Duane Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., is the 2022 recipient of the College of Medicine Clinical Science Research Award. The award is given for research that has a close connection to clinical medicine and/or has an impact on the delivery of patient care. Mitchell is the Phyllis Kottler Friedman Professor in the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery, the co-director of the Preston A. Wells Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy at UF Health and director of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He also serves as assistant vice president for research and associate dean for translational science and clinical research at UF.
Mitchell is a leading expert in the development of innovative immunotherapy treatments for adults and children with malignant brain tumors. He has pioneered many novel brain tumor immunotherapies that have been translated into first-in-human clinical trials and multicenter phase 2 studies. He has received over $40 million in research awards as principal investigator and has been continuously funded by the NIH for his cancer research since 2009. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense and numerous private foundations, and he is an inventor on more than 25 patents for novel cancer therapeutics.
“It is an honor to receive this award, which truly is a reflection of the amazing environment here at UF, the incredible team of people I am lucky enough to work with and hopefully an effort that is worthy of such good fortune,” Mitchell said.
Karyn Esser, Ph.D., is the 2022 recipient of the College of Medicine Basic Science Research Award. The award is given for research that contributes to the understanding of the fundamental underlying principles of biology and medicine. Esser is the Preeminence Professor for the department of physiology and functional genomics, associate director for muscle biology in the UF Myology Institute and assistant program director at the Institute on Aging.
“There are a number of fantastic basic science researchers across the university, so it really is an honor to receive this award, and I’m grateful for the recognition,” she said. “As basic scientists, we may not be studying direct clinical problems, but we’re working to identify the biology that can eventually be brought into the clinical side to create therapeutics and other ways to help people.”
Esser is a trailblazer in the study of circadian rhythms in the skeletal muscle system, which came to be after a serendipitous discovery that genes controlling the body’s “biological clock” also played a role in muscle function. This discovery completely changed the trajectory of her research.
She has since devoted herself to understanding how circadian rhythms regulate muscle structure and function. Thanks to her seminal studies, circadian rhythm research in muscle has grown exponentially over the last 20 years and expanded beyond basic science discoveries and into the realm of clinical interventions for muscle conditions associated with chronic disease and aging.