Every year applications are sought for the Annual Dean’s Healthcare System Award, sponsored by Conduits, the Institute for Translational Science. This award has been established to acknowledge and underscore the emerging importance of interdisciplinary teams to the translation of research discoveries into clinical applications. This award is meant to recognize an outstanding interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research team for its innovative and impactful science that has advanced or likely will advance the knowledge of pathophysiology, detection, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of disease. In honor of the 50th anniversary of ISMMS, the 2018 Team Science Award focused on Team Science in Rare Diseases, an area where Sinai has been and continues to be distinguished.

Following a competitive submission process, three shortlisted teams were invited to present to a panel of judges. All three presentations were considered truly outstanding and are representative of the cutting edge team science taking place across the Mount Sinai Health System. However there was one clear winner -congratulations to: Defining the cause of Fibromuscular Dysplasia – The DEFINE-FMD Study. The judges gave the following feedback:

Dr. Kovacic’s presentation quite simply knocked it out of the ballpark.  The judges collectively agreed it was the whole package, from start to finish: from telling the compelling story of how a clinical case can inform a research question to the multi-disciplinary team they then pulled together to address their research question spans the clinical world as well as the fields of proteomics, bioinformatics and genetics.  The schematic outlining how these investigators worked together and their multiple bi-directional connections represents the gold standard for team science.  Another example of how this team distinguished itself from the others (which was no easy feat) was the description of the community engagement tools used to enhance recruitment and retention as well as patient involvement in the overall project. For all these reasons, the judges universally selected this team as the recipient of the 2019 Dean’s Team Science Award. 

The details of the project are:

Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a poorly understood disease that predominately affects women and may result in serious consequences including stroke and myocardial infarction. Although first reported in 1938, there are limited treatments available and little is known about its cause. To address the lack of understanding, in 2013 we assembled a multi-disciplinary team and initiated the DEFINE-FMD study – a large, functional ‘omics study of the genetic and molecular basis of FMD. Our close-knit and collaborative team approach has already shed light on the pathology of FMD, allowing us to identify several disease-causal candidates and to begin to develop a blood-based test for this disease.

Their team included: Jason Kovacic, MD, PhD, Jeffrey W. Olin, DO, Antonio F. Di Narzo, PhD, Valentina d’Escamard, PhD, Daniella Kadian-dodov, MD, Haoxiang Cheng, PhD, Annette King, RN, ANP, Bhargravi Vonguru, MS, Emir Bander, MD, Allison Thomas, MS, Rihab Bouchareb, PhD, Sander Florman, MD, Johan LM Björkegren, MD, PhD, Manuel Mayr MD, PhD, Ke Hao, PhD.