The career path for most scientists and physician-investigators is a mix of both successes and failures — opportunities and discoveries often come only after years or decades of perseverance and meticulous work. But these challenges can make moments of success that much sweeter and worthy of celebration.
Later this month, three early-career investigators who have been selected as the Brigham’s 2022 President Scholars will be honored at the annual Research Appreciation Celebration. These philanthropically funded awards support the careers of assistant or associate professors at the Brigham who have made outstanding contributions to their chosen field of research and who have exceptional potential. Each Scholar will receive $100,000 per year for three years.
“The President’s Scholar Awards exemplify our commitment to supporting our early-career investigators and reflect our collective pride in the talented investigators who have chosen the Brigham as their home,” said Brigham President Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA.
Read on to find out more about each of this year’s winners.
Five Facts About Lynn Bry, MD, PhD: Understanding the Complex Interactions of Humans and Microbes
- Bry traces her path to the Brigham back to a chance encounter with the book, “The Microbes, Our Unseen Friends,” left by Stan Zahler, PhD, her undergraduate advisor at Cornell. A picture in the book inspired Bry’s thesis in Jeff Gordon’s lab at Washington University.
- Bry started her clinical pathology residency at the Brigham in 1998. She chose the Brigham in part because an anaerobic microbiologist, Andy Onderdonk, PhD, would be her clinical chief.
- While completing clinical training, Bry also pursued research opportunities in mucosal immunology as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow in the laboratory of Michael Brenner, MD, of the Division of Rheumatology, Inflammation and Immunity.
- Bry is inspired by microbes, which she describes as influencing every aspect of human evolution and physiology. Her goal is to discover the complex mechanisms driving human-microbe interactions, particularly the beneficial ones, to harness them for clinical applications. These applications have included new therapeutic approaches for diseases such as diabetes, food allergies and resistance to infectious agents.
- Bry’s favorite restaurant in Boston is Blue Nile — and perhaps it is her microbes’ favorite restaurant too. “When we sit down to eat, our microbes sit down to eat as well,” she says. “I sometimes consider how we’ll jointly enjoy a meal.”
Shahin Lockman: Improving Global Health, Creating Lasting Partnerships
- Lockman was born in Ohio but lived in several countries growing up. She attended first through 12th grade public school overseas prior to college. And her mother grew up in India after her grandparents emigrated there from Iran. “I feel like a world citizen,” she says.
- Lockman came to the Brigham 22 years ago and never left. She chose the Brigham-MGH infectious disease fellowship program because she believed that it provided the best clinical infectious disease training. The Brigham has been her work home, along with the Botswana Harvard Partnership, since she completed her infectious disease training.
- A primary part of Lockman’s work is patient-oriented research related to HIV in southern Africa. Since 1996, she has worked in collaboration with colleagues from the region. One area of focus is understanding the impact of HIV treatment during pregnancy/breastfeeding on holistic maternal and child health outcomes, and identifying (including through clinical trials) treatment regimens that will optimize these outcomes.
- Another major focus for Lockman has been helping to establish, sustain and grow the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, an internationally recognized clinical research institution in southern Africa, through collaboration with and mentoring of scientists from the region. Lockman has mentored more than 25 early-career investigators from Africa and the U.S. and is committed to supporting the careers of the next generation of patient-oriented researchers focused on global health and infectious diseases.
- Lockman is also working with colleagues at the World Health Organization and other stakeholders to advance strategies to accelerate and improve ethical research on new drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding to prevent or treat HIV and other infections.
Duane Wesemann: Probing the Immune System’s Capabilities
Duane Wesemann, MD, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine. Read more about his work in a CRN story here.
- Wesemann is originally from the Rocky Mountain area. He came to Boston for its rich research environment and was drawn to the Brigham after his Internal Medicine residency interview. He joined the residency program in 2005 and has been here ever since.
- Before medical school, Wesemann worked a variety of jobs, including newspaper deliverer, office building janitor, dishwasher, wallpaper installer and plane washer.
- Wesemann’s lab studies how the immune system recognizes and deals with infectious threats. He is particularly interested in figuring out what the immune system is capable of in terms of magnitude, breadth and durability of immune memory and how to access these features with vaccines and new biotechnologies.
- Wesemann wants to explore how the immune system senses and stores information, and how responses are regulated and translate these findings into clinical impact. “This funding will provide flexibility to explore ways to translate our scientific findings to new options for patients in need,” he says.
- One piece of advice that has stayed with Wesemann came to him from one of his mentors, Michael Brenner, MD, (also Bry’s mentor) during a difficult time, due to a string of failed grant applications. Brenner pointed Wesemann to a line in a Rudyard Kipling poem: “…fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…” and encouraged him to be the same person through thick and thin — treating both success and failure the same way.