One of the greatest rewards of being an educator is seeing students and trainees experience success, whether it is completion of a difficult procedure, obtaining a competitive grant, or, in this case, a significant publication. A recent graduate of our residency program, Dr. Rohan Khera, is first author on a study comparing five different pharmacologic treatments for obesity. Dr. Khera and the senior author, Dr. Siddharth Singh—a former resident here and now an Assistant Professor at UC, San Diego—published their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In addition, a first-year fellow in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Dr. Rami Kafa, recently published an article in JAMA Cardiology examining the effects of aortic valve replacement on patients with severe aortic stenosis. Congratulations to both Dr. Khera and Dr. Kafa on these tremendous achievements.
As exciting as publications in the early phases of one’s career can be, those achieved by our senior faculty are also worth celebrating, particularly when they come as a result of years of quiet labor and the sometimes-challenging work of multidisciplinary collaboration that bridges basic and translational science. Dr. Mark Yorek, Professor of Endocrinology, shared senior authorship of an article published recently in Scientific Reports with Dr. Charles Brenner, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry. Both are members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. Their article details the ways in which a particular vitamin (nicotinamide riboside) is highly effective in preventing diabetes and diabetes-related neuropathies in mice. Dr. Yorek’s expertise in diabetes-related nerve damage, such as those that may lead to vision impairment or injuries serious enough to require amputation in some patients with diabetes, dovetailed nicely with Dr. Brenner’s examination of the vitamin’s effects on glucose tolerance. I am very interested to see what their results will be when this study moves into human trials.
Research success in terms of publications is importantly complemented by our ability to obtain competitive research funding. The Department has had strong success recently in obtaining funding from the American Heart Association (AHA). I was pleased to learn that Dr. Yanhui Zhang, a fellow working in Dr. Rajan Sah’s lab, recently received a postdoctoral fellowship grant from the AHA, which is a terrific indication of promise for someone just beginning her career. The same week, we also learned that Dr. Don Heistad received a grant from the AHA to continue his research on the mechanisms of aortic valve stenosis and its genetic underpinnings in the hopes of, in part, better identifying appropriate candidates for valve replacement. Congratulations to Dr. Zhang and Dr. Heistad on their recent grant awards.
Finally, and speaking of valve replacement surgery, I was amazed to see the recent news that Dr. Mohammad Bashir, Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Dr. Firas Zahr, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, successfully performed what could be the first-ever successful implantation of two transcatheter heart valves in one surgery. Reserved for patients who are too high-risk for open-heart surgery, the transcatheter aortic and mitral valve replacement procedure dramatically reduces recovery time and is designed to be less invasive than the conventional surgical approach. Kudos to our colleagues for their innovative care.