Faculty Awards

  • Faculty Awards

    Andrew F. Beck, MD, MPH

    Service and Advocacy Award

    Life has improved for many undernourished infants and hundreds of families living in unhealthy housing conditions thanks to innovative community collaborations spearheaded by Andrew Beck, MD, MPH. Soon after becoming an attending pediatrician in General and Community Pediatrics in 2009, Beck led efforts to adjust our electronic medical record system to identify children coming into the hospital who were at higher risk of health problems due to social and economic hardship. He helped form collaborations with the Cincinnati Health Department and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati to address unhealthy housing conditions. So far, these projects have improved 677 apartments and have identified nearly 200 more Cincinnati families living in “sick” buildings. This approach, now being expanded county-wide, serves as one of our pillars in preventing asthma-related hospital readmissions. Beck also co-led a team that found high rates of infant food insecurity among families seen in our hospital clinics. This led to a program involving the Freestore/Foodbank, Kroger and Procter & Gamble that has helped more than 1,000 families with donated infant formula, diapers and more.

    Jorge A. Bezerra, MD

    Mentoring Achievement Award

    Few physician-scientists at Cincinnati Children’s have demonstrated as much passion for mentoring others as Jorge Bezerra, MD. Beyond his own impressive body of research, Bezerra has provided direct mentoring, career guidance, early stage grant review and useful feedback to dozens of faculty members, fellows and graduate students. His grant annotations and diagrams for trainees are legendary. Bezerra is sought after because he knows what it takes to be successful and is selfless in his mentoring. Of 35 mentees he has helped since 1995, five have become assistant professors, nine are associate professors, two are professors and one is a chair of pediatrics. Many more of our faculty have benefited from Bezerra’s service on scholarship oversight and ad hoc advisory committees. In his roles with the Digestive Health Center and the Trustee and Procter Scholar (TAPS) program, Bezerra advances opportunities for young investigators and provides valuable feedback to grant applicants. In addition, he regularly serves as a scientific mentor to summer students and other trainees.

    Maria T. Britto, MD, MPH

    Clinical Care Achievement Award 

    When the American Board of Pediatrics started its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine and Health developed models for clinical quality improvement, both cited the Center for Innovation in Chronic Disease Care, directed by Maria Britto, MD, as the paradigm. Britto joined Cincinnati Children’s in 1995 as an assistant professor. She has directed the Innovation Center since 2006. She is a nationally recognized leader in developing methods to define and arrive at “perfect care” as well as enhancing adherence to treatment. She is a master clinician who has been listed several times among the “Best Doctors in America.” She also has chaired the Chronic Care Steering Committee, worked closely with the Anderson Center to improve health outcomes for those with special care needs, and has served on multiple national service and professional committees. In addition, Britto has served as an academic and research mentor to many fellows and junior faculty who have benefited from her keen clinical, research, and administrative skills.

    Bradley P. Dixon, MD

    Entrepreneurial Achievement Award 

    Cincinnati Children’s already receives $800,000 a year and is projected to receive more than $1.3 million a year in income directly attributable to the entrepreneurial work of Bradley Dixon, MD. Dixon worked with the Division of Human Genetics and the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute to launch a comprehensive diagnostic platform for thrombotic microangiopathies (TMA), the only test panel of its kind in the country. Over the past two years, Dixon has expanded the testing performed in the Nephrology Clinical Laboratory to include ADAMTS13 activity and inhibition, ADAMTS13 Autoantibody, Factor H Autoantibody, CH50, and most recently Factor Bb. Specimens from patients in eight states and as far away as Brazil are tested here. Dixon helped develop national marketing materials for TMA testing and has been a key expert presence for Cincinnati Children’s at national nephrology and hematology meetings. He also has spearheaded strategic partnerships with a pharmaceutical company, two private and university- based laboratories and a large physician practice.

    Robert W. Frenck, Jr., MD

    Service and Advocacy Award

    In the seven years since Robert Frenck, MD, became chair of our Institutional Review Board (IRB), the number of protocols to be reviewed has doubled, yet the amount of time needed to complete reviews has fallen by more than half. Thanks to Frenck’s leadership and organizational skills, the median number of days needed to approve studies requiring full committee review at Cincinnati Children’s has fallen from 90 days in 2006 to 30 in 2013, now much faster than the national benchmark of 45 days. This is a remarkable record. Frenck also lectures regularly about ethics in research at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and has delivered invited presentations to the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs and the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research group. Frenck’s dedication to IRB work is all the more impressive because he also serves as clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, associate director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, and as a full-time clinician.

