Event Recap News Obesity Research Incubator Session

3rd Annual Obesity Research Incubator Session

May 15, 2013 – 4PM – 6PM, Bornstein Amphitheatre and Cabot Atrium

The Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders Research Center at the Brigham Research Institute considers obesity to be a top research priority in accordance with the recent National Institutes of Health Strategic Plan for Obesity Research. The goal of this session is to bring together obesity and obesity-related comorbidities, to promote cross-collaborative research efforts, and to stimulate new ideas for further investigation as well as to address this challenge public health crisis through research.

With the goal of promoting vibrant scientific discussions, Gail Adler, MD, PhD, introduced the event, the first hour featured oral presentations on a few select themes in obesity research in the Bornstein Amphitheatre, and the second hour offered an interactive poster session on obesity research in the nearby Cabot Atrium.


Targeting Start Domains in the Metabolic System

David E. Cohen, MD, PhD, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center and the Obesity Research Center at MGH, Robert H. Ebert Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard Medical School

Gastrointestinal Regulation of Metabolic Function – Insights from Bariatric Surgery

Lee M. Kaplan, MD, PhD, Director of Hepatology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Discover Brigham Event Recap News

Highlights from Discover Brigham 2020

Thursday, November 12, 2019 11:00am – 4pm, Virtual Event

Discover Brigham was held virtually this year, the research, innovation and science at the Brigham was brought to life digitally by those who presented their captivating sessions, demos and posters.

Advancing science has never been more critical or time-sensitive as it is right now, given the global pandemic, but it has also never been so inspiring. Our researchers and scientists work every day to change and uplift the global conditions that have impacted our lives. In this year’s Discover Brigham, we came together to create an event that echoed the many strong voices heard around the world calling for change and progress.

On November 12th, the Brigham Research Institute hosted six exciting sessions, nine live demonstrations and featured close to 100 scientific posters at the poster session.

Agenda: Posters, Sessions & Demos

  • Poster Session & Demos
  • Rock the Mic: Postdoc Fast Pitch
  • What We Know About COVID-19
  • Hey Briggie: The use of Artificial Intelligence to Improve Patient Safety and Experience
  • Committing to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Clinical Research: The Time is Now
  • Getting Ahead: Advances in Food and Drug Allergy
  • What’s Sex Got To Do With It? Risk and Management of Autoimmune Disease
Ann Wooley, MD highlights the Brigham’s role in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Awards and Prize Winners

One of the sessions held at Discover Brigham was the exciting Postdoc Fast Pitch, during which four brave postdoctoral fellows pitched their projects to an audience. The $1,000 prize was decided by audience vote and the recipient of this prize was Jessica Williams, BS, MSc, PhD, a research fellow in Surgery and Cardiac Surgery who won with her project, “The Effect of Artery Shape on Patient Risk.”

Discover Brigham in the Media

This year, we were thrilled to see attendees from The Boston Globe, WBUR, Boston Herald, STAT News, and USA Today. The Boston Herald published an article highlighting the event, which was also featured on Channel 7 News.

Event Recap News

Congratulations Shark Tank Winners!

Athena Petrides, PhD and Joji Suzuki, MD were named the two winners of the McGraw Family Opioid Innovator Award. Out of the five projects pitched, Petrides and Suzuki were voted the winners, each receiving $50,000 to advance their work.

Since 2012, Brigham & Women’s Hospital has been hosting shark tanks to fund innovative and high-risk/high impact projects in the basic, clinical, digital and translational realms through its Health & Technology Innovation Awards. Sponsored by the Brigham Research Institute (BRI) and the BWH Health & Technology Subcommittee, these awards aim to advance projects that have the potential to make an impact in one or more of the following domains – biomedical research, healthcare delivery, the generation of new companies/products/services, cost savings, care quality and provider burnout. Since 2012, more than $1 million has been distributed to BWH investigators through these awards.

This year, with the generous support of the McGraw Family, this cycle’s Request for Applications includes a special track focused on advancing innovations related to solving the opioid crisis which has resulted in the loss of over 2000 lives in the past year in Massachusetts alone. Novel ideas that seek to address questions and challenges related to the opioid epidemic including, but not limited to, research on addiction, adverse effects, alternate pain management strategies, genetic susceptibility to opioid abuse, new tools for opioid research, diagnosis/treatment, management of infectious diseases related to opioid abuse, withdrawal, personalized medicine will be awarded.

Shark Tank Winner

Athena Petrides, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pathology, BWH

DigiToxRX: Treating Pain is No Longer Painful

Interpreting urine toxicology results is a time-consuming and complex task for clinicians prescribing opioids. Approximately 500 toxicology results are misinterpreted annually at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, potentially leading to inappropriate opioid refills and discontinuation of appropriate opioid treatment. DigiToxRx offers a complete solution, which encompasses a novel testing methodology paired with software that automates personalized toxicology interpretations. Our recent study demonstrated that personalized interpretations improved clinician confidence in result review by 34% and increased the speed of review by 46%. Financial support of DigiToxRx will allow us to automate personalized interpretations and to scale this service across Partners and potentially other healthcare systems.

