Daniel Roh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery, has received the Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging (K76) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Aging (NIA). The award supports talented new investigators who have begun to establish research programs and through this award will be ready to assume leadership roles in their field of expertise and be well poised to change theory, practice and health outcomes related to the health of older individuals.
As part of this honor, Roh has been awarded a five-year, $1.2M NIA grant for his project, “Targeting Senescence to Improve Wound Healing in Aging.” The award will be utilized to study how cellular senescence (a state where a cell undergoes permanent growth arrest, stops dividing and experiences functional changes) plays a role in normal wound healing but fails to occur during aging, leading to delayed wound healing.
Impaired or delayed wound healing is a major problem affecting primarily older adults. Millions of older adults in the U.S. are impacted every year. Delayed wound healing increases aged patients’ risk of chronic wounds, wound infections, and tissue necrosis, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Wound care is also a rising economic problem with an estimated $10 billion annually spent on treatment for older adults.
Motivated by his clinical encounters and the impact of delayed wound healing on older adults, Roh’s long-term goal is to become an independent surgeon-scientist leader dedicated to advancing translational research in this field. “As an early-career scientist, my initial research endeavors have centered around unraveling the mechanisms of aging, with a specific focus on understanding how senescence influences the wound healing process,” explains Roh who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Boston Medical Center.
Roh’s overall research interests are in acute and chronic wound healing processes and pathologic cutaneous scarring such as hypertrophic scars and keloids. In addition to his investigating the role of senescence, Roh’s research goals also include exploring chronic wounds such as venous ulcers, pressure ulcers, diabetic ulcers and pathologic cutaneous scarring. As a reconstructive surgeon, his clinical practice mirrors his research interests and he sees patients affected by wounds and scars. Along with wound healing, his clinical practice includes both reconstructive surgery for trauma or cancer patients and cosmetic surgery, including face and neck lifts, liposuction and breast surgery.
Roh received his MD and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program and went on to complete the Harvard Combined Plastic Surgery Training Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.
Since 2015, Beeson Scholars are fully funded through the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.
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