The Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation has announced the recipients of the eighth annual Sherman Prizes, recognizing excellence in the field of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
We are proud to share that three AGA members — Corey Siegel, MD, MS, Andres Yarur, MD, and current AGA Governing Board member Thaddeus Stappenbeck, MD, PhD — have received this honorable distinction for their dedicated work in the field.
Congratulations to these recipients
Dr. Corey Siegel is awarded a $100,000 Sherman Prize for pioneering new models of IBD care that have significantly improved outcomes for patients and made an indelible effect on the field of IBD.
Focusing his career on improving the patient experience and optimizing care, Dr. Siegel is a changemaker who is highly regarded for bringing the science of risk communication to the field of IBD, advancing systematic approaches to quality improvement, and expanding access to high-quality care. When Dr. Siegel recognized that his patients struggled with treatment decisions because they often overestimated side effects and underestimated the risk of the disease itself, he created the risk palette and helped develop CDPath to contextualize risk. Both tools facilitate shared decision-making and are widely used to help reduce anxiety over side effects and increase adoption of effective medicines. To help healthcare providers identify the best treatment options for their patients, he founded a network of IBD professionals when he was a Fellow that has grown into a top-tier panel of international experts called BRIDGe (Building Research in IBD Globally), which researches and formulates recommendations for challenging areas of practice where there are little to no existing data. He helped found IBD Qorus, acting as co-primary investigator with Dr. Gil Melmed, to connect a network of 50+ IBD practices throughout the country that collect and share patient-reported outcomes data to identify best practices. Dr. Siegel said the group has seen a significant decrease in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and the use of steroids and opioids as a result. Now, he is expanding access to care to help ensure all patients can benefit from best practices and the latest therapies. Through his RADIUS (Rural Advanced Practice Providers Delivering IBD Care in the United States) program, Dr. Siegel, along with IBD psychologists, dietitians, pharmacists, and nurses at IBD Centers nationally act as ‘hubs’ to deliver quality care to rural patients who live many hours away through telemedicine in collaboration with their local providers. Dr. Siegel believes there is still much to learn about the medicines we have now, and therapies yet to be introduced, and stands committed to expanding awareness of best practices and access to effective medicines as the field advances.
Dr. Thaddeus Stappenbeck receives a $100,000 Sherman Prize for his groundbreaking discoveries in the underlying causes of IBD that are unlocking new treatment strategies.
A math aficionado with a fascination for science and the natural world, Dr. Stappenbeck fosters cross-discipline partnerships to translate his research into the development of new targeted therapies for inflammatory diseases like IBD. One of Dr. Stappenbeck’s first big breakthroughs was finding a way to study wound healing in the mouse colon – a crucial area of research because mucosal ulcerations are a key feature of moderate to severe IBD. His lab innovated the use of endoscopic biopsies in a pre-clinical model, which he called “the missing technical piece” to be able to study wound healing in the colon. This enabled his group to define the phases of wound repair in the colon, laying the groundwork for further discovery of the processes that defined each stage of intestinal repair. One use of this model, Dr. Stappenbeck and his trainees discovered, was that later stages of healing are inhibited by a type of yeast called Debaryomyces hansenii, which he also found in the colonic ulcers of people with Crohn’s disease. This yeast is ubiquitous in our diet and is harmless in most people. But, he found it can inhibit the repair of intestinal ulcers in people with Crohn’s disease. His research identified ways to target this yeast in this location, which has now led to the development of a new therapeutic. Dr. Stappenbeck readily shares his novel methods for studying wound healing so others can also push this research forward. This generosity stands out in the field, as do his contributions to a deeper understanding of the microbiome, which is vital to discovering future cures for IBD. To make these types of breakthroughs, Dr. Stappenbeck coaches younger colleagues to work with scientists outside of their discipline, as he has done throughout his life. Dr. Stappenbeck sees a future where this cross-discipline work, using mathematical modeling, big data, and artificial intelligence will solve problems that up until now have seemed unsolvable – like warding off disease before it even starts. Today he’s advancing this important research at Cleveland Clinic, where he’s aided by the first quantum computer in the world dedicated to healthcare research. His eye is on the future – continuing to advance understanding of IBD to make healthier lives possible.
Dr. Andres Yarur is awarded the $25,000 Sherman Emerging Leader Prize for his prolific research that is helping to optimize today’s IBD therapies for better outcomes.
On a mission that’s taken him from his homeland of Chile to Miami, Chicago, Wisconsin, and most recently to Los Angeles, Dr. Yarur is in pursuit of better outcomes and better well-being for people with IBD. With a goal of developing novel treatments and optimizing current therapies, Dr. Yarur’s research focuses on answering questions of why current therapies may not be working and how to make today’s medicines work better for patients. Among his research findings are discovering that people who have active disease, despite having detectable levels of anti-TNF medication in their blood, may not have optimal drug concentrations in the gut itself. He has also significantly advanced the knowledge of the interaction and optimization of combination therapy regimens. The use of combination therapy can further raise the therapeutic ceiling of drugs and these research findings are already impacting IBD care. In his most recent work, Dr. Yarur studied how visceral fat could affect treatment outcomes, finding that some patients with higher amounts of abdominal visceral adipose tissue do not respond to certain biologic medicines and that this phenomenon may be driven by discrete differences in systemic inflammatory profiles. Dr. Yarur is continuing this research on why and how commonly used IBD drugs may not be as efficacious in people with obesity and how metabolic syndrome can induce and perpetuate the inflammatory response seen in IBD. As he seeks to improve the health of people with IBD, Dr. Yarur has also been focused on addressing disparities in care. While at Milwaukee VA System, he worked to improve outcomes for veterans with IBD. Now he’s exploring how the disease differs by ethnicity and race and trying to identify approaches to close that gap. As he looks to the future, he’s excited by the pace of scientific discovery and is committed to keep moving the needle forward in testing new therapies and translating bench discovery into clinical interventions that will revolutionize care for people with IBD.
The honorees’ groundbreaking work will be featured in short tribute films that will be premiered during special sessions at the Advances in IBD conference on Dec. 15, 2023. The films may be viewed at www.ShermanPrize.org following the conference.
About the Sherman Prize
In 2016, Bruce and Cynthia Sherman established the Sherman Prize to provide national recognition and financial prizes to pioneering IBD professionals who exemplify excellence in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. With today’s announcement, the Sherman Prize has honored 24 IBD practitioners from diverse specialties. Visit ShermanPrize.org to view the Honor Roll of Sherman Prize recipients, watch their inspiring short tribute films, and sign up to receive notifications for the 2024 nomination cycle.