Kozel named NIH clinical research scholar


Beth Kozel, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Genetics and Genomic Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named a 2015 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Lasker Clinical Research Scholar.

Kozel, whose genetic research focuses on rare vascular diseases, is one of five U.S. clinical scientists recruited this year as a Lasker Scholar, a joint initiative between the NIH and the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, the latter of which has promoted medical research since 1942.

The program allows promising early-stage scientists to conduct research for five to seven years at NIH facilities, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. Kozel’s research will be based at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Kozel’s research involves genetic analysis of children with rare vascular diseases such as Williams syndrome, a neurodevelopmental condition that can cause serious blood vessel complications. “The bulk of Williams syndrome patients are missing the same piece of DNA, but their disease symptoms manifest differently,” she said. “The hope is to predict which patients will have severe disease and to design effective treatments for them.

“The Lasker program provides an exciting opportunity to continue the translational research I began at WUSM,” added Kozel, who, as an adjunct assistant professor at the School of Medicine, will continue to see patients at the Williams Syndrome Clinic at St. Louis Children’s Hospital but has relocated to the Washington area, where the NIH is based.

“NIH hopes to serve as a catalyst for a national effort to nurture clinician-scientists by providing these talented scholars with the opportunities and protected research time they need to thrive,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “With 10 total scholars, it’s thrilling to see the Lasker Scholar Program vision taking flight.”

Kozel earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Washington University, where she also completed her medical residency and fellowship before joining the faculty in 2010.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.