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Ophthalmology professor among Feinberg faculty inducted into American Society for Clinical Investigation

News
Article

Amani Fawzi, MD, is inducted into the society. Her research uses translational approaches to study age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

(Image Credit: Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine)

(Image Credit: Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine)

A Northwestern ophthalmology professor is among 4 Feinberg faculty members recently inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

According to a Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine news release,1 the society is 1 of the nation’s oldest medical honor societies composed of more than 3,000 physician-scientists. Three other Feinberg faculty members have been honored with the ASCI young Physician-Scientist Award, which honors physician-scientists who are early in their first faculty appointment and have made notable achievements in their research.

Amani Fawzi, MD, the Cyrus Tang and Lee Jampol Professor of Ophthalmology was inducted, along with Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD, director of neuropathology in the Department of Pathology; Sanjiv Shah, MD, the Neil J. Stone, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology; and Benjamin Singer, MD, the Lawrence Hicks Professor of Pulmonary Medicine.

The Feinberg faculty members who were honored with the ASCI Young Physician-Scientist Award included SeingHye Han, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care; Fei Li Kuang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology; and Whitney Stevens, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology and otolaryngology.

“To be inducted to ASCI, as a member of a very small group of ophthalmologist members, is such a great honor,” Fawzi said in the news release.

According to Northwestern Medicine, Fawzi’s research utilizes translational approaches to study age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, both major causes of vision loss. Her work particular focus on using high-resolution and functional retinal imaging, techniques used in her most recent study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, where she used high-resolution imaging to visualize and characterize the timeline for vascular cell loss in diabetic retinopathy in living human eyes.2

Fawzi pointed out the results represent a major advance in researchers’ understanding of vascular mural cell compromise in diabetes.

“We discovered that these vascular supporting cells begin to disappear from the retinal blood vessels very early on, well before any other clinical manifestations of diabetes,” she said. “We believe our findings will stimulate the field towards developing early interventions to preserve these cells and that using imaging technology, we can monitor the impact of such treatments on the health of these critical cells in the living eye and ultimately prevent vision loss in diabetes.”

Fawzi’s research has also promoted the early monitoring of age-related macular degeneration. In a separate study published in PLoS One, her team of researchers provided evidence that identifying early-stage disease, which involves identifying newly formed blood vessels invading the retina called choroidal neovascularization, may help prevent disease progression.3

“Once these lesions are identified in an eye, we insist on seeing the patient on a more stringent follow-up schedule, and we use the OCT angiography technology at each of these visits,” Fawzi said in the news release. “This heightened vigilance allows us to detect the exudative conversion, which occurs in about one-fifth of these eyes, a lot more readily.”

Moreover, according to the news release, Fawzi’s research has been supported by a $75,000 grant from the International Research Collaborators Award from Research to Prevent Blindness, which will support a multitude of scientific collaborations at Feinberg and beyond that have the potential to accelerate the development of treatments for blinding disorders.4

References:
  1. Feinberg Faculty Inducted into American Society for Clinical Investigation. News Center. Published February 9, 2024. Accessed February 10, 2024. https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/2024/02/09/feinberg-faculty-inducted-into-american-society-for-clinical-investigation/
  2. Huang BB, Fukuyama H, Burns SA, Fawzi AA. Imaging the Retinal Vascular Mural Cells In Vivo: Elucidating the Timeline of Their Loss in Diabetic Retinopathy. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2024;44(2):465-476. doi:https://doi.org/10.1161/atvbaha.123.320169
  3. Subclinical Macular Degeneration Requires Monitoring. News Center. Published July 15, 2019. Accessed February 10, 2024. https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/2019/07/15/subclinical-macular-degeneration-requires-monitoring/
  4. Ophthalmology Receives Grant to Support International Collaboration. News Center. Published December 14, 2021. Accessed February 10, 2024. https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/2021/12/14/ophthalmology-receives-grant-to-support-international-collaboration/
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