2020 John W. Walsh Translational Research Award

Nazli Khodayari, PhD receives the 2020 John W. Walsh Translational Research Award for the research grant entitled “Novel Biomarkers for Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Mediated Liver Disease in Circulating Exosomes”.

This honorable award was created in October 2016 and is named after John W. Walsh, co-founder of the Alpha-1 Foundation., a visionary man who dedicated his life’s work to finding a cure for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and helping those affected by Alpha-1. Walsh’s leadership and passion have helped shape the Alpha-1 Foundation into a successful organization and he is responsible for many of the Foundation’s accomplishments over more than two decades.

One of the greatest challenges to development of novel therapies for Alphas with liver disease is the fact that much of Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency liver disease is silent until the very late stage of disease. Dr. Khodayari and her coworkers have discovered that exosomes, very small vesicles that are released from cells, including liver cells, have proteins and other important molecules that both reflect the state of cells as well as serve as a way for cells to communicate with each other. In this context, study of the contents of exosomes may provide scientists with a window into cellular dysfunction. Dr. Khodayari plans to determine if these exosomes in the blood may be used to identify liver disease in Alphas without performing a liver biopsy, i.e. via liquid biopsy.

Dr. Khodayari received her PhD from Azad University, Tehran, Iran and did her post-doctoral training at the University of Florida recently advancing to the rank of Research Assistant Professor. Dr. Khodayari has 18 publications in peer reviewed journals including Journal of Biological Chemistry, Cell Communication and Signaling, PLos One and the Journal of Cell Biochemistry. In addition to Dr. Khodayari’s scientific endeavors she is an avid equestrian.\

The inaugural John W. Walsh Translational Research Award was granted to Joseph Kaserman, MD, instructor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and physician in Pulmonary, Allergy, Sleep and Critical Care Medicine at Boston Medical Center.