Two nominated for election to prestigious ASCI Honor Society
January 4, 2016 Two Department of Pediatrics physician-scientists have been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies. Sallie Permar, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics (infectious diseases), associate professor of immunology, and associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology; and Rasheed Gbadegesin, MD, MBBS, associate professor of pediatrics (nephrology), associate professor medicine, and affiliate of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, will be introduced as new members at the organization’s annual meeting on April 16 in Chicago. Since members must be 50 or younger at the time of their election, ASCI membership typically honors early-career scientific research accomplishments. The ASCI considers the nominations of several hundred physician-scientists from around the world each year, and only elects up to 80 new members. “To have two of those members be from the Duke Department of Pediatrics is truly an extraordinary accomplishment,” said Ann M. Reed, MD, William Cleland Professor of Pediatrics and chair of the department. “It is quite an honor for these two faculty members to be recognized for their outstanding research achievements.” Permar’s work focuses on defining and eliciting immune responses at the maternal-fetal interface that prevent vertical transmission of neonatal viral pathogens. She has advanced our understanding of immune protection against mother to child virus transmission by a) developing nonhuman primate models to investigate immune protection against vertical transmission of HIV-1 and cytomegalovirus, b) designing maternal vaccine strategies to target immune responses in breast milk, and c) defining novel innate antiviral factors in breast milk. Gbadegesin’s research is focused on understanding the critical pathways that are involved in the pathogenesis of nephrotic syndrome and in congenital malformations of the kidney and the urinary tract. He and his group have established a phenotypic and biorepository data base for more than 600 children with hereditary and sporadic nephrotic syndrome. In recent years they have identified two novel genes for hereditary nephrotic syndrome and vesicoureteric reflux (VUR). They have also identified a disease risk allele for childhood onset steroid sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS). Established in 1908, the ASCI is an honorary society to which more than 3,000 physician-scientists from all medical specialties belong. Membership is competitive, and members are elected on the basis of an outstanding record of scholarly achievement in biomedical research. The ASCI includes physician-scientists who are active clinically, in basic research, or in teaching. Many of its senior members are widely recognized leaders in academic medicine, including numerous Nobel laureates. The ASCI supports research into basic mechanisms and/or treatments of human disease, and to the education of future generations of physician-scientists. Those being recommended for election are not officially members of the ASCI until voted on by the membership late in February 2016. Congratulations to Dr. Permar and Dr. Gbadegesin on their nomination for election to the American Society of Clinical Investigators.