JACKSONVILLE, FL--(Marketwired - June 15, 2017) - The National Lipid Association (NLA) announced on Thursday the recipients of its inaugural Junior Faculty Research Awards for Clinical Science and Basic Science.

Amit V. Khera, M.D., a cardiologist and physician-scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, was selected as the Clinical Science Award winner. Saskia Neher, Ph.D., currently an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was the recipient of the Basic Science Award.

"Both these young researchers have a track record of high productivity in scientific discovery and publication," said W. Virgil Brown, M.D., who served as Chair of the NLA Junior Faculty Award Selection Committee. "They are working on areas of importance to the fundamental understanding of lipid metabolism that will certainly have relevance to clinical lipid disorders."

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.

"We were pleased to have 27 excellent candidates apply for faculty support to help in development of research programs in various aspects of lipidology," Brown said. "Almost without exception, these applicants offered the opportunity to support the beginning of promising careers, ones that can make meaningful contributions to understanding and treating lipid disorders."

Khera's winning proposal, "Determinants of LDL Cholesterol and Coronary Artery Disease Among Individuals with a Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Mutation," builds on his previous work noting substantial variability among carriers of FH mutations in both LDL cholesterol and heart attack risk. He will specifically aim to characterize the genetic and non-genetic determinants of observed LDL cholesterol levels and assess the genetic, lifestyle, and biomarker risk factors for myocardial infarction among those with a FH mutation. The work will inform ongoing efforts to screen the population for such mutations and clinical counseling for patients who inherit such a mutation.

"It is a huge honor to be selected for this award," Khera said. "It will provide critical funding support at an early stage in my career as I mature into an independent investigator and facilitate collaboration with international leaders in lipid metabolism through the National Lipid Association."

Neher's winning proposal, "Mechanisms of Lipoprotein Lipase Folding," will specifically aim to define the mechanism of Lmf1-mediated protein folding and determine Lmf1's role in folding novel clients important to human health. Neher's lab studies LPL, the main lipase that clears triglycerides from the blood. Neher and her team aim to understand factors that help LPL and other important proteins in the blood fold to their active form. They seek to identify what happens when the process goes wrong and how it impacts human health.

"I am deeply honored to be selected for the NLA's Junior Faculty Basic Science Award," Neher said. "This award will have a great impact on my research program. It not only provides financial support but also provides excellent exposure for my group's exciting research. Our work has certainly been challenging, and I am grateful to the hard-working scientists in my lab who make it possible."

"We are extremely pleased to have a part in assuring that their opportunity to continue this exciting research will be enhanced by the programs of the National Lipid Association," Brown said. "In addition, their presence on the faculty of their respective institutions will add to the academic instruction and provide inspiration to younger students of science that may multiply the number of those entering fields related to lipid metabolism. Their discoveries and their examples are extremely important to the NLA as the basis of growth in fundamental understanding of the approaches likely to be successful in improving the practice of clinical lipidology."

The award review committee was comprised of Brown, co-chair Antonio Gotto, Jr., M.D., D.Phil, Alan Brown, M.D., Michael Davidson, M.D., Mark Cziraky, Pharm.D., Sergio Fazio, M.D., Edward Fisher, 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., and Don Wilson, 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.

More information about the next NLA Junior Faculty Research Award cycle will be available in Fall 2017 on lipid.org.

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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Contact Information:

Eric Scott
(904) 309-6225