PFF Scholars

Helping Emerging Scientists Grow

In 2019, the PFF redefined its objectives for funding research and introduced the PFF Scholars program, which has replaced the Established and Junior Investigator awards. The PFF Scholars program will focus on engaging early-career investigators in their emerging research in the field of pulmonary fibrosis. With the goal of advancing research that could translate into successful therapies for PF, the PFF Scholars program is designed to support and enable promising researchers to obtain independent funding and continue their cutting- edge research. Scholars will receive up to $50,000 over a two-year period.

2019 Recipients


KatzenJeremy Katzen, MD

Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
This award is funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Katzen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his clinical fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, he joined Dr. Michael Beers’ laboratory, where he has studied quality control dysfunction in the distal lung epithelium as it relates to diffuse parenchymal lung disease and pulmonary fibrosis.  Specifically, he has modeled mutations in SFTPC to drive dysfunctional epithelial cellular phenotypes and studied the pathways from epithelial dysfunction to lung fibrosis.  Prior to coming to Penn Dr. Katzen completed his internal medicine training Northwestern University, where he did research in lung epithelial host-defense in Dr. Iasha Sznajder’s laboratory.  He completed his medical training at the University of Rochester School or Medicine and Dentistry and his undergraduate education at Bowdoin College.  Clinically, Dr. Katzen specializes in the management of interstitial lung diseases, and he is an Attending Physician in the University of Pennsylvania Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic.  
ObierneSarah O’Beirne, PhD
Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University
This award is funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc

Dr. O’Beirne, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetic Medicine and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. She received her MD from National University of Ireland, Galway and Translational PhD from University College Dublin, Ireland where she studied the role of epithelial to mesenchymal transition in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She completed her internal medicine residency and pulmonary fellowship through the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, followed by a pulmonary and critical care fellowship in New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine. Since completing her fellowship, Dr. O’Beirne has been undertaking translational pulmonary research in the Department of Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine focused on the effects of exposures including tobacco smoke and ambient pollution on the airway epithelium and alveolar macrophage transcriptome, and the consequences of its dysregulation in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Her current research utilizes single cell RNA-sequencing to study interstitial lung diseases including hypersensitivity pneumonitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.


AronsonKerri Aronson, MD
Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University
This award is funded by Chuck McQuaid

Dr. Kerri Aronson will be a Clinical Instructor in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the fall of 2019 at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Dr. Aronson attended medical school at the State University of New York, Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York where she was inducted into the AOA medical honor society.  She completed residency training in Internal Medicine and subsequently served as Chief Medical Resident at Weill Cornell Medical College. She further completed fellowship training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. During fellowship, Dr. Aronson worked under the mentorship of Dr. Monika Safford, Dr. Fernando Martinez, and Dr. Robert Kaner to complete a project aimed at better understanding patient experiences of living with Chronic Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis and to better define determinants of quality of life specific to this disease. Dr. Aronson’s current research focuses on the development and validation of a disease-specific health related quality of life instrument for patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis for use in both clinical practice and research.


farrandErica Farrand, MD
University of California, San Francisco
This award is funded by the Cohen, Veilleux, Tocher, and Feiger Families in fond memory of Eli Cohen

Dr. Farrand’s career in medicine began with an academic and practical education in health policy, followed quickly by early connections with academic physicians who recognized the value of using large, real-world datasets to study the effectiveness of interventions and improve healthcare delivery. This combination of influences has been transformative, and inspired Farrand to pursue research that crosses the traditional silos of academic research and clinical practice, using the clinical delivery system to answer questions that matter most to stakeholders, including clinicians, methodologists, payers, regulators, ethicists, and most importantly patients. Her research program is particularly relevant to the field of interstitial lung disease, in which there is limited evidence to support the complex clinical decisions faced by stakeholders.

Dr. Farrand completed her undergraduate education at the University of Virginia, followed by medical school and internal medicine training at Columbia University. After working for two years as an internist, she joined the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Allergy and Sleep Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Since completing clinical training, she joined the Interstitial Lung Disease group, developing a research program that aims to (1) advance the delivery of safe, efficient, high-quality care by supporting data-driven decision making and (2) develop a reusable, sustainable model for health-system embedded clinical research in ILD. When not at work, she enjoys hiking, biking and dancing with her husband, daughters, and dog Angus.


KimJohn Kim, MD
Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia
This award is partially funded by the Jenny H. Krauss and Otto F. Krauss Charitable Foundation Trust, in memory of Stephen N. Dirks.

Dr. John Kim is a pulmonary and critical care physician who’s research focuses on the identification of modifiable risk factors in pulmonary fibrosis. John earned his medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (Baltimore, MD). He completed his internal medicine residency and chief resident year at the University of Texas Southwestern (Dallas, TX) followed by a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at Columbia University (New York, NY). Under the mentorship of Dr. David Lederer during his fellowship at Columbia, Dr. Kim investigated the role of sleep disordered-breathing in subclinical interstitial lung disease and has transitioned to examining the potential protective role of omega-3 fatty acids. John will continue his research in pulmonary fibrosis at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA) as an Assistant Professor starting in the Fall of 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. Imre Noth.


Haak

Andrew Haak, PhD
Mayo Clinic

While attending Minnesota State University Moorhead, Andrew joined the combined laboratory of Drs. Joseph Provost and Mark Wallert where he investigated the role of the sodium hydrogen (NHE1) exchanger in non-small cell lung cancer migration, proliferation, and anchorage independent growth. For his doctoral work at The University of Michigan, he studied with Dr. Richard Neubig, an expert in the field of pharmacology and drug discovery. Following a high-throughput screening campaign, Andrew developed a potent and selective inhibitor of MRTF which effectively blocked in vivo melanoma lung metastasis and dermal fibrosis. This work led him to focus his postdoctoral research on pulmonary fibrosis. Andrew joined Dr. Tschumperlin’s group at The Mayo Clinic with the idea of combining Dr. Tschumperlin’s expertise in mechanosignaling and pulmonary fibrosis with Andrew’s background in pharmacology and drug discovery to identify and target novel mechanisms of fibroblast activation that could dramatically impact the outcome of this disease.

 

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