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7 outstanding young gastroenterologists receive AGA Foundation 2008 Research Scholars Award
Date:5/30/2008

The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition has announced the 2008 American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Foundation Research Scholars. The grants have been awarded to seven outstanding young gastroenterologists who promise to make significant strides in the field of gastrointestinal research.

The prestigious Research Scholar Awards offer each scientist a total award of $225,000 to help support his or her research over a three-year period. The goal of the Research Scholar Awards is to guarantee the perpetuation of strong science through the encouragement of young physician investigators and ultimately to improve patient care through digestive diseases research.

These extremely competitive awards ensure that bright, young physicians and scientists devote their careers to advancing the field of digestive health through research. Awards are based on the qualifications of the candidate, the quality of the candidate's research proposal and the commitment of the candidate's institution to protect 70 percent of his or her time for research.

The 2008 AGA Research Scholars are:

Edda Fiebiger, PhD
Studies on the Role of IgE-Fc-epsilon-RI-mediated Immune Responses in the Gastrointestinal Tract
Children's Hospital Boston

Lara Gawenis, PhD
Transepithelial HCO3 - Transport in Murine Proximal Colon
University of Utah

Pradipta Ghosh, MB, BS, MD
The Role of G proteins and GIV/Girdin in Cell Migration: Implications in Colon Cancer Metastases
University of California, San Diego

Yuko Mori-Akiyama, MD
The Role of SOX9 in the Intestinal Epithelium and in Colorectal Cancer Progression
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Richard J. Saad, MD
(Designated RSA related to Geriatrics)
The Differences in Physiologic Mechanisms Underlying Chronic Constipation in Elderly Versus Younger Adults with Constipation
University of Michigan

Kirsten Sadler-Edepli, M.M.SC, PhD
Using Zebrafish to Uncover the Role of the Unfolded Protein Response in Steatosis
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

Michael Volk, MD, MSc
Physician and Patient Decision-Making About Organ Quality in Liver Transplantation
University of Michigan

"Obtaining research funding continues to be a difficult pursuit, especially for young scientists, despite their tremendous potential to increase the strides being made in gastrointestinal research," said Sidney Cohen, MD, AGAF, Chairman of the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition. "The AGA Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition is uniquely able to help fund these gifted scholars, enabling them to continue their research programs. We hope to help foster young scientists, which will continue to grow the field of gastroenterology and hopefully lead to new preventions, diagnostic mechanisms, treatments and potentially even cures for gastrointestinal illnesses."

The Research Scholar Awards program was launched in 1984 to provide crucial early support to investigators who show promise in academic gastroenterological research. The program's premise recognized that resources awarded early on could provide a stable platform from which future research funding would be derived. During and after their time as an AGA Research Scholar, recipients have made important contributions to the field of gastroenterology and many former award recipients have gone on to hold distinguished appointments in major medical institutions in the United States and Canada.

Since 1984, the AGA and its Foundation has awarded more than $19 million to fund 155 Research Scholars and has provided a total of $30 million in grant funding. The 2008 Scholars were chosen by a distinguished 30-person national advisory committee chaired by David Brenner, MD, Dean and Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences at University of California, San Diego. Members of the committee include leading gastroenterologists from the Mayo Clinic, Harvard University Medical School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of Texas Southwestern, Washington University St. Louis, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine.

The AGA Research Scholar Awards program addresses the critical problem of a lack of funding for entry-level researchers in gastroenterology. At a time of unparalleled scientific and clinical opportunity, the field of gastroenterology faces a significant decline in the number of gastroenterologists entering academic research careers. Although the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds a significant amount of gastroenterology research, it rarely funds young investigators working independently without a research track record. Additionally, NIH gastroenterology research funding is proportionately much smaller than for diseases with less or similar health impact (such as HIV/AIDS or breast cancer).

There are more than 300 digestive diseases that adversely affect the lives of more than 65 million Americans. Thirty percent of Americans suffer a gastroenterological illness each year, resulting in over 8 million hospital admissions and 30 million doctor visits. At least 40 million Americans are burdened with chronic digestive conditions that disrupt their lives. More Americans are hospitalized for digestive diseases than for any other type of illness. Nearly one in four cancer deaths is related to the digestive system. The annual costs associated with digestive diseases have continued to rise to an all time high of more than $85 billion and the magnitude of this problem is increasing rapidly. Since 1985, the number of people suffering digestive health problems in the United States has climbed by 20 percent. By 2025, our nation's average life expectancy will increase from 77 to 82 years. Because many digestive diseases occur as we age, their incidence may skyrocket.


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Contact: Aimee Frank
media@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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