May 2, 2014

Distinguished Faculty Received ATS Awards at International Conference

 

Drs. Hyzy received the ATS Public Service Award.
Dr. Moore received the ATS Award for Scientific Accomplishments.

 

Robert C. Hyzy, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine (Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine), was honored at the American Thoracic Society 's International Conference in San Diego, CA this May.  

Dr. Hyzy was the inaugural recipient of the ATS Public Service Award for contributions in respiratory public health.  The American Thoracic Society created this award to recognize members with "an added focus on health care inequality and those individuals whose efforts have the potential to eliminate gender, racial, ethnic, or economic health disparities worldwide."

Dr. Hyzy has traveled to Peru as part of the Amazon Promise nine times over the past seven years.  Amazon Promise is a U.S. based, non-profit organization founded to provide desperately needed medical and dental care to remote populations living in the Upper Amazon Basin of Northeastern Peru.   Dr. Hyzy serves on the Board of the organization as its Medical Director.  Since 2008, University of Michigan medical students, residents, fellows and faculty have traveled with Dr. Hyzy to Peru as an elective clinical rotation.

In February, 2014 Dr. Hyzy was accompanied by two students, one resident and two fellows from the UMHS as he traveled to Peru to work with Amazon Promise.  The team saw over 1,000 patients during eleven medical clinics and enrolled 200 children under the age of five in a new program to receive a year of children's multivitamins supplied by Vitamin Angels, a California based non-profit organization.  Jeanette Brown, M.D., a third year fellow in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, accompanied Dr. Hyzy on his recent mission.  She states, "As a fellow I appreciate Dr. Hyzy's commitment to the under-served patients in Peru.  I was able to witness firsthand the significant need of these patients and the amount of work it takes to organize a trip into these remote areas of the Amazon.   I appreciated the opportunity to participate in this life changing trip."

 

Bethany Moore, Ph.D. Was Honored with ATS Award for Scientific Accomplishments

Bethany B. Moore, Ph.D

On Monday, May 19, 2014, Bethany B. Moore, Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine) and Microbiology and Immunology received the American Thoracic Society Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishments at the International Meeting of this society to be held in San Diego, California.  This is a yearly award given to 4 scientists and it recognizes researchers for either scientific contributions throughout their careers or for major contributions at a particular point in their careers.  Dr. Moore was nominated by Drs. Horowitz, Standiford and Curtis from within the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Division here at the Univerity of Michigan, but also received letters of support for her nomination from Dr Timothy Blackwell, chief of Pulmonary at Vanderbilt University and Dr. Patricia Sime, chief of Pulmonary at Rochester University.

Dr. Moore was honored for her work on the mechanisms underlying lung fibrosis and pulmonary host defense following bone marrow transplant.  Dr. Moore began her research career at the University of Michigan in 1997 when she started as a Research Investigator working on chemokine-mediated angiogenesis in prostate and lung cancer.  In 1999, she embarked on her first studies regarding lung fibrosis.  As an Immunologist, she was working to understand how the process of inflammation played a role in the disease pathogenesis.  She made the discovery that mice deficient in the chemokine receptor, CCR2, were protected from experimental models of lung fibrosis.  That led to a series of experiments to better understand how CCR2 signaling could promote disease.  Her research demonstrated several important roles for CCR2 in regulating lung fibrosis 1) CCR2 signaling inhibited the production of anti-fibrotic prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) from lung epithelial cells, 2) CCR2 signaling promoted mesenchymal cell activation and migration and 3) CCR2 signaling recruited a novel subset of cells called fibrocytes to the lungs.  Fibrocytes are able to migrate to sites of lung injury and promote fibrosis via the secretion of pro-fibrotic factors.  They can also differentiate into fibroblasts and myofibroblasts.

Once the observation that CCR2 regulated PGE2 production was made, Dr. Moore’s laboratory, in collaboration with Dr. Marc Peters-Golden, went on to do a series of studies to explore how PGE2 could regulate epithelial cell-fibroblast interactions, to demonstrate that PGE2 signaling could limit myofibroblast differentiation and to explore how responsiveness to PGE2 signaling is lost during the course of fibrogenesis.  Their laboratories also collectively showed that when PGE2 production was impaired, synthesis of leukotrienes was increased and that leukotrienes could promote fibrogenesis through direct effects on mesenchymal cells including fibrocytes. 

Another important observation made by Dr. Moore’s laboratory was that viral infections, particularly herpes viral infections, could augment experimental models of lung fibrosis.  This work demonstrated that both lytic and latent viral infections could promote fibrogenesis by increasing the production of numerous profibrotic factors such as transforming growth facor beta, chemokines, and leukotrienes.  In addition, they observed that this viral infection could cause fibrosis in aged mice, but not young mice, an observation that was particularly interesting given the fact that idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in humans is a disease strongly associated with advanced age.

Dr. Moore’s current work in the area of lung fibrosis is focused on a molecule called periostin which is a matricellular protein found at higher levels in aged vs. young lungs and trying to understand how the interaction of this matricellular protein with integrin receptors found on the mesenchymal cells of the lung can promote fibrogenesis.  She is also actively involved in translational research projects that have explored fibrocytes, leukocyte phenotypes and periostin as biomarkers for disease progression in patients with IPF.

Dr. Moore will also receive this award for a second major line of investigation in her laboratory that has focused on understanding why the innate and adaptive immune responses are not adequately reconstituted following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.  In this work, she made the observation that PGE2 levels are elevated in the lung post-transplant and that the overproduction of PGE2 by alveolar macrophages and neutrophils impairs their function against bacterial pathogens.  She has a made a series of important observations that have demonstrated why alveolar macrophage function is impaired as a result of PGE2 signaling.  PGE2 signaling post-transplant causes 1) upregulation of a negative regulator of toll-like receptor signaling, IRAK-M, 2) activation of phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome 10 (PTEN), an inhibitor of IgG-opsonized phagocytosis and bacterial killing, and 3) causes loss of the MARCO scavenger receptor necessary for recognition of bacterial pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pneumonia.  Her work has also demonstrated that the reason for PGE2 overproduction post-transplant involves epigenetic changes (hypomethylation of the cyclooxygenase 2 gene and induction of various miRNA species).

In another series of experiments that link her two research interests, she has demonstrated that herpes viral infections post-stem cell transplant can lead to pneumonitis and fibrosis within the lung, and that this pathology is related to overproduction of transforming growth factor beta and skewed effector responses that generate Th17 rather than Th1 cells.

In her tenure on the faculty at the University of Michigan, Dr. Moore has risen from the rank of Research Investigator on the research track to Full Professor with tenure on the instructional track.  During that time she has provided leadership as the chair of the University Committee on the Use and Care of Animals (UCUCA) and the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC).  She is currently a member of the University-wide committee on Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE), chairs the Graduate Program in Immunology and the MICHR Post-doctoral Translational Scholars Program.  She has supervised or is currently training 7 Ph.D. students, over a dozen clinical and post-doctoral fellows and numerous undergraduates.  She has over 110 peer-reviewed scientific publications and has been continuously funded by the NIH for over 15 years.

We congratulate Dr. Bethany Moore for her recognition as the recipient of this award.  Other scientists being recognized for this award this year are Zea Borok, MD, of the University of Southern California, for her work in the field of alveolar epithelial cell biology and plasticity, epithelial-mesenchymal cell transition and stem cell niches in health and disease, Juan Celedon, MD, DrPH, of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, for his research on childhood asthma and health disparities in asthma, and Rama Mallampalli, MD, of UPMC Montefiore, for his groundbreaking discoveries in pulmonary cell and molecular biology.