Michigan Medicine Alumni Receive 2020 Distinguished Awards

Arul M. Chinnaiyan (M.D. and Ph.D. 1999), the S.P. Hicks Professor of Pathology, director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, and professor of urology, won this year's Michigan Medicine Alumni Society (MMAS) Distinguished Achievement Award. He is interested in translational cancer research and precision oncology. In a landmark study, his lab has discovered certain gene fusions in prostate cancers — the first causative gene fusion found in a common solid tumor. In 2011, he established the first integrative, comprehensive clinical sequencing approach for advanced cancer patients, called MI-ONCOSEQ, which has been a paradigm for cancer precision medicine.


Deborah L. Gumucio (Ph.D. 1986), professor emerita of cell and developmental biology and of internal medicine, received the 2020 MMAS Distinguished Service Award. Her lab helped identify MEFV, the gene for familial Mediterranean fever, the first autoinflammatory disease gene to be cloned. The Gumucio lab is internationally known for work on cell-to-cell communication during intestinal development. In 1995, Gumucio proposed the concept for the U-M Center for Organogenesis, the first center of its kind in the nation, and she was involved in its leadership for 15 years. Gumucio also was director of the Training Program in Organogenesis, served on more than 30 Medical School and U-M committees, and co-founded and still directs BioArtography, a program in which vividly colored images of cells and tissues are sold to benefit trainee travel and educate the public about scientific discovery.


Carey Lumeng (M.D. and Ph.D. 2000, Fellowship 2006), the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor for the Cure and Prevention of Birth Defects, professor of pediatrics and of molecular and integrative physiology, and director of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, received the 2020 MMAS Early Distinguished Career Award. As a postdoctoral fellow, he made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of adipose tissue inflammation in obesity. Since starting his own laboratory, he has continued to help discover the inflammatory contributions to diseases such as metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and has received awards from the National Institutes of Health, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association.


Jeffrey D. Punch (M.D. 1986, Residency 1992), professor of surgery, received the 2020 MMAS Distinguished Humanitarian Award. In 1996, Punch performed the first ever living donor liver transplant in the state of Michigan. He served as the director of the Liver Transplant program from 1999-2003, and was director of the U-M Transplant Center from 2002-14. His research interests include immunosuppression management of liver and kidney transplant recipients and the development of improved methods of organ recovery following cardiac death. In 2013, Punch began working with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to establish the first kidney transplant program in Ethiopia. With the help of an international team of volunteers, this program began performing live donor kidney transplants in 2015 and has since become self-sustaining. Punch is currently part-time medical director at Gift of Life Michigan.

Thomas Look (M.D. 1975, Fellowships 1976 and 1977, Residency 1977), professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and vice chair for research in the pediatric oncology department at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, received the 2020 MMAS Basic Science Research Award. Look's research revolves around studying cancer genetics, using the zebrafish genetic system, to clarify developmental pathways subverted in human leukemias and solid tumors. He and his colleagues hope to discover mutations or drugs that delay or suppress the onset of tumors in transgenic zebrafish lines, providing candidate targets for the development of new therapies.

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