Young Investigator Award Recipients - Where Are They Now?

The Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation recently caught up with some of our past recipients of the  Young Investigator Awards to see where they are now professionally. We were pleased to learn that many continue to work in the cutaneous lymphoma field. Read their stories below:

Larisa Geskin, MD
2005 YIA Recipient

Dr. Geskin is a board certified dermatologist in both Pennsylvania and New York.  Currently she practices in the Department of Dermatology, Columbia University.  Prior to her position in New York, Dr. Geskin served as the Director of the Department of Dermatology Cutaneous Oncology Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as well as Assistant Professor.  She has continued her research in cutaneous lymphoma and was the co-investigator in several clinical studies to test treatments for melanoma and other cutaneous malignancies.  “Over a decade ago, as an aspiring young cutaneous oncologist, I was honored to receive the YIA (Mycosis Fungoides Foundation back then). I was only a few years out of my fellowship, working very hard to build a state-of-the-art Cutaneous Lymphoma Center at the University of Pittsburgh and striving to cure the disease with my research. I was thrilled to receive this award, which made my travel to the meeting possible, but most importantly it “put me on the map” within the cutaneous lymphoma community. Not only did I find myself in a great company with other very deserving recipients, most importantly, it allowed me to connect with so many great mentors, scientists and clinicians. This award symbolized my devotion to the field of cutaneous lymphomas and was vital to my future academic career.”  Dr. Geskin regularly supports the efforts of the Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation by speaking at various Patient Educational Forums across the country.  Dr. Geskin is also a member of the Board of the United States Cutaneous Lymphoma Consortium as well as the International Society of Cutaneous Lymphomas.

Christiane Querfeld, MD, PhD
2006 YIA Recipient

Dr. Querfeld is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with advanced fellowship training in cutaneous lymphoma. She practices at Memorial-Sloan Kettering in New York City.  Her clinical practice focuses on the diagnosis and management of patients with cutaneous lymphoma, and affected by cutaneous complications of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.  Her research has been focused on the biology of this rare disease and novel therapies. She serves as co-principal investigator on several clinical Phase I and II trials of cutaneous T cell lymphomas. Dr. Querfeld is very active with the Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation serving as a speaker for Patient Educational Forums across the country.  She is also a Board Member of the United States Cutaneous Lymphoma Consortium.

Rachael A. Clark, MD, PhD
2007 YIA Recipient

Dr. Clark is an Associate Physician at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, and an Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Harvard Medical School.  She has been published more than 45 times for her research in cutaneous lymphoma and other skin related diseases.  Dr. Clark was one of two recipients of the 2013 Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation CLARIONS Research Award.  Her research under the CLARIONS award focuses on low dose external radiation as a cure for skin resident T-cell lymphomas.  “Receiving the CLF YIA was a wonderful boost for my career.  The chance to present my work and be recognized for it was an incredibly inspiring and motivating experience. This recognition meant a great deal to me both professionally and personally.  My work in CTCL, now funded by an NIH R01 grant, remains the most rewarding work I have ever been involved in. The chance to bring patients into the laboratory in order to understand the disease better and improve therapies represents translational research in the very  best sense. I am and will always remain grateful to the CLF for recognizing my earliest work in CTCL and inspiring my continued studies.”

Dr. Xiao Ni
2008 YIA Recipient

Dr. Ni is an Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology - Research, Division of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.  She has a dual appointment as an Adjunct Faculty at The University of Texas, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.  Her research interest include skin immunology, tumor immunology, immunotherapy, dendritic cell subsets, and T cell subsets.  She is the lead on various preclinical studies including research about dendritic cell vaccine on cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, assessing the effect of anti-CCR4 antibody on regulatory T cells, an immune suppressive cell, and identifying identify the biomarkers for response and resistance to photopheresis for CTCL.  Her newest project is to find molecular genetic mutations contributing to CTCL and further determine the effect of tumor-associated molecular markers on overall survival, progression free survival and response to targeted therapy.  Dr. Ni is published not only in the United States, but China as well where she contributed to the Chinese Modern Scientific Encyclopedia.

Makoto Sugaya, MD
2010 YIA Recipient

Dr. Sugaya is an Associate Professor of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tokyo, Japan.  Since receiving the YIA in 2010, he has completed 18 research papers and 16 case reports on cutaneous lymphoma.  IN 2013, he saw 36 new patients and many physicians consult him about diagnosis and treatment.   He started an online consultation serice in the 2011.  Dr. Sugaya was the first author of the revision of the Japanese Guide for Treating Cutaneous Lymphoma and he continues to see CTCL patients in his practice.   “Winning the YIA has been helpful to advance my career. I have become one of the leading scientists on cutaneous lymphoma in Japan. “  Dr. Sugaya is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Cutaneous.

Dr. Oleg Akilov
2011 YIA Recipient

Oleg E. Akilov, MD, PhD has completed 2-years of training with Drs. Geskin and Falo in Cutaneous Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Currently he is a Chief Resident in the Department of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  Dr. Akilov’s research when he was the 2011 YIA recipient focused on the investigation of heat shock protein 70 antibodies in patients with tumor stage Mycosis Fungoides. He continues his research work in the field of cutaneous lymphoma investigating biomarkers of early and aggressive disease. His current research is to develop new, non-invasive methods of diagnosis of CTCL by urine analysis.  “It was a great pleasure to be recognition by receiving this prestigious award. This support has encouraged me to continue research in the direction of biomarkers discovery.”  Dr. Akilov works closely with the Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation as a speaker for the Patient Educational Forums.

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