2021 Nelson Family Transplant Innovation Award Recipients

The recipients of this year’s Nelson Family Transplant Innovation Awards at Columbia have been announced. Established in 2020, the Nelson Awards support basic and translational research in transplantation. The program is designed to support new, innovative research with the potential to yield advances in immune tolerance, organ availability, mechanisms of graft loss, and pediatric transplantation.

Proposal applications were submitted in June and reviewed by the scientific advisory panel in July. This is the second year granting Nelson Awards, and four new investigators have been welcomed into the program. Six of the investigators who received funding in 2020 will have their funding renewed with a 2021 award.

The research funded by this year’s awards has the potential to answer some of the most pressing questions our clinicians, and their patients, face—from children to adults, across many organ areas. This wide scope is a credit to the Nelson family’s vision to create an awards program that advances emerging research across our field.

See the recipients below:

Ibrahim Batal, MD, who will be examining the role of genetics and inflammation in donor APOL1 nephropathy (new award).

Jianing Fu, PhD, who will be investigating phenotypic and clonal tracking of human γδ T cells locally and systemically after human intestinal transplantation (renewal).

Adam Griesemer, MD, who will be defining the role of donor-reactive T cells in liver tolerance (renewal). 

Marlena V. Habal, MD, who will be pursuing a synergistic approach to targeting HLA antibodies with belatacept and a proteasome inhibitor (renewal).

Syed Ali Husain, MD, MPH, who will be examining methods of predicting kidney failure and kidney transplantation in pediatric non-renal solid organ transplant recipients (new award).

Tomoaki Kato, MD, who will be pursuing a pilot study of pig-to-monkey xenogenic liver transplantation (new award). 

Mohsen Khosravi Maharlooei, MD, who will be investigating conversion/conditioning-resistant swine-specific CAR Tregs for improvement of mixed hematopoietic chimerism and induction of immune tolerance for xenotransplantation (renewal).

Mercedes Martinez, MD, who will be examining biomarkers of operational tolerance in pediatric liver transplantation (renewal).

Sumit Mohan, MD, MPH, who will be using clinical decision support to improve deceased donor kidney utilization (renewal).

Joshua Weiner, MD, who will be defining the relationship between host-microbiome interactions and rejection after intestinal transplantation (new award).