A VA Maryland Health Care System Researcher Recognized with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

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One of 38 recipients from Maryland, Christopher M. Jewell, PhD, a researcher at the VA Maryland Health Care System has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his work on a 5-year project his lab launched at the University of Maryland College Park, where he is jointly appointed.

Christopher M. Jewell, PhD, a researcher at the VA Maryland Health Care System, has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

“While vaccines have had an extraordinary impact on global health, challenging diseases like MS and cancer need more specific and potent therapies that mimic some of the durability and selectivity of traditional vaccines,” said Jewell.

One of 38 recipients from Maryland, Christopher M. Jewell, PhD, a researcher at the VA Maryland Health Care System has been awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his work on a 5-year project his lab launched at the University of Maryland College Park, where he is jointly appointed. The project, “Dissecting the role of biomaterials in lymph nodes,” seeks to explore new insights into how advanced technologies such as nanoparticles can be used to better control immune function for infectious disease, cancer and autoimmunity.

“We are thrilled to have a researcher of Dr. Jewell’s caliber working to improve the lives of veterans with his work at the VA Maryland Health Care System,” said Dr. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., director of the health care system. “His work can have a significant impact on veterans struggling with diseases that currently aren’t aided by vaccines.”

Jewell’s project, which he launched as an assistant professor at University of Maryland College Park through the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, helped catalyze the work he now carries out as a VA researcher. At the VA Maryland Health Care System, Jewell’s work will lead to developing new therapies for diseases such as multiples sclerosis (MS) – which disproportionally impacts veterans – characterized by the central nervous system mistakenly attacking the immune system. Jewell and his team hope to use engineered materials to retrain the immune system to prevent this attack and leave the healthy parts of the immune system functional. This is important because the existing drugs for MS do not cure the disease and can leave patients immunocompromised.

“While vaccines have had an extraordinary impact on global health, challenging diseases like MS and cancer need more specific and potent therapies that mimic some of the durability and selectivity of traditional vaccines,” said Jewell of this work.
“What a wonderful achievement,” said Dr. Thomas Hornyak, associate chief of staff of Research and Development at the VA Maryland Health Care System, which managed $26 million in funding in fiscal year 18.

Created in 1996, the PECASE awards recognize exceptional scientists and engineers who show extraordinary potential for leadership on the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century.

The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at three medical centers and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from VAMHCS annually. Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a veteran can do. To enroll for VA health care, interested veterans can call 877-222-8387 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or they can visit http://www.va.gov and clinic on “Apply now for VA health care.”

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Rosalia Scalia
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