The I.M. Rosenzweig Junior Investigator Award Winners
The I.M. Rosenzweig Junior Investigator Award was established to encourage researchers to maintain and enhance their interest in PF research during the early stages of their academic career.
Kristen Tropea Leeman, MD
Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital
Proposal Title: “Characterization of Endogenous Lung Stem Cells in a Pulmonary Fibrosis Model”Dr. Kristen Leeman is a neonatologist in the Division of Newborn Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School. She attended University of Virginia Medical School, completed her pediatrics residency at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and trained at the Harvard Neonatal Perinatal Fellowship Program where she served as a Chief Fellow. She currently conducts her research under the mentorship of Dr. Carla Kim at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
Her research interests include examining the role of endogenous lung stem cells in lung injury and repair. Specifically, she has begun to focus on determining the effects of fibrosis on lung stem cell autonomous functions and examining the effects of mesenchymal stromal cell treatment on lung stem cell properties in pulmonary fibrosis.
She hopes her work utilizing lung stem cell biology to gain insight into pulmonary disease mechanisms will lead to novel therapeutic approaches. Dr. Leeman enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling, and painting.
The Albert Rose Established Investigator Award Winners
Created to allow established investigators to explore novel, innovative areas of research, the Albert Rose Established Investigator Award provides critical support to the development of new projects, and enables the investigator to pursue additional funding through the National Institutes of Health or other agencies. Two $50,000 grants are awarded per annual cycle, disbursed over a two-year period.
Michael F. Beers, MD
University of Pennsylvania
Proposal Title: "Modeling of Epithelial Cell Dysfunction in Pulmonary Fibrosis Using SP-C BRICHOS Mutations"
This proposal is funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.Dr. Michael F. Beers holds a joint appointment as Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division and Senior Investigator at the Institute for Environmental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Since joining the University faculty in 1992, he has pursued an academic career as a physician-scientist with a research program centered in basic and translational investigations in lung epithelial cell biology and surfactant biochemistry in health and disease.
Most recently, his laboratory, which is funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs has focused on understanding the contribution of the alveolar epithelia to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. Using a variety of models including primary lung epithelial cells, mammalian cell lines, Drosophila melanogaster (the common fruit fly), transgenic mice, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patients with mutations in two surfactant genes (SP-C and ABCA3), his lab has identified important roles for endoplasmic reticulum stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, intrinsic apoptosis, and cellular proteostasis (autophagy and ER associated degradation) in the disease process. In addition to his research and clinical activities, Dr. Beers serves as Associate Director for Basic and Translational Pulmonary Research Training at the University and is past Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Mauricio Rojas, MD
University of Pittsburgh
Proposal Title: “Senescent Stem Cells Increases Susceptibility to Pulmonary Fibrosis”
Dr. Rojas completed his undergraduate and medical education at the National University of Colombia in 1987, and continued his education in Immunology at the National Institute of Immunology in Colombia from 1987 to 1991. He was a Research Associate at the same institution and became the Scientific Director of the Vaccine Clinical Trials in 1992. Dr. Rojas joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University in 1994. He was a visiting scientist and a post-doctoral fellow when he developed a novel system to cell permeabilize proteins denominated MTS (membrane translocating sequence) that was patented worldwide by Vanderbilt University.
In 2002, Dr. Rojas served as a junior faculty member at the Center for Translational Research in the Lung Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Emory University. While there he developed an independent scientific career by studying the role of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells in lung injury and repair. His work resulted in seminal contributions in understanding the immunomodulatory mechanisms used by the mesenchymal stem cells. His work has been internationally recognized and supported by several grant awards from the National Institutes of Health, the American Federation of Aging, and other institutional grants.
Since 2010, Dr. Rojas has become an Assistant Professor, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh; a Faculty Member at the McGowan Institute, University of Pittsburgh; and a faculty member of the Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research Center at The University of Pittsburgh.