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Nov 12, 2018
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Photo courtesy of NYAM (from left): James E. Flynn, chair of the Academy Board of Trustees; Dr. Wendy Chung; Dr. Marc D. Grodman, assistant professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center; and Dr. Judith A. Salerno, Academy President

New York

Dr. Wendy K. Chung, the Kennedy Family Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a clinical and molecular geneticist and physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has received the Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science from The New York Academy of Medicine. The award recognized Dr. Chung for her global leadership in the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases through her work that identified more than 41 new genes for human diseases.

Dr. Chung received the award at the 171st Anniversary Discourse & Awards ceremony, which took place on Nov. 1.

Established in 1929, the Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science supports scientists in biomedicine who have demonstrated extraordinary contributions in biomedical science with a special interest in translating research findings to advance human health.

“I am honored to receive the prestigious Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science, and I do so as the humble representative of the many physicians, scientists, patients and families who have worked together to advance the understanding and treatment of human genetic diseases,” said Dr. Chung, who is also director of the DISCOVER Program at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

A world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases, Dr. Chung’s NIH-funded research focuses on identifying genes related to the development of autism, neurodevelopmental disorders, birth defects including congenital diaphragmatic hernia and congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, cardiomyopathy, obesity, diabetes and breast cancer. Her studies to develop and implement inexpensive newborn screening for spinal muscular atrophy have been instrumental in the nationwide adoption of this test in newborns to enable pre-symptomatic access to treatment.

Dr. Chung is experienced in both the molecular and clinical characterization of the disorders associated with these gene mutations, as well as the integration of these discoveries into clinical practice through the development and implementation of clinical genetic testing.

As director of clinical research at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative and principal investigator of SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research through Knowledge), Dr. Chung works to characterize behavior, brain structure and function in people with genetic variations that may relate to autism. Through these efforts, she has built a community of individuals with autism and their families, working with them to better understand the causes of autism.

She also leads the Precision Medicine Resource in the Irving Institute at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and serves on the Genomics Working Group and Pediatrics Advisory committee for the All of Us precision medicine initiative and on the Council for the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Well-known for her TED talks on autism and genetics, Dr. Chung has received many awards for her renowned research, teaching and mentoring, including the American Academy of Pediatrics Young Investigator Award, the Medical Achievement Award from Bonei Olam, and Columbia University’s highest teaching award, the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Dr. Chung remains committed to integrating genetic medicine into all areas of health care in a medically, scientifically, and ethically sound, accessible and cost-effective manner.

“While I spent the first phase of my career identifying genetic diseases, I am hopeful that this next phase will increasingly focus on the treatment of these conditions and improving the lives of patients and their families,” said Dr. Chung.

To learn more about Dr. Chung’s work, click here.

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