New Awardees for Osher Research Pilot Grants

Posted On: July 20th, 2017

Aterah Nusrat

The Osher Center is pleased to announce its most recent cohort of Osher Research Pilot Awardees, benefiting from a total of $100,000 pilot funding between them:

Michelle Dosset, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dhruv Singhal, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Jessica Whited, PhD; Jessica Lehoczky, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The research awards provide seed grants to support collaborative projects consistent within the Osher Center thematic areas of musculoskeletal health, healthy aging, and mind-body exercise. The purpose of the program is to provide early funding for innovative projects.

With the funding period starting in September 2017, this year’s recipients represent the fourth generation of awardees.


Michelle Dossett, MD, PhD, MPH
Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Assistant Physician, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital

A SMART Approach to Reducing Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms:

“Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia with a lifetime risk of 1 in 6 individuals, an its incidence increases with age. AF is associated with increased risk of stroke as well as increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, regardless of stroke history. AF occurs in both permanent and paroxysmal (PAF) forms. Approximately one-third of patients with AF have depression and/or anxiety…Large epidemiologic studies have demonstrated an association between chronic stress and development of AF. Moreover, in patients with PAF, acute stress and negative emotions (e.g. sadness, anger, anxiety, and impatience) increase the likelihood of an AF episode 2-5 fold, whereas happiness decreases the likelihood of AF by 85%…[We] recently completed a small, pre-post study delivering the Benson-Henry Institute’s (BHI) Stress-Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) Program to patients with PAF…This application seeks to expand our preliminary findings using a randomized, wait-list controlled trial design to test the effects of the SMART Program on quality of life, mental health, arrhythmia burden, and heart rate variability in patients with PAF.”

Dhurv Singhal, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School,
Director of Lymphatic Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medial Center

Acupuncture for Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema: A Pilot Study

“Lymphedema affects 140 million people worldwide and three million patients suffer from this disease in the United States alone. An important sub-population is patients with breast cancer related lymphedema (BCRL), which affects over 400,000 patients in the United States…While early data has demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture for BCRL, the mechanism of action is poorly understood. Lymphedema is a progressive disorder that is initiated by inflammation and progresses to fibrosis. Morevoer, as inflammation progresses in one region of the body, a systemic alteration in lymphatic function has been observed but is also poorly understood. Current avenues of basic science research are geared towards localizing molecular targets for inflammation and/or fibrosis in or order to potentially prevent and/or treat lymphedema. The goal of this proposal is to demonstrate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of acupuncture for BCRL while beginning to explore the mechanistic underpinnings of this treatment.”

Jessica Whited, PhD
Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital



Jessica Lehoczky, PhD
Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital


Translating Discoveries from Regeneration Studies into Novel Biomarkers for Prognosis of Traumatic Limb Injuries

“Traumatic limb injuries are a significant health concern and account for approximately 50% of the major limb amputations performed in the US…Biomarkers capable of assessing the tissue healing capacity of orthopedic trauma patients are desperately needed, and would be extremely valuable for physicians needing to make critical treatment decisions with a huge impact on the patient, such as limb amputation versus limb salvage. Identification of useful biomarkers from human patient cohorts is difficult due to population and injury heterogeneity, thus we propose identifying candidate biomarkers from non-human vertebrates capable of varying degrees of limb regeneration. This project also has the potential to integrate molecular information across physiological systems. While limbs are grossly part of the musculoskeletal system, successful tissue-healing following limb amputation/salvage relies on the intricate interplay of numerous physiological systems (immune, circulatory, nervous, etc.) This proposal develops a molecular tool for predicating patient healing prognoses, which will assist surgeons in limb amputation/salvage decisions, as well as ultimately benefit the healing and well-being of patients who have suffered limb trauma.”

The next request for applications will open January 1st, 2018. Funding will start September, 2018. Learn more about the eligibility criteria, and application process for the Osher Pilot Research Awards.

Other opportunities for funding include Pre-Doctoral Fellowships and Post-Doctoral Fellowships. Learn more about funding Opportunities at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.