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September Research Highlights

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

Cristina R. Ferrone, MD, Named Chair of Cedars-Sinai Department of Surgery

Following an extensive national search, Cedars-Sinai has appointed Cristina R. Ferrone, MD, as chair of the Department of Surgery. Currently a professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of the Office of Clinical Careers for Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Ferrone will assume her new position in January 2023. Read more>


Smidt Heart Institute Welcomes New Director of Preventive Cardiology

Martha Gulati, MD, an expert in preventive cardiology and women’s heart disease, has joined the Smidt Heart Institute as director of Preventive Cardiology, associate director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and associate director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center in the Department of Cardiology. Read more>


Cedars-Sinai Cancer Leaders Assume New Roles

Lali Medina-Kauwe, PhD, former co-leader of the Cancer Biology Program in Cedars-Sinai Cancer, has assumed a new role as associate director for Basic Research. The Cancer Biology Program will now be led by Dolores Di Vizio, MD, PhD, professor of Biomedical Sciences, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Department of Surgery, and Xue Sean Li, PhD, professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Read more>


Hispanic and Black Patients Less Likely to Receive Curative Treatment for Early-Stage Liver Cancer

Hispanic and Black patients are less likely than white patients to receive treatments known to cure a type of liver cancer called intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, according to a study by Ju Dong Yang, MD. Published in Cancer, the study reports that Hispanic patients were 57% less likely and Black patients were 47% less likely than white patients to receive these treatments. Read more>


Cerebral Embolic Protection During Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Replacement

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that among patients with aortic stenosis undergoing transfemoral TAVR, the use of a debris capturing device called cerebral embolic protection reduced the risk of disabling stroke from 1.3% to 0.5%. Cedars-Sinai, under the leadership of Raj Makkar, MD, was the largest enroller in the clinical trial. Read more>


AI Shown to More Rapidly and Objectively Determine Calcium Scores Than Physicians

A study published in the JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging shows that artificial intelligence tools can more rapidly, and objectively, determine calcium scores in CT and PET images than physicians, even when obtained from very-low-radiation CT attenuation scans. Piotr Slomka, PhD, a research scientist in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, is the senior author. Read more>


Active Surveillance an Effective Option for Thyroid Cancer

A novel clinical trial shows that active surveillance is an effective treatment for many low-risk thyroid cancer patients. The study, led by Allen Ho, MD, and Wendy Sacks, MD, also showed for the first time that patients who opted for active surveillance experienced less anxiety than patients who underwent surgery. The findings, published in JAMA Oncology, swing the pendulum toward a less-invasive approach to treating thyroid cancer. Read more>


Artificial Intelligence & Alzheimer’s Disease

With help from an $8M grant from the NIH, Cedars-Sinai investigators from the Department of Computational Biomedicine are studying new AI and machine learning methods to see how they can be applied to find new biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease. The centerpiece of the research is software developed by Jason H. Moore, PhD, that uses AI to help people make sense of what can be an intimidating number of choices when looking at ways to analyze data. Read more>


Study: Patients Prefer Stool Test to Colonoscopy

Cedars-Sinai investigators found three-quarters of people prefer to do a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) rather than a colonoscopy for their regular colorectal cancer screening. Understanding that there are more options like the less-time-consuming and less-invasive FIT could persuade more people to get lifesaving screenings, according to study author Christopher V. Almario, MD, MSHPM. The study was published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Read more>


Cardiac Rehab Facilities Too Far for Many Residents of Los Angeles County, Study Reports

Racial and ethnic minorities in L.A. County are more likely to live as far as or farther than five miles from a cardiac rehabilitation facility, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Black people are almost three times more likely to live five miles or more from a facility. The study was led by Joseph E. Ebinger, MD, and Susan Cheng, MD, MPH. Read more> 


Pharmacology Researcher to Lead Cancer Diversity, Inclusion Program

James Turkson, PhD, professor in the Division of Medical Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, has been appointed to a new role developed at Cedars-Sinai Cancer: director for Diversity, Inclusion and Strategy. His ultimate goal is to create a national model of what diversity, equity and inclusion can look like for cancer researchers, clinicians and patients. Read more>


Cedars-Sinai Medical Network Selects Jill Martin as Executive Vice President

Jill Martin has been tapped to lead the Cedars-Sinai Medical Network as its new executive vice president, effective Nov. 30. Martin, who has been an executive leader at Cedars-Sinai over the past 25 years, has been a key factor in the growth and development of the Medical Network, as well as its integration with the rest of Cedars-Sinai and its affiliates. Read more>


Leading Vascular Surgeon Named Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs

Ali Azizzadeh, MD, an internationally recognized vascular surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, has been appointed associate dean of Faculty Affairs. In his new role, Azizzadeh will provide strategic guidance and support for faculty members, playing a key role in appointments, promotions and academic career development. Read more> 


Stem Cell-Gene Therapy Shows Promise in ALS Safety Trial

Cedars-Sinai investigators, led by Clive Svendsen, PhD, have developed an investigational therapy using support cells and a protective protein that can be delivered past the blood-brain barrier. This combined stem cell and gene therapy can potentially protect diseased motor neurons in the spinal cord of patients with ALS, a fatal neurological disorder. The findings were reported in the journal Nature Medicine. Read more> 


Cedars-Sinai Study Highlights Cancer Disparities in LA County

People in L.A. County experience differences in cancer risk and survival depending on a variety of factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geographic location and socioeconomic status, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Oncology. The team, led by Robert W. Haile, DrPH, MPH, identified 15 cancer disparities in L.A. County and is in the process of designing and carrying out interventions to address them. Read more> 


Cesarean Delivery May Contribute to Diabetes Risk in Adulthood

People born by C-section, versus those born vaginally, had a 58% increased risk of having prediabetes or diabetes, according to a new study. The findings, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society and led by Mark O. Goodarzi, MD, PhD, also found this group reported a higher BMI, elevated fasting blood sugar levels and decreased insulin sensitivity. Read more> 


Sex Differences and AFib: New Study Flips Conventional Wisdom

A new study from the Smidt Heart Institute shows women, when height is accounted for, are 50% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than men. The novel findings, published in the journal JAMA Cardiology and led by Christine Albert, MD, MPH, suggest medical practitioners must remain vigilant in promoting AFib prevention among both female and male patients. Read more> 


Cedars-Sinai Selects Pasy Wang as Vice President, Chief Investment Officer

Pasy Wang has been named the inaugural vice president and chief investment officer. In this newly created leadership role, Wang will design and manage Cedars-Sinai's investment portfolio to support organizational growth and critical patient care for the community. Wang comes to Cedars-Sinai from Caltech, where she served as senior managing director of investments. Read more>


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