Friday, November 1, 2013

In General Awards and Honors: Nov. 11, 2013

Leigh Hochberg, MD, PhD, of MGH Neurology, and the BrainGate research and development team, received the $1 million Moshe Mirilashvili Memorial Fund Breakthrough Research and Innovation in Neurotechnology (B.R.A.I.N.) Prize, which recognizes a recent breakthrough in the field of brain technology. The BrainGate team – a collaboration among researchers at the MGH, Brown University, the Providence Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University and Stanford University – was honored for their outstanding work in creating the first human uses of an implanted neural sensor and neural interface system to control robotic and prosthetic arms in three-dimensional space. The international award was presented by Israeli President Shimon Peres on Oct. 15 at the BrainTech Israel 2013 Conference in Tel Aviv. For more information visit

Andrew Warshaw, MD, FACS, MGH surgeon-in-chief emeritus, was named president-elect of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Warshaw, who joined the MGH in 1972, became a fellow of the ACS in 1974 and has held various leadership positions at the college, including vice president, treasurer and chair of the Health Policy and Advocacy Group.

David Louis, MD, MGH pathologist-in-chief, received the National Brain Tumor Society Feldman Founder’s Award for his outstanding contributions and invaluable impact on the field of brain tumor research. Louis was honored for his work in the molecular genetic basis of gliomas, which has been fundamental in the advancement of brain tumor research. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate that molecular approaches could subdivide malignant gliomas biologically and could predict their response to therapies. This work has resulted in worldwide adoption of molecular testing for brain tumor patient management.

Susan Briggs, MD, MPH, director of the MGH International Trauma and Disaster Institute, was honored as co-recipient of the Woman of Valor Award, presented annually by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The award honors distinguished women for their leadership contribution to the ADL, to Boston communities, and their commitment to making a difference in social and civil arenas. Briggs was recognized for her international education and clinical care efforts.

Joseph Vacanti, MD, surgeon-in-chief of MassGeneral Hospital for Children, received the 2013 William E. Ladd Medal at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Conference on Oct. 26. The medal, which recognizes an individual who has advanced the field of pediatric surgery, is the highest honor awarded by the Surgical Section of the AAP.

Andrea Paciello, executive director of MGH Radiation Oncology, was named the Distinguished Guest Lecturer in Healthcare Administration by Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School. Paciello will have a faculty appointment for a two-year period through June 2015.

Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD, director of the MGH Bipolar Clinic and Research Program and associate director of the Depression Clinical and Research Program, was awarded The 2013 Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research. The award is given by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation to an outstanding scientist studying on the causes, pathophysiology, treatment or prevention of affective disorders. Nierenberg was recognized for his research on new approaches for difficult-to-treat illnesses, for his work establishing treatment-resistant depression as a legitimate field for inquiry, and for his studies of children
at risk for bipolar disorder.

Rachel Kohn, MD, a third-year resident in MGH Internal Medicine, has been named a 2013 Emerging Liver Scholar by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Mentored by Parsia Vagefi, MD, of Transplant Surgery, Kohn is a member of Vagefi’s liver transplant research group and is investigating the effects of geographic disparities in organ allocation. She will present her research at the 2013 Liver Meeting in Washington, D.C. later this month.

Boston MedFlight, which provides critical care transport for patients throughout New England, was awarded the 2013 Ground Transport Program of the Year Award from the Association of Air Medical Services for demonstrating exemplary commitment to quality improvement, excellence in safety consciousness, patient care, community service, strong leadership and visionary innovation. MedFlight also was honored as a leader in aviation safety within the industry with the Vision Zero Safety Aviation Award in recognition of its commitment to outstanding levels of safety, ongoing upgrades in technology, and implementation of innovative programs. The MGH is a founding member of the Boston MedFlight consortium and has been part of the organization for 28 years.

The Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at the MGH is starting a new program to create a more hopeful and supportive future for patients with the rare cancer mesothelioma. The goals of the Mesothelioma Research and Resource Program are both to expand treatment options by identifying promising immunotherapy drugs and to provide support and resources for patients suffering from the disease and their families. The program has been made possible by a $300,000 grant from Arthur Luxenberg and Perry Weitz, founding partners of Weitz and Luxenberg in New York. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer of the lung lining usually caused by exposure to asbestos. For the approximately 3,000 patients diagnosed each year, survival is often limited to one to two years. Current treatment options for mesothelioma have limited success, and the cancer has a impact significant on patients and their families.

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