First three recipients of inaugural Harry Winston Fellowships named

Donation supports work of brightest minds in pediatric medicine

Harry Winston, Inc. and the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute have named the first three recipients of the inaugural Harry Winston Fellowships.

Harry Winston, Inc., the international fine jeweler and watchmaker, donated a five-year, $1 million contribution to support the work of young pediatric physician-scientists from Mattel Children' s Hospital UCLA who are conducting research to prevent, treat and cure disease and illness in children.

"We are proud to announce the first three Harry Winston Fellows and congratulate them on this tremendous achievement," said company CEO Nayla Hayek. "Harry Winston has long believed in engaging local communities to initiate a global good. Through the Harry Winston Fellowship Fund, we are honored to continue this tradition by supporting these young physician-scientists whose vital contributions to pediatric research will help to enable healthy and brilliant futures for children around the world."

The Harry Winston Fellows represent physician-scientists in their second or third year of fellowship at UCLA (a period of specialized training following a doctor's residency) who have demonstrated a commitment to a career in academic medicine. The Fellows, who have all shown unparalleled excellence in clinical and research skills, are also extremely bright, exceptionally hardworking and driven by a desire to make a significant difference in their field.

Harry Winston Fellows will be chosen annually by an internal selection committee led by Dr. Sherin Devaskar, physician-in-chief of Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and executive director of the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute.

"The UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute promotes scholarship and lifelong learning at all levels of career development," said Devaskar. "The Harry Winston Fellowship Fund will support the best and brightest subspecialty fellows toward becoming exceptional academic physician-scientists who will go on to collaborate and establish networks locally, nationally and globally."

The 2014 – 2015 Harry Winston Fellows include:

Dr. Kristina Adachi, a third-year fellow in the division of pediatric infectious diseases. Adachi's work focuses on untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during pregnancy and the deleterious impact of these infections on infants' health. Specifically, her research aims to investigate how infections with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis during pregnancy may impact the transmission of HIV and cytomegalovirus (CMV) from mothers to infants. She has a special interest in infectious diseases as it pertains to global maternal-child health and is passionate about discovering ways to improve the health of infants and children in low and middle-income countries. She is thrilled to have this opportunity to draw more attention to neglected issues in global maternal-child health including the need for prenatal screening and treatment for STIs. It is her sincere hope that this project and other research endeavors may aid in decreasing the risk of HIV and CMV transmission from mothers to infants and ultimately help prevent the devastating consequences of these infections in infants.

Dr. Leslie Kimura, a second year fellow in the division of pediatric endocrinology. The incidence of diabetes, particularly type 2, is on the rise, but drugs to treat it have not focused on the largest tissue utilizer of glucose-- skeletal muscle. Kimura's research aims to understand how a protective peptide called humanin can affect muscle cell function with hopes that the discoveries may lead to an innovative pharmaceutical treatment for diabetes in the future. Kimura said she is excited to combine her love of science and patient care in a project that has the potential to change the direction of diabetes research and treatment.

Dr. Edward Talya, a second year fellow in the division of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. His research focuses on patients with short bowel syndrome, which is a disease where the patient is missing enough of the small intestine that they cannot get the nutrition they need from eating. His research aims to determine the role of a hormone named glucagon like peptide-1 in patients with short bowel syndrome and how this peptide affects the movement of the stomach and the remaining intestine. This research has the potential for developing a novel pharmacologic therapy for short bowel syndrome, specifically with glucagon like-peptide 1. Talya has been motivated by patients with short bowel syndrome and pseudo-obstruction because these conditions are very challenging to manage clinically.

The recipients will be formally announced at a reception held on Oct. 9 in Los Angeles.

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