Fund for the Future (FFF) Awards Announced: Advancing Research Careers of Junior Faculty

The Weill Department of Medicine has announced five winners who will receive Fund for the Future (FFF) awards.

The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Department of Medicine is committed to fostering the development of the next generation of physician-scientists and translational scientists during their training. The department’s FFF award program provides support for selected instructors and faculty interested in pursuing careers as physician-scientists and/or translational scientists. The overall goal of the Fund for the Future award is to support talented, hard-working, academically accomplished instructors/faculty to acquire additional preliminary data in order to write a successful NIH K award or foundation equivalent. The program provides funding during the crucial period of career development that spans the completion of research training through the early years of the first faculty position at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Awardees are selected based upon their strong potential for forming a successful career as an independent researcher and follow-on federal/extramural funding. The award was enabled due to the generosity of donors to the Weill Department of Medicine and Iris Cantor Center for Women’s Health. This year’s awardees will receive FFF funding of $150,000 in the initial year beginning July 2022. FFF awards provide the initial year of funding to the recipient with a total funding maximum of $300,000. This funding is based upon academic progress and a competitive training award (such as an NIH K) application timeline within 18 months of initiation of the Fund for the Future support. In addition, winners of an FFF award who are currently fellows will join the faculty of the WDOM, which is a prerequisite of the award.

The winners are:

Mark Bustoros, M.D., Hematology and Medical Oncology
Sasha Fahme, M.D., General Internal Medicine
Christopher Gonzalez, M.D., General Internal Medicine
Hana Lim, M.D., Hematology and Medical Oncology
Grace Maldarelli, Ph.D., Infectious Diseases

Dr. Mark Bustoros, Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology, studies the genetic and epigenetic alterations involved in Multiple Myeloma pathogenesis and works on identifying novel targets in this malignancy. He also focuses on studying the biological factors associated with racial disparities in Multiple Myeloma development and mechanisms of drug resistance to standard and novel therapies in patients.

Dr. Sasha Fahme, Assistant Professor of Medicine, focuses on the syndemic effects of armed conflict and forced displacement on women’s sexual and reproductive health. Her long-term goal is to become an independent physician-scientist studying and addressing the impact of humanitarian crises and forced migration on women’s health in resource-limited settings. Her current research project will examine the determinants, prevalence, and longitudinal sequelae of sexually transmitted infections among a community-based cohort of vulnerable Syrian refugee women living in Beirut, Lebanon. Dr. Fahme has conducted several years of clinical service and research on the health and human rights of Syrian refugee women and girls in Lebanon, where she developed a peer-led sexual and reproductive health intervention for adolescent refugee girls. She has also performed research consultancies for the United Nations Development Programme and World Health Organization on gender, health and migration in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Fahme serves as the Co-Director of the Weill Cornell Women in Global Health Research Initiative's Female Global Scholars Program, a training program for early-career women conducting global health research in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr. Christopher J. Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, is a practicing primary care physician. After receiving his M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, Dr. Gonzalez completed his Internal Medicine residency training at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. He received a Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research as the inaugural Health Equity Research Fellow at the HRSA Diversity Center of Excellence at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Gonzalez’s research aims to understand and leverage social and cultural behaviors to improve the health of diverse Hispanic populations in the U.S. He will identify patient and practice-level factors pertinent to developing and implementing a diabetes prevention intervention for Hispanic immigrant men within Federally Qualified Health Centers. His research experience, along with his established history of clinical practice in predominantly Hispanic communities, has provided important insights into the social determinants and social relationships that both facilitate and impede numerous health behaviors for diverse Hispanic populations. This is the basis of his aspiration to develop a career in academic research assessing and addressing health inequities faced by Hispanic populations.

Dr. Hana I. Lim, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, has a special interest in hemostasis and thrombosis. She completed her Internal Medicine training and Hematology/Oncology fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. Her primary research interest is coagulation abnormalities in liver disease, specifically looking at fibrinolytic alterations in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) cirrhosis. Thrombogenicity of NASH cirrhosis is not well understood, and portal vein thrombosis (PVT) can be highly morbid in this complex patient population. Her project investigates the potential role of adipokines such as leptin and their effects on cell-surface fibrinolytic receptors such as the annexin A2 complex that may lead to PVT in NASH cirrhosis.

Dr. Grace Anne Maldarelli completed her undergraduate work in Public Health Studies at Johns Hopkins University, then earned her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She matched to the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Training Program as part of the Medical Research Track program. She completed her internal medicine residency before transitioning to the institution's fellowship in Infectious Diseases in July 2019 and will complete her fellowship training in June 2022. Her overall research interests are in enteric bacteria and their interactions with each other and the human host. Her FFF project focuses on the characterization of enteric bacteria contributing to the development of extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease, as well as understanding the mechanisms by which these bacteria exert these effects.