Faculty Awards (continued)

Cincinnati Children's celebrated outstanding faculty members on February 19. Congratulations to our honorees and to all who were nominated by their peers.

Basic Science Research Achievement Award

Takanori Takebe, MD, MEd

Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Takanori Takebe, MD, has a remarkable record of innovation and scientific productivity, with national and international recognition for his pioneering work using human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to engineer miniature liver organoids to model pathogenesis of human diseases.

Takebe is a highly creative physician-scientist who designed and executed his own research project as a medical student at the Yokohama City University, which showed how iPSCs undergo differentiation and assemble a liver organoid when co-cultured with mesenchymal and endothelial cells.

He joined Cincinnati Children's in 2016, established his laboratory, built a research group, and started a trajectory of highly innovative research independently and in collaboration with investigators at Cincinnati Children's and other institutions. He played a key role in the establishment of a Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM) and currently serves as the director of Commercial Innovation.

Takebe's creativity and original research have been recognized through the receipt of several prestigious awards, including the Robertson Investigator Award from the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

Basic Science Research Achievement Award

Aaron Zorn, PhD

Division of Developmental Biology

Aaron Zorn, PhD, is a highly accomplished developmental biologist and a globally recognized leader in the field of organ development. He has transformed developmental biology through his pioneering approaches using model organisms like Xenopus and mouse in concert with human pluripotent stem cells to understand the molecular basis of human birth defects.

Zorn's most important accomplishments stem from his sage-like ability to identify centrally important questions about how organs form in the developing embryo and then using cutting-edge technologies to identify the molecular basis of normal and deranged organ development. The impact of his research spans across multiple organs of both the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Over the past two decades, his research has provided incalculable insight into our basic understanding of how organs form in the embryo.

In the 20 years since the establishment of the Division of Developmental Biology, there is not another faculty member who has contributed more to our understanding of the molecular basis of organ development than Zorn.

Clinical/Translational Research Achievement Award

Katherine Auger, MD, MSc

Katherine Auger, MD, MSc, is an exceptional physician-scientist with a substantial national reputation for her scholarship.

Auger's research examines the impact of policy on children. While her largest portfolio of research evaluates policy- and hospital-level interventions to reduce pediatric readmission, when state leaders nationwide closed schools this spring, she assembled a team to evaluate if this policy action improved COVID-19 outcomes. Her research found that school closure was associated with a significant decline in COVID-19 incidence and mortality. These findings were featured in the "New York Times" and "USA Today."

Auger is a prolific scientist. To date, she has published more than 50 original science publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has had multiple national speaking invitations and has been awarded two prestigious national awards for outstanding research.

In addition to her published scholarship, Auger has a substantial record of outstanding mentorship of students, fellows and junior faculty.

Clinical/Translational Research Achievement Award

Roger Cornwall, MD

Division of Orthopaedic Surgery

Roger Cornwall, MD, is a practicing orthopaedic hand surgeon and clinician who has developed a highly successful and impactful research program.

Cornwall's thoughtful progression of novel concepts have led him down a path that has produced paradigm-changing research. This research not only impacts two of the most common conditions in pediatric orthopaedics (brachial plexus palsy and cerebral palsy), but also the field of basic muscle biology.

As a surgeon-scientist, he takes call, runs clinics and performs elective and trauma surgery. He is a reviewer for seven journals and a grant reviewer for five organizations. He is involved in numerous professional societies and has been a key member on the safety and quality work at Cincinnati Children's. He has written over 100 scientific articles, chapters and reviews. He has also just released the first-ever textbook on pediatric hand trauma.

It is uncommon for a clinically busy practicing orthopaedic surgeon to build and run a laboratory, but to persevere and be successful in such a scientifically and clinically impactful way is truly remarkable.

Research Team Award

Neurofibromatosis (NF) Program

Peter de Blank, MD, MSCE; Donald Gilbert, MD, MS; Tracy Glauser, MD; Robert Hopkin, MD; Trent Hummel, MD; Darcy Krueger, MD, PhD; Carlos Prada, MD; Joseph Pressey, MD; Nancy Ratner, PhD; Elizabeth Schorry, MD; Brian Weiss, MD; Jianqiang Wu, MD, MS

This extraordinary team has led a bench-to-bedside research program that has resulted in successful approval by the FDA of Selumetinib (now called Koselugo) for the treatment of Neurofibromatosis (NF1), a rare inherited disorder.

NF1 is a genetic disease with no current treatment options. Affected children develop brain tumors and brain dysfunction that can affect vision and tumors in the nerves outside the brain. Neurofibromatosis can be painful, cause a huge cosmetic burden, press on structures needed for breathing or bladder function, or become malignant lethal sarcomas.

Collaborative basic science studies yielded a mouse model of the plexiform nerve tumors that form in NF1. Subsequent tests provided critical guidance in drug selection and the finding that an MEK inhibitor made the nerve tumors shrink significantly.

While this drug had been tested in people, it showed rare but significant retinal toxicity. The team found that lower doses of the drug still worked to shrink nerve tumors, suggesting that toxicity in patients might not occur at these much lower doses.

Together, the NF Program has achieved the ultimate goal for academic scientists and clinical researchers: a novel treatment that can transform patient outcomes.

See more faculty award winners