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June Research Highlights

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

The Path to Heart Failure Is Different for Women

New research from the Smidt Heart Institute shows for the first time that the path toward heart failure differs for women and men. The important findings—discovered using a novel cardiac imaging technique developed by Cedars-Sinai researchers—were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Heart. The study was led by investigators Alan Kwan, MD, and Susan Cheng, MD, MPH. Read more>


How Tumors Make Immune Cells ‘Go Bad’

Investigators from Cedars-Sinai Cancer have discovered that cancerous tumors called soft-tissue sarcomas produce a protein that switches immune cells from tumor-attacking to tumor-promoting. The study, led by Jlenia Guarnerio, PhD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology and Biomedical Sciences, and published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports, could lead to improved treatments for soft-tissue sarcomas. Read more>


Study Uncovers New Treatment Approaches for Liver Cancer Patients

Preliminary studies suggest that targeting a newly identified immune checkpoint pathway could lead to better understanding of hepatocellular carcinoma and paves the way for new immune-based therapies. The study, led by Ekaterina Koltsova, MD, PhD, of Cedars-Sinai Cancer and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, was published in the journal Cancer Discovery. Read more>


NIH Grant Will Fund Invention of New AI Tools

A $7 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will help Smidt Heart Institute scientists create tools to predict serious cardiac conditions. The team, led by Piotr Slomka, PhD, director of Innovation in Imaging and professor of Cardiology in the Division of Artificial Intelligence, will establish a new program to develop data tools that will help predict which patients could experience heart attacks, heart failure and other cardiac condition. Read more>


Cedars-Sinai Transplant Clinicians Earn National Recognition

Two physician leaders from the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center have been honored by two prestigious national groups. Irene Kim, MD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center, received a Woman of the Year award for California’s 28th Congressional District from U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, while former Director Andrew Klein, MD, MBA, has been selected for membership into the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars. Read more>


David M. Wrigley Named Chief Financial Officer

David M. Wrigley has been promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cedars-Sinai Health System. Wrigley also will serve as treasurer of Cedars-Sinai Health System, and as secretary of the finance and investment committees of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Board of Directors. Wrigley will lead financial operations, technology transfer and other critical functions for Cedars-Sinai Health System. Read more>


Study Shows Hormones Contribute to Sex Disparities in Bladder Cancer

Male sex hormones interfere with the body’s ability to fight bladder cancer, likely explaining why males experience higher cancer rates and more deadly disease, according to a study led by Cedars-Sinai Cancer investigator Xue Li, PhD. These findings, published in Science Immunology, represent a step toward unraveling why disparities in cancer exist between males and females. Read more>


Variable Blood Pressure Associated With Cardiovascular Risk

Blood pressure variability is linked with heart attacks, stroke, narrowing of the arteries and other cardiovascular events, according to a new study led by Joseph Ebinger, MD, director of Clinical Analytics in the Smidt Heart Institute. The findings, published in eClinicalMedicine, suggest clinicians should take patients' blood pressure fluctuations into account when considering their cardiovascular risk. Read more>


Health of Gut Microbiome: Hormone Therapy and Smoking

Two studies from investigators in the MAST program at Cedars-Sinai looked at the impact hormone therapy and smoking had on the microbiome. The first study, led by Ruchi Mathur, MD, and published in Menopause, found postmenopausal women receiving hormone therapy had changes in their small intestinal microbiome. The second study, published in Scientific Reports, documented the negative impact smoking has on the composition of the microbiome. Read more>


Broken Heart Syndrome Versus Myocarditis

Researchers have discovered that the stress-related heart condition Takotsubo cardiomyopathy carries a significantly greater risk of death than myocarditis, a condition previously thought to be the more serious of the two. The findings could inspire physicians to take more time distinguishing between these conditions. The study was led by Alan Kwan, MD, a cardiac imaging specialist in the Smidt Heart Institute, and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Read more>


