The Sherman Prize is pleased to honor the exceptional and pioneering work of the inaugural Sherman Prize recipients. These individuals have demonstrated achievements in advancing patient care, medical research, and public advocacy and shown excellence in the field that extends far beyond their professional duties. With flexible funding to advance their work, we hope to create a ripple effect, inspiring excellence in others to improve the understanding and treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Dr. Szigethy is a psychiatrist who specializes in integrating behavioral and medical care for children and adults with IBD—that is, by teaching behavioral specialists about the gut and medical specialists about the brain. Dr. Szigethy built the nation’s first behavioral health program for pediatric IBD patients, addressing the emotional and behavioral challenges of IBD, co-locating a psychiatrist and psychologist within the pediatric gastroenterology clinic at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She has since replicated that model for adult patients, founding the Visceral Inflammation and Pain Center to provide psychological and psychiatric services for patients at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center IBD Center. Dr. Szigethy has proven that providing behavioral and medical care in tandem improves health outcomes and reduces medical costs.
“Early on in my career, I was struck by the level of unaddressed emotional distress faced by people with IBD, and set my goal to show that behavioral treatment could improve their quality of life,” said Dr. Szigethy. “I look forward to using the Sherman Prize funding to further explore the relationship between the inflammatory biomarkers of IBD, genetic markers, GI symptoms, and psychiatric symptoms to better understand the treatment of psychiatric co-morbidities of IBD.”
As a renowned clinician-scientist in the field of gastroenterology, Dr. Lewis has dedicated his 20-year career to optimizing medical therapies for IBD patients. His latest work focuses on exploring the influence of diet and gut microorganisms on the course of IBD to identify novel treatment strategies that are not based on systemic immunosuppression. This research builds on the seminal work he recently published on the relationship between diet and the composition of gut microbiota, and it may lead to diet-based treatments for Crohn’s and colitis. While directing multiple IBD treatment studies, Dr. Lewis is also spearheading the creation of IBD Plexus, an innovative IBD research and information exchange platform that will standardize data collection and sharing, allowing researchers to mine vast troves of patient data for new insights into Crohn’s and colitis.
“None of my research and educational efforts would have meaning if it were not for the potential to improve the lives of patients with IBD,” said Dr. Lewis. “Crohn’s and colitis still pose severe challenges, despite available therapies. Until we have a cure, I will continue to study ways to optimize current treatments and develop less toxic therapies—potentially including dietary changes—to help patients control their IBD and enjoy a better quality of life.
Dr. Chen’s passion is caring for patients with IBD and conducting research to understand the disease—how and why it develops and how it can be effectively treated and even prevented. Through her work as a clinician, Dr. Chen is able to identify knowledge gaps in IBD management that she explores through her investigator-initiated research studies that will advance the scientific knowledge of the disease and, ultimately, benefit future patients who have or are at risk for IBD. Already, she has made important contributions to the understanding of the gut microbiome and the role it plays in IBD. As a member of the NYU School of Medicine faculty, Dr. Chen works closely with colleagues at both NYU Langone Medical Center and NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, to allow for the study of IBD in a widely diverse population of patients—including the underserved.
As part of her efforts, Dr. Chen serves as an attending physician at the IBD Clinic at Bellevue Hospital, directed by Lisa B. Malter, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. There, Dr. Chen and her colleagues address the challenges of caring for underserved patients who are most vulnerable to the severe, and sometimes devastating, complications of Crohn’s and colitis. Their comprehensive approach to care includes advocacy and care coordination—such as assisting with medical assistance forms, navigating the health care system, and facilitating access to other specialized medical and interpretation services when needed.
“I’m very grateful to the Sherman Prize committee for helping to continue our work caring for the diverse, underserved patients at Bellevue and conducting research initiatives that we hope will improve clinical outcomes of future patients with IBD,” said Dr. Chen.