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June Research Highlights

A Roundup of the Latest Medical Discoveries and Faculty News at Cedars-Sinai

COVID-19 Vaccination Reduced Disease Disparities Between Low- and High-Income Communities

COVID-19 vaccination helped reduce disparities in disease incidence between low- and high-income communities, according to a new analysis led by Cedars-Sinai investigators Timothy Daskovitch, MD, and Brennan Spiegel, MD, MSHS. While lower-income communities had lower vaccination rates than higher-income communities, the impact of vaccination on disease incidence was larger in lower-income communities. As a result, investigators say, vaccination led to reduced income-related disparities in COVID-19 incidence.  Read more> 


Novel Study Deepens Knowledge of Treatment-Resistant Hypertension

Novel research from investigators in the Smidt Heart Institute, published in Hypertension, found that apparent resistant hypertension prevalence (aRH) was lower in a real-world sample than previously reported, but still relatively frequent—affecting nearly 1 in 10 hypertensive patients. Through their analysis, investigators, led by Joseph Ebinger, MD, also learned that patients with well-managed aRH were more likely to be treated with a commonplace medication called mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, or MRA. These MRA treatments were used in 34% of patients with controlled aRH, but only 11% of patients with uncontrolled aRH. Read more> 


Distinguished Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist Joins Cedars-Sinai

Leo Mascarenhas, MD, MS, an internationally recognized pediatric hematologist-oncologist and sarcoma expert, has been appointed director of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s and as medical director of the Sarcoma Program at Cedars-Sinai Cancer. Mascarenhas, who joins Cedars-Sinai in January 2024, also will serve as a senior investigator in the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute Cancer Therapeutics Program and as a professor of Pediatrics at Guerin Children’s. Read more> 


Loss of Y Chromosome in Men Enables Cancer to Grow

As men age, some of their cells lose the very thing that makes them biological males—the Y chromosome—and this loss hampers the body’s ability to fight cancer, according to new research from Cedars-Sinai Cancer. The study, led by Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, and Hany Abdel-Hafiz, PhD,  and published in the leading scientific journal Nature, found that loss of the Y chromosome helps cancer cells evade the body’s immune system. This common impact of the aging process in men results in aggressive bladder cancer, but somehow also renders the disease more vulnerable—and responsive—to a standard treatment called immune checkpoint inhibitors. Read more>


Uncovering a Cellular Process That Leads to Inflammation

Cedars-Sinai investigators have identified several steps in a cellular process responsible for triggering one of the body’s important inflammatory responses. Their findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Immunology, open up possibilities for modulating the type of inflammation associated with several infections and inflammatory diseases. Specifically, the investigators, led by Andrea Wolf, PhD, have improved understanding of the steps that lead to the production of IL-1 beta, a potent inflammatory protein signal released during many inflammatory responses. Read more>


Cedars-Sinai Neurology Chair Honored by National MS Society for COVID-19 Work

Early in the pandemic, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease, were thought to possibly be at higher-than-average risk for COVID-19. It turns out they are not more vulnerable, but it was a confusing time for many patients. Nancy Sicotte, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology and the Women’s Guild Distinguished Chair in Neurology at Cedars-Sinai, has been lauded for her work at the nexus of COVID-19 and MS. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society presented her with its 2022 Inspiration Award, which honors individuals for their passion and dedication to the MS community. Read more> 


New Book Celebrates Legacy of Distinguished Medical Historian

A group of renowned scholars have authored a new book honoring the illustrious career of Mordechai Feingold, PhD, a distinguished historian at the California Institute of Technology who is known for his work on the history of science. Collected Wisdom of the Early Modern Scholar: Essays in Honor of Mordechai Feingold contains essays on topics related to Feingold’s scholarship. The project was led and edited by Gideon Manning, PhD, director of Cedars-Sinai’s History of Medicine Program in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and Anne Marie Roos, PhD, professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Lincoln in the U.K. Read more> 


New Surgery Chair Leads with Collaboration

She never wanted to be a surgeon. Then in medical school she discovered that she belonged in the operating arena: the teamwork, the challenge, the problem-solving and helping patients all thrilled her. Today, Cristina R. Ferrone, MD, is an accomplished surgical oncologist and chair of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Surgery. A specialist in the care of patients with complex hepato-pancreaticobiliary disease, she has pioneered novel minimally invasive surgical techniques and developed immunotherapeutic strategies for treating cancers of the pancreas, liver and biliary system. Read more> 


Study: Heart Attack Outcomes Far Worse for Those With COVID-19

New research from the Smidt Heart Institute shows that patients who went to a hospital with a heart attack and were simultaneously sick with COVID-19 were three times more likely to die than patients experiencing a heart attack without a COVID-19 infection. The study—led by Martha Gulati, MD, and published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Problems in Cardiology—also found that the Black, Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander patients who had both COVID-19 and an acute myocardial infarction (AMI)—the medical term for a heart attack—fared worse than their white counterparts. Read more> 


Higher Stress Levels May Cause Weight Gain in Women

Women have long reported higher stress levels than men. This may be due in part to psychological and biological gender differences in the stress response. The resulting higher cortisol levels in women may lead to anxiety-related weight gain and cause obesity-associated metabolic disturbances. But what causes these higher cortisol levels in women? And what does the human sense of smell have to do with it? These are two of the questions that Celine Riera, PhD, research scientist at Cedars-Sinai’s Regenerative Medicine Institute, hopes to answer with her project, “Influence of Olfactory Stressors on Female Metabolic Health,” which was awarded a grant from Cedars-Sinai’s Center for Research in Women’s Health and Sex Differences. Read more> 


Rubenstein Award for Excellence in Resident Research Named

The 2023 Cedars-Sinai Rubenstein Award for Excellence in Resident Research has been awarded to Cecilia Leggett, MD, for her work with point-of-care ultrasound using personal devices; and Anthony Nguyen, MD, PhD, for his cancer research on the tumor microenvironment in triple-negative breast cancer. The annual award, which includes a $3,000 cash prize, aims to foster basic and clinical research, enrich knowledge, and encourage the development of investigative curiosity in residents from across Cedars-Sinai Read more>            


The Future of Research: Studying Human Organs and Diseases on a Chip

Replicating human organs using stem cells and lab-on-a-chip technology can revolutionize the way diseases and potential treatments are studied, according to two new papers by Cedars-Sinai investigators, led by Arun Sharma, PhD, senior and corresponding author on both publications. Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into many different cell types. A lab-on-a-chip is a miniaturized laboratory system that can be used to create a multidimensional organ model. Read more>


Cedars-Sinai Selects James Jones as Chief Nursing Informatics Officer

Following a nationwide search, Cedars-Sinai has appointed James Jones, MHA, MSN, NEA-BC, RN-BC, as the inaugural chief nursing informatics officer. Jones will be responsible for the integration of nursing and healthcare informatics across all care settings within Cedars-Sinai Medical CenterCedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, Huntington Health and the Academic Enterprise. Read more>       


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