Shark Tank Winner

Joji Suzuki, MD, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, BWH

Pilot Study of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of opioid use disorder

Research has shown that buprenorphine (suboxone) reduces the risk of overdose among individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) by up to 70%. However, 50% of patients will leave treatment in the first 6 months, partly due to the emergence of strong cravings in response to cues. Recent animal and human studies demonstrate that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-addictive constituent of marijuana, helps to blunt the cravings that emerge after exposure to cues. Our team propose to conduct a pilot study to determine if CBD will reduce cue-induced cravings among OUD patients currently taking buprenorphine. If successful, this study will lay the groundwork for a NIH-funded study to conduct a series of human trials with CBD for OUD patients as an adjunct to buprenorphine treatment.

Other Finalists

Peter Chai, MD, MMS, Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine, BWH

Enabling smart sewers to measure community level opioid and naloxone consumption

Christopher W. Connor, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology, BWH

Imaging opioid effects, tolerance and addiction in C. elegans

R. Jason Yong, MD, MBA, Instructor, Anesthesiology, BWH

Smart Pill Dispenser to Enhance Opioid Compliance and Patient Outcomes

Event Recap Events News

Networking for Academics: Conquering the Fear Factor

An event co-sponsored by the BRI and MassBio

Why is networking important in an academic setting? Is it necessary? Can a self-proclaimed introvert successfully network and build relationships?

This panel discussion, moderated by Frank S. David, MD, PhD, illustrated why networking is a great way to create and maintain relationships that will provide professional and educational opportunities for months and even years to come. The panelists focused on the “how” and the “why” behind networking while imparting words of wisdom to the group, each adding their own unique perspective to the conversation.

Sandro Santagata, MD, PhD pointed out that while he does not consider himself a “networker,” he understands that it is crucial to be open and collaborative. Even introverts like himself can organically create strong relationships simply through working with others and maintaining an open mind.

Elena Aikawa, MD, PhD advised the crowd to join small societies because it offers people the chance to interact and make themselves visible among a tight-knit and potentially less intimidating group. Career development, promotion, and job changes will undoubtedly call for more than one letter of support and recommendation; it is critical to have a strong band of people to connect with and be able to rely on.

Erin McKenna, MBA emphasized the beauty of networking, in that you can never predict what may come from countless random, or planned, interactions. One simple conversation over the most trivial common interest has the potential to lead to a promotion, new career path, or partnership.

Natalie Artzi, PhD stated the importance of branching out and gaining exposure in every way possible. The more you do that, the more opportunity there will be. At the same time, remember to expand your network to those outside of your specific interests, fields, and studies. Find people that can compliment your skills and help you to grow.

The panelists made it clear that everyone needs mentors and sponsors; everyone needs someone to help them get places they never thought they could. Networking is essential in creating these types of opportunities. Any conversation, any connection no matter how small, can aid in career development and help to carry you through the next steps in life. Equally as important, these relationships must be maintained, groomed, and properly cared for over an extended period. Keep in touch, invite them to your lab space, send them an email or a letter. No matter how you do it, networking cannot live on its own. Without tending to it, the bonds will weaken, and the connections, and opportunities that go along with them, will be lost as quickly as they were gained.

Social media is one way to maintain these meaningful relationships. Br. David brought Twitter and LinkedIn into the conversation. These platforms offer a way to exemplify best qualities, demonstrate hobbies outside of the office or lab, and disseminate information to a relevant audience.

Before the Q&A and networking commenced, Dr. David ended the discussion by encouraging the audience to “be the change that they want to be.” Whether you are introverted, extroverted, struggle to connect to others, or shy away from social media, make the changes that will allow you to create opportunity, build lasting relationships, and develop your ever-growing career paths.

Event Recap Events News

Taipei Delegation to Partners Healthcare

Friday, May 31st, 2:30 – 4:00pm in the Hale VTC Conference Room


(Above) BWH faculty members pose with officials from the Taipei Ministries of Science & Technology and Health, officers from the Taipei Economic & Cultural Offices (Boston/D.C) and other members of the recent Taipei delegation to Partners Healthcare


(Above) Dr. Dar-Bin Hsieh, Deputy Minister, Taipei Ministry of Science & Technology with Dr. Joseph Bonventre, Chief, Renal Division, BWH


(Above) Dr. Dar-Bin Hsieh, Deputy Minister, Taipei Ministry of Science & Technology with Dr. Joseph Bonventre, Chief, Renal Division, BWH



