NEWS | January 22, 2019

Physician-researchers earn clinical research honors

UC Davis Health experts recognized for their top-tier studies


UC Davis Health research achievements are continuing to earn laurels and recognition. A research study co-authored by UC Davis Health physicians Jonathan Ducore and Adam Giermasz, co-directors of the UC Davis Health Hemophilia Treatment Center, has received a national “Top Ten” award by the Clinical Research Forum.

Jonathan Ducore
Jonathan Ducore

Ducore, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Giermasz, of the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Hematology and Oncology, were among the physicians who enrolled patients with hemophilia in a clinical trial for gene therapy that has shown great promise. The gene therapy treatment, developed by Spark Therapeutics, dramatically reduced bleeding and the need for regular infusions among those enrolled in the trial. The paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2017. 

Adam Giermasz
Adam Giermasz

Two other UC Davis Health studies, which were selected as finalists for the Top 10 awards, also earned recognition from the Forum as among the top 20 research papers nationally.

Craig McDonald, professor and chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and David Gandara, professor of medicine emeritus, were honored for their remarkable research accomplishments in papers they published in two other prestigious scientific journals.
McDonald’s nominated study, “Long-term effects of glucocorticoids on function, quality of life, and survival in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a prospective cohort study” (Lancet. 2018 Feb3;391(10119):451-461), examined the long-term effects of glucocorticoids on milestone-related disease progression across the lifespan and survival in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Gandara’s study, “Blood-based tumor mutational burden as a predictor of clinical benefit in non-small-cell lung cancer patients treated with atezolizumab,” (Nat Med. 2018 Sep24;(9):1441-1448), describes a novel, technically robust, blood-based assay approach to measuring high tumor mutational burden in plasma that is distinct from tissue-based approaches.

“Having three research studies recognized by the Clinical Research Forum is not only a testament to the dedication and talents of Drs. Ducore, Giermasz, McDonald and Gandara, it also reflects the research excellence of our entire health system,” said David Lubarsky, vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and CEO of UC Davis Health. “Every study we do, every paper our faculty members publish, involves a team of skilled individuals, all working toward a common goal of improving health for all.”

The studies were evaluated by a forum committee that considered the following criteria:

  • Degree of innovation and creativity involved and its advancement of the science in a specific area;
  • Contribution to the understanding of human disease and/or human physiology;
  • Potential impact upon the diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment or increased understanding of the disease state;

McDonald is an internationally recognized expert in the clinical management and rehabilitation of neuromuscular diseases, with a special focus on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He established a nationally recognized center at UC Davis Health that brought together a multidisciplinary team of specialty care physicians in diverse disciplines such as neuromuscular medicine, pediatric pulmonary medicine and pediatric cardiology to provide evidence-based approaches to treating Duchenne and similar conditions.

Gandara has been called a “giant of cancer care” in lung cancer in recognition of his work to advance the field of oncology through research and clinical practice. He is renowned internationally for his work designing and leading clinical trials of new treatments as well as in the development of pre-clinical animal models of lung cancer. Until last year, he served as the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s senior advisor for experimental therapeutics and led the effort to advance leading-edge approaches to lung cancer treatment, including targeted therapies.

The Clinical Research Forum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing leadership to the national clinical and translational research enterprise and promoting understanding and support for clinical research and its impact on health and healthcare.
All the honorees have been invited to attend the forum’s annual awards event at the National Press Club in March in Washington, D.C.