    Donald L. Gilbert, MD, MS

    Educational Achievement Award

    One of the driving forces behind Cincinnati Children’s rising national status in pediatric neurology training has been Donald Gilbert, MD, MS. Under his leadership, applications to our Child Neurology Residency Program have skyrocketed from 40 in 2009 to nearly 140 this year. Gilbert is an exceptional educator who balances multiple research projects with outstanding clinical care for children with movement disorders. His enthusiasm for education has inspired our residents, who recently nominated him for a national training award given by the Child Neurology Society and the Professors of Child Neurology. Gilbert is a member of the Tourette Syndrome Association-USA Medical Advisory Board and the American Academy of Pediatrics Neurology Executive Committee. He has published several articles and editorials that support child neurology as an independent specialty and explore educational issues ranging from residency initiation to the timing of board certification exams. His passion has elevated Cincinnati Children’s as a leader in this growing specialty field.

    David K. Hooper, MD, MS

    Clinical Care Achievement Award

    Since launching the Kidney Transplant Innovation Team three years ago, David Hooper, MD, MS, has undertaken several initiatives that have transformed the clinical care of children after receiving kidney transplants. He has significantly improved processes for monitoring cholesterol, blood pressure and 12 other measures to detect the earliest signs of cardiovascular disease among transplant recipients. He developed a sophisticated visit planning system that serves as a model for the entire institution and has greatly improved patient outcomes and family satisfaction. He also implemented an annual evaluation system to track psychosocial and quality of life factors in addition to medical assessments of patients. As a result, Cincinnati Children’s kidney transplant program has become one of the three busiest in the country. Hooper’s work has helped our program gain national prominence for managing newborns with highly complex conditions until they are large enough to receive transplants. He also has expanded collaborations between programs to improve care for children who need multi-organ transplants.

    Robert Kahn, MD, MPH

    Service and Advocacy Award

    Few of our faculty have demonstrated as much skill and passion for child advocacy as Robert Kahn, MD, MPH. Thousands of families have been helped by his work to form a wide range of academic-community partnerships. Kahn co-founded the Cincinnati Child Health-Law Partnership (Child HeLP), which has helped nearly 2,500 low-income families address poor housing conditions, domestic violence and inadequate special education services. He was influential in the launch of the Keeping Infants Nourished and Developing (KIND) program with the Freestore/Foodbank, the Cincinnati Health Department, Kroger and Procter & Gamble to provide formula and other necessities to more than 1,000 infants. He also co-founded the Collaboration to Lessen Environmental Asthma Risks (CLEAR) program to address housing issues detected among families of children with asthma. Kahn leads Cincinnati Children’s Population Health Initiative, which aims to reduce traditionally difficult community-wide health issues such as infant mortality, asthma morbidity and unintentional injuries. He further spreads the impact of his work through invited speakerships, more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and inspiring junior faculty and fellows to pursue similar careers.

    Tatiana Kalin, MD, PhD

    Mentoring Achievement Award

    Several trainees at Cincinnati Children’s have gone on to publish in top-tier scientific journals, earn external funding and win distinguished awards thanks in large part to the enthusiasm and guidance of Tatiana (Tanya) Kalin, MD, PhD. Kalin has recruited outstanding undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows and research assistants to her laboratory, which investigates the role of transcriptional regulators of carcinogenesis. She is the primary mentor for three students in our Molecular and Developmental Biology (MDB), Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine programs and two postdoctoral fellows. She also serves on dissertation committees at the University of Cincinnati, where she recruits and interviews undergraduate students for the MDB, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and Biomedical Science Flex programs. One of her recent graduate students, David Balli, PhD, has received the Albert J. Ryan Foundation Fellowship and the Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Cincinnati.

    Timothy D. Le Cras, PhD

    Educational Achievement Award

    The Molecular and Developmental Biology (MDB) Graduate Program at Cincinnati Children’s was recently rated the top graduate program at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, an achievement driven in part by 10 years of leadership from Tim Le Cras, PhD. Le Cras has been closely involved in recruiting more than 100 PhD students to Cincinnati Children’s. He has reached out to minority populations, created an undergraduate research experience program and more. Most recently, Le Cras developed a new Physician-Scientist Fellowship, funded by UC and Cincinnati Children’s, which supports the training each year of an MD/PhD candidate devoted to pediatric disease. LeCras has developed creative approaches to reach promising young students, including a retooled online presence and a series of videos that involve students describing real life in the MDB program. These videos, which have received more than 6,000 views on YouTube, have become a model for other recruitment efforts here. Thanks to Le Cras’ work, more outstanding recruits are joining Cincinnati Children’s and they are much more likely to make important contributions to pediatric research and education.

    John P. Pestian, PhD, MBA

    Entrepreneurial Achievement Award

    From optimizing psychiatric medications to predicting suicide risk, few faculty members at Cincinnati Children’s have done more to transform innovative ideas into marketable products as John Pestian, PhD, MBA. His research has yielded more than 20 patents, patents pending, and invention disclosures. He is one of four co-inventors of the gene testing technology used by AssureRx, which has performed more than 100,000 tests, employs 135 people and generates more than $25 million in annual revenue. His recent work to develop a suicide prediction system has been optioned for license even before clinical trials are complete. His impressive body of work also includes predicting neurosurgery for epilepsy patients, neurocognitive computing and innovative ways to process clinical text from medical records. Pestian has authored nearly 70 peer-reviewed publications and has been awarded more than $96 million in grants, including Cincinnati Children’s only Third Frontier grant. That $28 million award was used to seed more than $225 million in additional grants and funding.

