Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

September 21, 2016
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Sherman Prize winners include IBD pioneers from Pitt, Penn, NYU

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The Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation has announced the winners of its inaugural Sherman Prize for Excellence in Crohn’s and Colitis, acknowledging their achievements in advancing patient care, medical research and public service in inflammatory bowel disease.

The winners include Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Total Care-IBD Program and associate professor of psychiatry, medicine and pediatrics in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, professor of medicine and epidemiology and associate director of the IBD Program at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; and Lea Ann Chen, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and attending physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

Eva Szigethy, MD, PhD

Eva Szigethy

“Through their work developing innovative psychosocial care models, advancing the understanding of IBD and its treatment, and providing superior care to underserved patients, Drs. Szigethy, Lewis, and Chen are at the vanguard of improving health outcomes for people with IBD,” Bruce Sherman, founder of the annual prize, said in a press release. “As a parent of children with Crohn’s, I’m thankful for the relentless dedication of these Sherman Prize recipients and excited to provide funding to help them advance their important research and care initiatives.”

Szigethy will receive $100,000 for her work in integrating behavioral health into comprehensive care for IBD patients. She built the nation’s first behavioral health program for children with IBD at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and recreated the model for adults by founding the Visceral Inflammation and Pain Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center IBD Center. Her work has shown that integrating psychological and psychiatric services in the medical care of patients improves health outcomes and reduces costs, according to the press release.

“Early on in my career, I was struck by the level of unaddressed emotional distress faced by people with IBD, and set my goal to show that behavioral treatment could improve their quality of life,” she said in the press release. “I look forward to using the Sherman Prize funding to further explore the relationship between the inflammatory biomarkers of IBD, genetic markers, GI symptoms, and psychiatric symptoms to better understand the treatment of psychiatric co-morbidities of IBD.”

James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE

James D. Lewis

Lewis will also receive $100,000 for his work in optimizing medical therapies for IBD patients, which has most recently focused on the role of diet and the gut microbiome in the course of IBD and treatment alternatives to systemic immunosuppression. He is also leading the creation of IBD Plexus, an information exchange platform that aims to standardize data collection and sharing for researchers.

“Until we have a cure, I will continue to study ways to optimize current treatments and develop less toxic therapies — potentially including dietary changes — to help patients control their IBD and enjoy a better quality of life,” he said in the press release.

Lea Ann Chen, MD

Lea Ann Chen

Finally, Chen will receive the $25,000 Sherman Emerging Leader Prize for her research, advocacy and care coordination efforts with diverse and underserved IBD patient populations. Her work has identified knowledge gaps in IBD management and has contributed to the understanding of the gut microbiome’s role in IBD.

“I’m very grateful to the Sherman Prize committee for helping to continue our work caring for the diverse, underserved patients at Bellevue and conducting research initiatives that we hope will improve clinical outcomes of future patients with IBD,” she said in the press release.

The winners were selected by the Sherman Prize Board of Directors with guidance from leading IBD experts on the Sherman Prize Selection Committee, according to the press release.