(Above) Dr. Joseph Bonventre, Chief, Renal Division, BWH talking about his research in regenerative medicine to members of the recent Taipei delegation to Partners Healthcare

Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders Event Recap News

8th Annual Obesity Research Incubator Session Event Recap

Friday, May 10, 2019 2:00 – 5:30pm, Hale Building for Transformative Medicine 

On Friday May 10th, nearly 100 researchers and clinicians from over 20 institutions gathered at BWH to share ideas, promote cross-collaborative research efforts and identify new areas for further investigation to address the challenging public health crisis caused by obesity. This 8th annual symposium commenced with short talks by selected junior speakers, all of whom received an award of $500. They were followed by keynote speaker, Caroline Apovian, MD, who gave an outstanding overview of the key research discoveries that have made significant contributions to the way obesity is treated in the clinic. This was followed by an electronic poster session featuring 30 presentations covering a broad range of research addressing many different aspects of obesity. Four posters stood out among the rest and were awarded prizes of $250.

This event is a great opportunity for investigators meet colleagues, learn what they are working on and set the foundation for future collaborations. If you were not able to join us this time, we hope to see you next year.

Keynote Speaker

Translating Obesity Research to the Practice of Obesity Medicine 

Caroline Apovian, MD, Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine 

Poster Winners

Leveraging Immunometabolic Control to Prevent and Treat Obesity Related Asthma

Furkan Burak, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Hepatocyte p53 ablation induces metabolic dysregulation that is corrected by food restriction and vertical sleeve gastrectomy

Bethany Cummings, DVM, PhD, Cornell University

Inhibiting Mitochondrial Fission Enhances Mitochondrial Respiratory Capacity and Insulin Signaling in Culture Myotubes Derived from Obese Humans

Benjamin Kugler, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston

The contribution of obesity to adult initiation of chronic prescription opioid use in the US: Results from MEPS, 2000 – 2015

Dielle Lundberg, Boston University School of Public Health

Selected Speakers

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation by Oral Capsules for the Treatment of Obesity: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Trials

Jessica Allegretti, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Identification of novel microbe-metabolome signatures associated with insulin sensitivity in mice

Jennifer Lee, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Investigating how the source of dietary fat shapes the anti-chancer immune response in obesity

Lydia Lynch, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Event Recap Events News

Harvard Health Innovation Network (HHIN) Science Slam Success!

On April 18th, the BRI co-hosted a Science Slam with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and other institutions that comprise the Harvard Health Innovation Network (HHIN). The event was held at Daedalus Restaurant and Bar and was part of the Cambridge Science Festival.

HHIN members, colleagues, friends and family gathered to hear several brave “slammers” test their skills as science and/or health care communicators by pitching their research and innovations to the crowd. A range of original and inventive topics from impassioned researchers populated the restaurant. Each presenter had just three minutes to grab the audience’s attention and engage them with their focus area. Yielding to the “no PowerPoint policy,” slammers were left to battle it out with just their brains, presentation skills and props, if they so desired.

Laura Kiesel, a freelance writer from the Harvard Health news blog, impressed the crowd with her thoughts on chronic pain, and won the Science Slam, receiving a fun prize pack from the hosts. Her work has made appearances in publications such as The Guardian, Salon and The Atlantic, and she is truly passionate about chronic pain and related health conditions. Her innovative ideas on the topic helped bring her to the top of the lighthearted competition, yet every slammer must be commended for the courage they had in pitching their ideas in such an unusual environment.

The BRI and HHIN hope to continue bringing researchers and their fascinating ideas forward to the public who may not hear them otherwise. Our goal is to raise awareness to the amazing research that takes place within our institutions and opening people’s eyes to all that goes on behind the scenes in the vast world of health care.

Event Recap Events News

Second Session: Cross Departmental Affinity Group for Machine Learning Applied to Radiological Imaging

Wednesday, March 13, 10:00am – 12:30pm, Zinner Breakout Room

Over 40 registrants attended this second affinity group meeting for machine learning applied to radiological imaging. Made possible by the BRI NextGen awards, this event will occur quarterly to focus on machine learning methods as applied to research. The meeting began with formal talks from Tina Kapur, PhD, Kirti Magufa, MD, Irfanullah Haider, MD, and Jeff Duryea, PhD.  The speakers offered their expertise from their diverse scientific backgrounds on subject matter such as image-based deep learning, datasets, and predicting disease states.  Attendees and speakers talked freely of shared challenges and how they could collectively overcome them.

During the lunch and open discussion that followed, there was a strong desire for a common platform that would allow researchers currently applying machine learning to their work or those who are interested in doing so to better connect and collaborate with each other. Several audience members spoke positively of collaborations that came about because of the first affinity group meeting and wanted this trend to continue. Plans for future meetings are already in the works. If you were unable to attend this session, keep an eye out for the next quarterly gathering!