Zinc Found to Play an Important Role in Lung Fibrosis

A team of researchers led by Paul Noble, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Women’s Guild Lung Institute, have discovered that zinc, a common mineral, may reverse lung damage and improve survival for patients with a deadly age-related condition known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Their findings, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, have the potential to change the landscape of treatment for patients with this disease. Read more>


Black, Hispanic Patients Less Likely to Get Lifesaving Liver Cancer Treatment

A study led by Ju Dong Yang, MD, medical director of the Liver Cancer Program, and published in the journal Hepatology, found Black and Hispanic patients diagnosed with advanced liver cancer were significantly less likely to receive immunotherapy compared with white patients, even though immunotherapy is more effective than the traditional treatment of chemotherapy. Read more>


National Leader in Cardiac Surgery Quality and Research Joins Cedars-Sinai

Michael Bowdish, MD, MS, a national leader in cardiac surgery and among a handful of cardiac surgeons continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for a decade, has been appointed vice chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery in the Smidt Heart Institute. Bowdish will spearhead systemwide quality and research programs in cardiac surgery. Read more> 


Lung Cancer Therapy Could Help Patients Live Longer

Results of a Phase II clinical trial led by Karen L. Reckamp, MD, director of Medical Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, indicate that an immunotherapy drug combination could extend the lives of those diagnosed with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, one of the most common forms of lung cancer. The research was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, with simultaneous publication in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read more> 


Counting Cancerous Lymph Nodes Is Best Predictor of Mortality Across Nearly All Cancers

A new study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, shows that counting cancerous lymph nodes could be a reliable predictor of mortality across nearly all cancer types. The study, led by Zachary S. Zumsteg, MD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, can potentially improve and simplify how most solid cancers are staged. Read more>


Brain Cell Activity Plays Critical Role in Central Nervous System Disorder Outcomes  

A study led by Joshua Burda, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, demonstrates astrocytes use specialized collections of molecules to shape disorder-specific changes in their molecular profiles. This discovery, detailed in the journal Nature, can help lead to the development of a broad range of new therapies for a variety of CNS conditions. Read more> 


Data Expert Is Cedars-Sinai’s New Vice Chair of Computational Biomedicine

Graciela Gonzalez-Hernandez, PhD, has been named vice chair of Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Computational Biomedicine. In this position, Gonzalez-Hernandez will focus on collaborating with investigators across the Cedars-Sinai Health System and expanding Cedars-Sinai’s artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities. Read more> 


Cedars-Sinai Investigators ID Gene Critical to Human Immune Response

Cedars-Sinai investigators have identified a gene that plays an essential role in the innate human immune system. The gene, NLRP11, helps activate the inflammatory response that tells the body’s white blood cells to go on the attack against a foreign presence. The study, published in Nature Immunology, was led by Christian Stehlik, PhD and Andrea Dorfleutner, PhD. Read more> 


New Combined Therapy Helps Extend Lives of Men With Prostate Cancer

Research from Howard Sandler, MD, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, shows that a combination of androgen deprivation therapy—a commonly used hormone injection—plus pelvic lymph node radiation, kept nearly 90% of clinical trial patients’ prostate cancer at bay for five years. The findings were published in The Lancet. Read more> 


Leader in Diabetes Care and Technologies Joins Cedars-Sinai

Roma Gianchandani, MD, has joined Cedars-Sinai as the new medical director of Diabetes Quality and vice chair of Quality and Innovation. In this role, Gianchandani will focus on inpatient diabetes care and new insulin management tools, integrating technology’s best practices for managing hospitalized patients with diabetes so physicians are able to troubleshoot and make changes in a relatively short amount of time. Read more>


History of Migraines Points to Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

New research led by investigators in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai found pregnant women who reported a history of migraines had 26% higher rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly hypertensive disorders and preterm birth. The study, led by Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, director of Hypertension Research in the Smidt Heart Institute, was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Read more>


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