of his PhD and surgical training, Russell is hoping to further his career in liver transplantation and transplantation research.