New York (August 13, 2018) – The New York Academy of Medicine has announced two recipients of its prestigious 2018-2019 Ferdinand C. Valentine Fellowship Award for Research in Urology: Russell Hayden, MD, of Weill Cornell Medicine, whose research project is entitled “The Role of Long Non-coding RNAs”; and Jennifer Reifsnyder, MD, of the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center at Northwell Health, whose research project is entitled “Noninvasive Detection of Potential for Renal Damage in Pediatric Patients with Vesicoureteral Reflux Using Dynamic Range Ultrasonography.”
“The Academy is deeply committed to conducting and supporting research that adds to the evidence base to improve the public’s health,” said Academy President Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS. “Through the 2018 Valentine Fellowship Awards, we are pleased to support Dr. Hayden’s and Dr. Reifsnyder’s critical research in the areas of male infertility and pediatric urology.”
Each year, The New York Academy of Medicine awards more than $400,000 in grants and fellowships to medical students, seasoned physicians, and investigators to support the advancement of health care studies.
The Ferdinand C. Valentine Fellowship Award, established in 1963, offers one-year, $50,000 fellowships in support of research by individuals who have completed, or will shortly complete, residency training acceptable to the American Board of Urology, and who intend to pursue an academic research career in urology. A committee composed of experts in urology research conducts an in-depth review of the applications to select the fellowship award recipients.
Dr. Hayden is a fellow in reproductive medicine and microsurgery in the urology department of Weill Cornell Medicine. He completed his undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees at Johns Hopkins University prior to attending Harvard Medical School. After obtaining his medical degree, he trained at Massachusetts General Hospital in Urology. He is currently enrolled in a male infertility surgical fellowship at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. Dr. Hayden’s research interests span the spectrum of reproductive health: the genetic basis of non-obstructive azoospermia, and novel approaches to male contraception. To this end, his research goals encompass the physiology of male reproduction, the genomic basis of its dysfunction, and how the sperm can be modelled from an engineer’s perspective – ideally generating novel avenues for both contraception and assisted reproduction.
Infertility is a common condition that effects about 1 in 10 couples, 50% of which are due to a condition in the male partner. The genetic basis of these types of disorders is poorly understood, delaying the development of new treatments. It has recently become recognized that non-coding genes, an area of genetics that was previously under studied, may be important to sperm production. Through this research project, Dr. Hayden plans to identify non-coding genes that are either missing, or mutated, in men who produce little to no sperm. His findings will lay the groundwork for understanding male infertility, with the aim of guiding future research toward a cure.
Dr. Reifsnyder is a fellow in pediatric urology at the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center at Northwell Health. She became a pediatric urologist because caring for children offers the opportunity to have a special impact at a very early stage in her patients’ lives, while protecting a lifetime of functionality for each child. Dr. Reifsnyder earned a degree in Humanities from Yale University. She attended Weill Cornell Medical College and then trained in urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center.
In some children, vesicoureteral reflux leads to permanent renal damage, while in others it will disappear with time. Dr. Reifsnyder aims to enhance the ability of pediatric urologists to accurately and effectively determine which kidneys will sustain permanent damage due to reflux, while avoiding unnecessary treatment in those with innocent reflux. Her novel method of evaluating kidneys noninvasively with ultrasound has the potential to dramatically shift the way children with vesicoureteral reflux are managed, and to spare many of them the invasive tests that are currently in use.
Applications for the Academy’s 2019-20 research fellowships and summer 2019 student grants will open in mid-September 2018. Please visit the Academy’s Awards & Grants page for details and application materials.
About The New York Academy of Medicine
Established in 1847, The New York Academy of Medicine is dedicated to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life. Through our original research, policy and program initiatives we provide the evidence base to address the structural and cultural barriers to good health and drive progress toward health equity. This work and our one-of-a-kind public programming is supported by our world class historical medical library and our Fellows program, a unique network of more than 2,000 experts elected by their peers from across the professions affecting health.