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Physician-scientists receive Scholar-Innovator award

Recognized for innovative research with potential clinical impact

June 10, 2024

Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg, MD, PhD (left), and Russell Pachynski, MD

Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg, MD, PhD, and Russell Pachynski, MD, both of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have been honored with the 2024 Scholar-Innovator Award from the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland. They are among 10 physician-scientists nationwide recognized for leading innovative research with potential to advance standard of clinical care.

Bubeck Wardenburg, the Donald B. Strominger Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, studies Staphylococcus aureus infection in critically ill children. Bubeck Wardenburg, who treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, has shown that staph thwarts the activity of T cells, a subset of immune cells that are required to protect against the bacteria. Her work has led to a new vaccine design that she is using to develop a staph vaccine.

Pachynski, an associate professor of medicine who treats patients and conducts clinical trials at Siteman Cancer Center, based at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, studies a protein – chemerin – that he has found recruits immune cells into tumor sites and is able to slow tumor growth. Chemerin levels are reduced in multiple cancers. He has developed and patented a chemerin-based therapeutic to boost leukocyte movement to tumor sites and potentially treat cancer.

The two-year grant award provides $100,000 with an opportunity to compete for up to $300,000 more in funding and to qualify for investment funds up to $2 million. The Harrington Discovery Institute aims to accelerate the development of breakthrough treatments by helping to make innovative research commercially viable and ready for clinical use.