    David Pruitt, MD

    Educational Achievement Award

    The pediatric rehabilitation fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s, launched in 2005 by David Pruitt, MD, has developed into the one of the most highly regarded and sought after fellowships of its kind in the country. In a specialty with fewer than 15 trainees per year for more than 20 available positions, our program has been able to recruit a fellow every year. The program’s most recent visit from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) also resulted in a special commendation. Pruitt founded and has chaired the National Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine Fellowship Director’s Annual Meeting for the past five years. He is the sole pediatric member on two national level residency review and program planning committees. He also has served as an oral board examiner and content writer for the pediatric rehabilitation subspecialty exam. In 2011, Pruitt was the first recipient of the Pediatric Rehabilitation and Developmental Disabilities Council Outstanding Service Award.

    Daniel Starczynowski, PhD

    Research Achievement Award

    Few investigators have established themselves in their field of study as rapidly as Daniel Starczynowski, PhD. Since joining Cincinnati Children’s just three years ago, he has built a solid research program on the molecular and genetic determinants of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). He has also built a strong reputation for collaboration and collegiality. Starczynowski is a rising star in MDS and leukemia research. With a variety of grants and awards including the prestigious American Society for Hematology Scholar Award, a Gabriel’s Angels Cancer Foundation award and an NIH R01 grant, he has produced research that has been published in Cancer Cell, Blood, JCI, and Leukemia. His latest work identifies a novel molecular target in MDS, which may soon have therapeutic impact. He has coordinated Cincinnati Children’s successful Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute Seminar Series for the past three years. He serves on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute advisory panel on MDS and several journal editorial boards. Starczynowski is highly thought of as a colleague and a mentor. His scientific acumen and leadership qualities can only further enhance the national stature of our research program.

    Katherine E. Yutzey, PhD

    Research Achievement Award

    In the 18 years since she joined the Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology, Katherine Yutzey, PhD, has been nothing short of a superstar. Her numerous publications include eight manuscripts published in 2012 and another eight in 2013. She is a leading researcher in the field of cardiac developmental biology, invited to speak at every major cardiac development meeting worldwide. She has twice been chosen to organize and host the International Weinstein Meeting in Cardiac Development. She is principal investigator or project director for four NIH grants and has continued three NIH-funded projects for more than 12 years. She has served on 23 committees at Cincinnati Children’s over the years, including nine currently. She directed the Molecular and Developmental Biology graduate program for four years and she has trained 10 PhD students and seven post-doctoral fellows in her lab. Nationally, Yutzey has served on numerous NIH study sections and committees and in advisory roles for several foundations and private funding agencies. She is clearly one of our top senior faculty members and an outstanding role model for aspiring female trainees and junior faculty.

    Yi Zheng, PhD

    Mentoring Achievement Award

    “Brilliant, humble, engaging, enthusiastic, passionate and a lot of fun.” These adjectives, used by his colleagues, describe why Yi Zheng, PhD, has been a masterful mentor to a highly successful team of investigators in the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute. Zheng is the Katherine Stewart Waters Endowed Chair of Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology and leader of our Signaling and Drug Discovery Program. His own research has immense implications for improved cancer treatments, yet like all great mentors, Zheng considers his colleagues’ research just as important. This combination of personal achievement and commitment to those around him is not easily found in a leader. Among his successes, Zheng instituted weekly grant meetings to openly discuss grant aims and ideas. These meetings have improved the likelihood of success for many funding applications and have attracted faculty from other divisions seeking constructive feedback. At a time when health sciences research is challenged for funding, Zheng has fostered the collegiality that leads to successful National Institutes of Health projects and that produces important findings through collaboration and teamwork.

    Interventional Radiology

    Team Award

    The five physicians who lead Interventional Radiology (IR) at Cincinnati Children’s demonstrate every day why effective teams are so often greater than the sum of their parts. The IR program is a model for efficiency, quality, safety and professionalism. The team’s wide range of skills include managing difficult vascular access, complex thrombotic syndromes, complex brain vascular malformations, non-central nervous system vascular malformations, tissue biopsies and life-threatening bleeding. Most pediatric IR programs consist of one or two physicians. Having five team members with complementary talents allows our IR group to take on seemingly insurmountable clinical challenges that likely would not be addressed effectively at other institutions. They perform these services 24 hours a day, while keeping patient safety and excellent clinical outcomes a priority. Our entire clinical service – and most importantly, our patients - greatly benefit from the talent, expertise and responsiveness of the Interventional Radiology team.