JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Lipid Association announced on Friday the recipients of its 2018-19 Junior Faculty Research Awards for Clinical Science and Basic Science.

Nathan O. Stitziel, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine and genetics at Washington University in St. Louis, was selected as the Clinical Science Award winner. Soumik BasuRay, Ph.D., currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Hobbs-Cohen Lab at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, was the recipient of the Basic Science Award.

“The NLA is very pleased to have an opportunity to be a supporting element in the career development of these two very promising researchers and grateful to Amgen for providing the fiscal support that makes this possible,” said W. Virgil Brown, M.D., who served as Chair of the NLA Junior Faculty Award Selection Committee.

The purpose of the awards is to encourage scholarly advancement of junior faculty in the pursuit of a career related to hyperlipidemia and other lipid disorders in humans. To support their research, each awardee’s research institution will receive $70,000 per year for two years’ salary support. Both awardees are expected to submit a scientific manuscript based on their research conducted within one year of the end of the two-year term to the Journal of Clinical Lipidology for publication.

Stitziel’s winning proposal, “Metabolic Consequences of Complete ANGPTL3 Deficiency in Humans,” aims to leverage deep organismal and cellular phenotyping to understand the consequences of complete ANGPTL3 deficiency on lipid and glucose metabolism in humans. Successful completion of this project has the potential to further understanding of lipoprotein metabolism in humans and refine understanding of the potential therapeutic consequences of targeting ANGPTL3 as a treatment for dyslipidemia.

“It is truly an honor to be selected by the NLA for the 2018 Junior Faculty Research Award,” said Stitziel, who also serves as director of the Center for Cardiovascular Genetics and assistant director of the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University. “The funding afforded by this program will allow my lab to extend our research on human lipid metabolism in novel ‘high risk’ directions and provide support for future grant applications. It is a great testament to the leadership of the National Lipid Association that they have the vision to provide much needed support for junior faculty in both basic and clinical lipid research.”

BasuRay’s winning proposal, “Lipid Droplet Dynamics in Fatty Liver Disease,” will aim to determine why some individuals are susceptible to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, while others are seemingly resistant. NAFLD is a burgeoning health problem that is closely linked to metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity and insulin resistance. The research will also further understanding of processes leading to the accumulation of triglyceride in lipid droplets in NAFLD.

“I am delighted and thank the National Lipid Association for this award,” BasuRay said. “This will enable me transform to an independent investigator. The purpose of the award is to pursue a relevant scientific problem in lipid metabolic disorders. One such disorder is fatty liver disease, which affects approximately one-third of the population in the United States and will soon overtake hepatitis C, as the leading indication for liver transplantation. Insights into the causes of FLD are urgently needed since no therapeutic intervention has proven to be uniformly effective in this disorder. This study will utilize our discovery of a variant (I148M) in the PNPLA3 gene that contributes importantly to FLD to elucidate the underlying causes of this condition. The goal is to develop new approaches and strategies to diagnose, prevent and treat FLD.”

The award review committee was comprised of Brown, co-chair Antonio Gotto, Jr., M.D., D.Phil., Christie Ballantyne, M.D., Alan Brown, M.D., Mark Cziraky, Pharm.D., Michael Davidson, M.D., Sergio Fazio, M.D., Edward Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., Abhimanyu Garg, M.D., Daniel Gaudet, M.D., Ph.D, Ira Goldberg, M.D., John Guyton, M.D., Robert Hegele, M.D., Peter Jones, M.D., Alan Remaley, M.D., Ph.D., Ernst Schaefer, M.D., Allan Sniderman, M.D., Don Wilson, M.D. and Joseph Witztum, M.D.

To be eligible for a Junior Faculty Research Award, an applicant is expected to hold or be eligible for a doctoral-level degree (Ph.D., Pharm.D. or M.D.) before the date of the scheduled award. Applicants must be a faculty member as an assistant or associate professor at a qualifying institution with less than seven years of service and have a record of accomplishment in a relevant research area.

The NLA is a multidisciplinary specialty society focused on prevention of cardiovascular disease and other lipid-related disorders. The NLA’s mission is to enhance the practice of lipid management in clinical medicine, and one of its goals is to enhance efforts to reduce death and disability related to disorders of lipid metabolism in patients. Members include physicians (MDs and DOs), as well as clinical team affiliates, from an array of disciplines including PhD researchers, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, exercise physiologists and dietitians.

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Eric Scott

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