Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Ochsner Health has announced the recipients of the 38th Annual Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease. They are Ken J. Kellar, Ph.D, Professor of Pharmacology, Georgetown University Medical Center, and Ryan E. Hibbs, Ph.D., Professor of Neurobiology, University of California San Diego.
This prestigious honor bestowed by Ochsner Health recognizes scientists who have made major contributions in understanding the relationship between smoking and disease, along with the development of innovative treatment modalities. The award is named in honor of Alton Ochsner, MD, the co-founder of the Ochsner Clinic (now known as Ochsner Health) based in New Orleans. In 1939, Dr. Ochsner published the first evidence indicating that tobacco smoking was the major cause of lung cancer.
Dr. Kellar pioneered the study of nicotine receptors and discovered important aspects of their biology and regulation—including receptor up-regulation by chronic nicotine.
“It is an honor to receive this award for my lab’s work investigating nicotine receptors,” said Dr. Kellar. “The ability to determine targets for the treatment of nicotine addiction is an important advancement in the fight against smoking-related disease.”
Dr. Hibbs performed detailed crystallographic and electron microscopy studies of nicotine receptors, which studied atomic-level molecular structures and revealed previously unappreciated aspects of their function. The work of both these scientists points the way for the development of more effective means of treating nicotine addiction and thereby reducing smoking and smoking-related disease.
“Understanding the function and makeup of nicotine receptors is key to making advancements in the treatment of nicotine addiction,” said Dr. Hibbs. “It’s an honor to be selected for this award and to be recognized for advancing efforts to reduce smoking rates in populations throughout the United States.”
As the 2023 honorees, Drs. Kellar and Hibbs will each receive a $7500 honorarium, an award medallion, and a plaque describing their key research findings.
Smoking cessation remains a priority for the collaborative Healthy State initiative, a collaboration between Ochsner and partners in government, non-profit and business organizations to create healthier, happier and more productive communities, with health equity at the forefront of these efforts. Together, Healthy State members from every sector bring resources to underserved communities in order to better understand the impact of social conditions on health and to utilize data, technology and innovation to improve outcomes.
“Ochsner Health is honored to support researchers who make critical advancements in innovative treatments of complex healthcare issues, especially those related to smoking cessation and disease prevention, because we know collaboration is key to improving the health and wellness of our communities,” said Leonardo Seoane, MD, Chief Academic Officer for Ochsner Health. “We commend Drs. Kellar and Hibbs for their critical advancements in understanding the regulation and function of nicotine receptors as they relate to cessation efforts.”
For a list of previous Ochsner Award recipients click here: https://research.ochsner.org/opportunities/research-awards/the-alton-ochsner-award-relating-smoking-and-disease
About Ochsner Health
Ochsner Health is an integrated healthcare system with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Celebrating more than 80 years of service, it leads nationally in cancer care, cardiology, neurosciences, liver and kidney transplants and pediatrics, among other areas. Ochsner is consistently named both the top hospital and top children’s hospital in Louisiana by U.S. News & World Report. The not-for-profit organization is inspiring healthier lives and stronger communities through its Healthy State initiative, a bold and collaborative plan to realize a healthier Louisiana. Its focus is on preventing diseases and providing patient-centered care that is accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner Health pioneers new treatments, deploys emerging technologies and performs groundbreaking research, including 4,000 patients enrolled in 685 clinical studies in 2022. It has more than 37,000 employees and over 4,700 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It operates 46 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Gulf South; and its cutting-edge Connected Health digital medicine program is caring for patients beyond its walls. In 2022, Ochsner Health treated more than 1.4 million people from every state and 62 countries. As Louisiana’s top healthcare educator of physicians, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. To learn more, visit https://www.ochsner.org/.