Awardees & Updates – 2014

2014 FWW Research Award

Recipient Dr. Harland Winter, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, will study the role of intestinal microbiome in intestinal and hepatic inflammation. This study will test women with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), is a chronic liver disease that slowly destroys bile ducts leading to cirrhosis and liver failure. PBC disproportionately affects women and there is no effective treatment for this deadly disease. PBC is associated with chronic colitis and a problem with the body’s immune system. Dr. Harland has successfully treated children and adolescents suffering from a similar disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) by using vancomycin (an antibiotic) to return and maintain liver function to normal. The goal of this proposal is to determine if the microbiome in the intestine is different in patients who have fibrosis or cirrhosis from PBC or PSC; and if the microbiome is producing substances that may promote fibrosis in the liver. This cross-disciplinary pilot study may provide information that could lead to new, innovative treatment strategies for PBC and PSC.

Dr. Winters is the Director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He is an internationally regarded physician and accomplished researcher and professor having authored numerous published research and books on subjects related to IBD. FWW is hopeful that this innovative, cross-discipline pilot study will lead to developing a treatment for women with PBC.

2014 FWW Research Award

Recipient Dr.Giselle Melendez, MD of Wake Forest School of Medicine will study “Substance P: a potential therapeutic target to prevent cardiomyopathy induced by chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer.” Chemotherapy drug doxorubicin (Dox) is the drug of choice for breast cancer patients in late premenopause or early perimenopause because of its effectiveness. However, Dox is known to have significant cardiotoxic side effects that may lead to heart failure within 1 to 7 years. This study seeks to determine whether pretreatment with the NK-1 receptor antagonist prevents or attenuates the establishment and/or progression of extracellular matrics (ECM), which is essential to maintain cardiac health. This study may provide new information to improve treatment of certain breast cancer survivors’ long-term health prognosis.

Dr. Melendez is an Instructor in the internal medicine department of cardiology and pathology-comparative medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Melendez has extensive publishing and research success for this stage in her career.