NOTE: If you are interested in becoming involved with this group, please contact Jeff Duryea, PhD, Dept. of Radiology ( or Jamie Collins, PhD, Dept. of Orthopedics (


Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders Event Recap News

Hypoxia Research Symposium and Poster Session Recap

Friday, January 25th, 1:30 – 5:00PM, Zinner Breakout Room and Zinner Lobby 

The Brigham Research Institute’s (BRI) Cardiovascular, Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders (CVDM) research center hosted its first Hypoxia Research Symposium to bring together clinicians and scientists working on various topics related to this dangerous condition that can have damaging effects on many different organs and tissues. The event consisted of four short talks from selected abstracts, a keynote presentation from professor William Kaelin, MD of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and a poster session. An engaged and enthusiastic crowd of over 35 people attended the symposium where research from four departments and seven divisions was presented, highlighting the cross-collaborative nature of the topic.

Presenting on “The von Hippel-Lindau Tumor Suppressor Protein: Insights into Oxygen Sensing,” William Kaelin, MD, showcased several lines of research his lab has engaged in to elucidate the molecular underpinnings of cellular oxygen sensing. Spanning the divide from bench to bedside, his lab has made remarkable contributions to the field, including the identification of a druggable target to treat anemia:  an inhibitor of EglN1, a 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase, is currently being evaluated in clinical trials. The BRI and CVDM research center were honored to have such a highly regarded researcher serve as the keynote speaker.

During the poster session that followed the talks, two outstanding posters were awarded with a prize of $250. Each selected speaker was awarded with $500. Congratulations to the winners!

Poster Winners

Gregory Ekchian, PhD, MRI-Readable In Vivo Quantitative Oxygen Sensors

Paul Wrighton, PhD, Novel pH-sensitive biosensor zebrafish enable the in vivo visualization and enterrogation of mitophagy during development and metabolic stress

Selected Speakers

Brian Cade, PhD, Associations of Variants in the Hexokinase 1 and Interleukin 18 Receptor Regions with Oxyhemoglobin Saturation During Sleep

Huamei He, PhD, MD, L-2-Hydroxyglutarate Protects Against Myocardial Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury

Indranil Sinha, MD, Aging-Associated Loss of Hypoxia Signaling Limits Skeletal Muscle Regeneration

AKM Wara, PhD, CD4+ T Cell Deficiency of KLF10 Impairs Blood Flow and Neovascularization in Response to Tissue Hypoxia

Event Recap Events News

From Bench to Boardroom: Collaborative Research Opportunities Between Academia and Industry

Thursday, January 24th, 3:00 – 5:00pm, Zinner Breakout Room

This is the third session in a series of panels co-hosted by the Brigham Research Institute and MassBio, during which panelists from renowned drug and device companies shared their knowledge on ways in which BWH investigators can obtain funding and in-kind support for their research. Frank S. David, MD, PhD, Innovation Strategist at the BRI, Founder and Managing Director of Pharmagellan moderated the event. The three expert panelists included Michal Preminger, PhD, MBA, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Chandra Ramanathan, PhD, MBA, BP & Head, East Coast Innovation Bayer, and Jeffrey Warmke, Senior VP of Global Business Development, Daiichi Sankyo Group.

After a brief introduction of the panelists, as well as those in the audience, Dr. David kick-started the discussion by asking the panelists to give a brief overview of the academic collaboration models in place at their respective companies and how they are different from their peers in the industry. The collaboration strategies described by the companies ran the gamut from the focus on niche areas with no-strings-attached grants at Bayer to a wide range of therapeutic domains and a focus on disease prevention across the early discovery to late stage development continuum at J&J. Irrespective of the approach used, the panelists all agreed that their ultimate goal is to find “good medicine” and help to move it forward through mutually productive collaborations with academia.

They offered a few pro tips to the audience of investigators before the networking session commenced. First, if you would like to collaborate, anytime is the right time in terms of reaching out to prospective drug and device companies. Even if someone brings an idea forward that is too early or too incomplete, industry experts can still offer direction, suggestions, and valuable feedback. Second, you must keep knocking on the door. If you don’t push forward seemingly crazy ideas, then you are limiting yourself as well as the world of healthcare. Lastly, they opined that the makings of a good academic collaborator include strong communication skills, openness to sharing ideas and information, and the willingness to sustain long-term relationships. Events like these are an invaluable resource to our investigators across the hospital and we hope that you continue to attend!


Featured image from left to right:

Frank S. David, MD, PhD (Moderator), Michal Preminger, PhD, MBA (Panelist, J&J), Chandra Ramanathan, PhD, MBA (Panelist, Bayer), Jeffrey Warmke, PhD (Panelist, Daiichi Sankyo