The mission of the AGA Institute Research Policy Committee (RPC) is to promote basic and clinical research in gastroenterology and hepatology. Over the last year, the RPC has engaged in several activities to further this mission.
First, the RPC offered the AGA Institute Governing Board formal recommendations regarding prioritization and allocation of AGA’s endowment for research awards. Beginning this year, AGA will draw $1.4 million from the endowment annually to fund research awards. Recognizing the critical importance of sustaining a strong pipeline of the most promising young investigators in digestive diseases, the RPC recommended support of the flagship AGA Research Scholar Awards (RSA) as the highest priority. The RSA, which is administered by the AGA Research Foundation and is considered the most prestigious research award within AGA, supports three years of protected research time for young investigators, at $90,000 per year. A small portion of the endowment is earmarked for the AGA-Caroline Craig Augustyn and Damian Augustyn Award in Digestive Cancer, a one-year, $40,000 award to supplement young investigators who currently hold federal career development awards. In addition, the committee recommended the support of 20 abstract awards for students and fellows to attend Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2017. The RPC felt this was an important initiative to build a cadre of young, loyal investigators who are engaged with AGA and its annual meeting.
Second, the RPC worked with the AGA Institute Research Awards Panel to revitalize the review process for research awards. Specifically, to enhance the quality of AGA’s review process, we began an in-person RSA study section, led by Dr. Jacquelyn Maher, chair of the Research Awards Panel and vice chair of the RPC, and Dr. Saul Karpen. The initial feedback from the Research Awards Panel participants was uniformly positive, with many citing the opportunity for more in-depth discussion of each application. We also charged the review panel with providing detailed written critiques for the applicants. The RPC felt this was an important initiative to help young investigators with unsuccessful applications improve their proposals for future grant funding. With this enhanced review process, we selected six RSA recipients in December 2016 who will be recognized throughout 2017. This includes participation in the invitation-only AGA Research Foundation’s annual Benefactors’ Dinner.
Finally, we were pleased to sponsor a session at DDW on the topic of advances in regenerative medicine for GI disorders. The session featured the following speakers:
- Noah F. Shroyer: “Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Into Intestinal Tissue”
- Omer H. Yilmaz: “Dietary Control of Intestinal Stem Cells in Regeneration and Aging”
- Wolfram Goessling: “Metabolic and Hormonal Regulation of Liver Growth and Regeneration”
As we move forward, we look forward to continuing to advance AGA’s research portfolio.
Dr. Chan serves as a consultant for Bayer Pharma AG and Pfizer, Inc.