School of medicine

School Notes: School of Medicine
September/October 2023

Nancy J. Brown |

Professor wins international research prize

In June, Akiko Iwasaki, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, received the 2023 Else Kröner Fresenius Prize for Medical Research, one of the most prestigious honors of its kind. The prize honors Iwasaki’s “groundbreaking contributions in the areas of diseases of worldwide significance,” and supports her current and future investigations of long COVID as well as other chronic and debilitating post-acute infection syndromes such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). These poorly understood conditions have produced symptoms that include fatigue, shortness of breath, muscular aches and pains, brain fog, and chest pain. The jury that awarded the prize says it “honors Professor Akiko Iwasaki’s outstanding work on the immune response to viral infections,” adding, “it can furthermore be expected that [her] research on long COVID and other post-acute infection syndromes will bring forth additional discoveries and advances in the coming years which ultimately might help with the diagnosis or treatment of these types of diseases.”

Beyond Ozempic: trials hold promise of highly effective obesity drugs

The United States and countries around the world are facing a skyrocketing obesity epidemic, but until recently, clinicians had few effective therapies to offer patients. Now, numerous clinical trials are exploring new pharmacotherapies that target the mechanisms underlying the disease. Yale researchers are evaluating retatrutide and tirzepatide (sold under the brand name Mounjaro and FDA-approved for type 2 diabetes), which are weekly injectable medications that clinical trials are showing to be highly effective in treating both obesity and type 2 diabetes. While not yet FDA-approved for chronic weight management, they may eventually outshine the drugs now dominating the market. “It’s an exciting time to lead research in the rapidly evolving landscape of anti-obesity pharmacotherapeutics,” says Ania Jastreboff ’11PhD, associate professor of medicine (endocrinology) and of pediatrics (pediatric endocrinology), director of the Yale Obesity Research Center (Y-Weight), and codirector of the Yale Center for Weight Management. 

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