Ankush Gosain, MD, PhD, FACS, FAAP, associate professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, was awarded the 2019-2020 Mid-Career Award from the Society of University Surgeons (SUS). Dr. Gosain is also the director of Pediatric Surgery Research in the Children’s Foundation Research Institute at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
The Mid-Career Award was created by the Society of University Surgeons to provide funding for principal investigators with a history of research on major independent grants or smaller pilot grants. The award provides Dr. Gosain and his lab with $40,000 for one year toward their current project, while requiring that a presentation of results be given at the 2021 Academic Surgical Congress in Houston, Texas.
“This grant comes at a critical time for my lab, as we’ve had funding for the last nine years and this grant allows us to keep our projects going,” Dr. Gosain said. “This funding will allow us to continue developing data for our grant application and be competitive for National Institutes of Health funding.”
Dr. Gosain’s current project, “Neural Crest Cell and Extracellular Matrix Interactions in Hirschsprung Disease,” is looking at how the enteric nervous system, or the “brain of the gut,” fails to develop properly in children with Hirschsprung Disease. Hirschsprung Disease is a birth defect that sees the enteric nervous system fail to form correctly in children, thus resulting in missing nerve cells that are required to help the gut function. His lab is specifically looking into a receptor that is defective in gut cells, the 37/67-Laminin Receptor, and attempting to understand on a molecular level how it works and how it can be changed as a potential therapy.
“We are hoping to understand the enteric nervous system on a molecular level and use what we learn to address many problems that children face,” he said. “Beyond Hirschsprung disease, from Crohn’s Disease to diabetes, and even autism, we hope to see if addressing these issues can help children facing these problems.”
The SUS, founded in 1938, is a prestigious organization that seeks to support and advance leaders in academic surgery. The group elects members who are well-established and have demonstrated strong academic accomplishment in their field. Dr. Gosain was elected to membership in 2015.
Dr. Gosain said this award is particularly exciting, as it is the only award currently offered in the surgical field that funds academics who are in the mid-career stage.
“The SUS sees the need of members in the middle of their careers and how they can help and encourage projects by providing grant money,” Dr. Gosain said. “A lot of programs offer grants for those just starting in their careers, but one for those further in their careers is rare and I’m honored to have received this award.”