Each year, the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine awards its Next Generation Fellowships to promising early career professionals in a range of medical genetics and genomics specialties, including biochemical genetics, and for the first time this year, laboratory genetics and genomics and ophthalmic genetics. . Support for this year’s class of fellows was generously provided by Bionano Genomics, Spark Therapeutics, Takeda, and Sanofi-Genzyme. The ACMG Foundation depends on corporate donations to support these and many other vital programs and thanks all members of our Business Partner Program.
“There has never been a more exciting time in our field of genetic and genomic medicine, with new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of rare and common diseases. The need to train the next generation of clinical and laboratory geneticists has never been greater, so we are especially grateful to Pfizer for their continued support of the Next Generation Fellowship Award,” said Bruce R. Korf, MD, PhD, FACMG, President of the ACMG Foundation.
Fellowship in Medical Biochemical Genetics:
Ibrahim Elsharkawi, MD/MB BCh BAO (NUI), Boston Children’s Hospital
Ibrahim Elsharkawi, MD/MB BCh BAO (NUI) is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. He grew up in an international community in the Middle East and was fascinated by genetics from an early age. Dr. Elsharkawi attended a combined undergraduate and medical school in a constituency of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland based in the Kingdom of Bahrain (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Bahrain), which provided him with a “best of both worlds”. to medicine. After graduating and completing a year of general internship, he worked for two years in research at the Division of Genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a combined four-year residency in pediatrics and medical genetics at the Washington University in St. Louis. During his training, he discovered a deep passion for biochemical genetics, encompassing mitochondrial medicine. Dr. Elsharkawi is currently completing a one-year fellowship in Mitochondrial Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), which will be followed by a one-year fellowship in Medical Biochemical Genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital, to help him in his quest to become a biochemical geneticist. which is able to provide holistic and comprehensive care to rare disease patients in a rapidly changing era of medical genetics.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have received this prestigious award from the ACMG Foundation, which will allow me to take what I am learning during my current fellowship in mitochondrial medicine and apply it to my fellowship in genetics medical biochemistry. My dream of becoming a medical geneticist in the United States began when I first set foot in the United States in 2013 as a visiting medical student on rotation at Massachusetts General Hospital. Since then, I have been blessed to have embarked on an incredible journey that has taken me to various parts of the country that I now call home, enjoying tremendous mentorship and meaningful interactions with the patients who live with me. have guided my current passions into innate errors. of metabolism. We are all here for our patients, and I am truly grateful for this opportunity to build and grow as a biochemical geneticist, to better serve our patients and their caregivers,” said Dr. Elsharkawi after receiving the ACMG Foundation Award. Next Generation.
Jessica Priestley, MD, PhD, VSPhiladelphia Children’s Hospital
Jessica Priestley, MD, PhD is currently completing her combined pediatrics/medical genetics training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she is a chief resident. She will remain at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for her medical biochemistry fellowship next year. She received her doctorate in physiology from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she received the Summa Cum Laude award in physiology. She earned her MD from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha and Gold Humanism Honor Societies. She is the author of 11 peer-reviewed publications, one editorial and two book chapters. Dr. Priestley looks forward to a clinical practice in biochemical genetics that will satisfy both her passion for patient/family centered care and her curiosity about how to provide optimal care for patients with rare diseases.
Upon receiving the ACMG Foundation Next Generation Award, Dr. Priestley said, “I am delighted and honored by the support that the ACMG Foundation Next Generation Award provides to both my professional development and my research interests in providing genetic care. of high quality to diverse populations. I thank the selection committee for this recognition, my team of mentors throughout my training who served as role models and nurtured my sense of curiosity, in particular Dr. Rebecca Ganetzky, my inspiring patients and their families, and my own family, especially my daughter Rosalyn.
Laboratory genetics and genomics research grant:
Nikhil Sahajpal, PhD, Greenwood Genetics Center
Nikhil Sahajpal, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Pathology at Augusta University, GA. Dr. Sahajpal obtained his PhD from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India in 2020 where his doctoral research work focused on “Understanding the Pathophysiology of Diabetic Retinopathy”. Dr. Sahajpal has received several international awards including Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Senior Research Fellowship Award (by Government of India), Developing Country Eye Research Fellowship (DECRF) Award from Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (2017) and second place in the Best Technologist Award at the Cancer Genomics Consortium Annual Meeting for two consecutive years (2020 and 2021). He has published 35 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals using various molecular and cytogenetic methodologies for prenatal, postnatal, and hematological malignancies. As the world battled the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sahajpal played a key role in establishing FDA-EUA approved diagnostic tests and research on COVID-19 at the University of Augusta and is a key contributor to the COVID-19 Host Genome SV Consortium. Dr. Sahajpal begins his ABMGG LGG Fellowship at the ACGME Accredited Program at Greenwood Genetic Center in July 2022.
Dr. Sahajpal said after receiving the award, “As a tenured ABMGG LGG Fellow at the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) in Greenwood, SC, I feel thrilled and honored to receive this prestigious Next Generation Fellowship and Training Award from ACMG Foundation. I am honored by this incredible opportunity given to me by the ACMG Foundation Selection Committee to pursue my career development in the field of laboratory genetics and genomics at the GGC. I am proud to be part of the ACMG community as I begin my internship at the GGC to become a laboratory director to advance clinical diagnostic testing and support patients and families impacted by genetic disorders.
Fellowship in ophthalmic genetics:
Emile Vieta, MD, University of California, Los Angeles – Jules Stein Eye Institute
Emile Vieta, MD is a Magna Cum Laude graduate in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. After graduate studies in physical chemistry, he obtained his medical degree with distinction at the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine. His interest in research motivated him to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in the Pediatric, Developmental, and Genetic Ophthalmology Section of the National Eye Institute of the NIH, under the supervision of Dr. Brian P. Brooks. He has been active in international medical missions in several countries and enjoys traveling and salsa dancing. As the first EyeSTAR Genetics intern, Emile will train in ophthalmology and medical genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles. After his residency, he plans to pursue a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology with the ultimate goal of returning to Puerto Rico to work as a clinician and researcher.
“It is truly an honor to receive this award. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my family, my colleagues, my mentors, the ACMG and the ACMGF. It is a privilege to learn and work in this field and to have the support of such wonderful mentors. I look forward to the work ahead,” said Dr. Vieta after receiving the award.
About the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine
The ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a community of supporters and contributors who understand the importance of medical genetics and genomics in healthcare . Established in 1992, the ACMG Foundation supports the mission of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) to “translate genes into health”. Through its work, the ACMG Foundation encourages charitable donations, promotes educational opportunities to attract future medical geneticists and genetic counselors to the field, shares information about medical genetics and genomics, and sponsors important research. To learn more and support the ACMG Foundation’s mission to create “better health through genetics”, visit www.acmgfoundation.org.
Note to Editors: To arrange interviews with experts in medical genetics and genomics, contact ACMG Senior Director of Public Relations Kathy Moran, MBA at [email protected]