Newswise — The American Thyroid Association has awarded a 2017 Research Grant to Marco Medici, MD, PhD, MSc, a clinical fellow in endocrinology at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In his project, “Personalized Management of Thyroid Disease,” Dr. Medici will create a prediction model to estimate an individual patient’s TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) setpoint, which should ultimately lead to personalized care for both hyper- and hypothyroid-diseased patients.
Presently, we treat thyroid disease by attempting to normalize serum TSH levels to within average-population-based ranges. However, individual variabilities lie within much narrower ranges, leaving roughly 15% of thyroid patients with continuing, often disabling symptoms of their diseases and an impaired quality of life. In addition, even subtle variations in thyroid function are associated with cardiovascular disease and mortality. Therefore, it is important to normalize TSH levels to the individual patient’s unique TSH setpoint, dictated by his or her hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis. To measure that setpoint, we need to know the patient’s TSH and free thyroxine (FT4) levels before the onset of thyroid disease. Without a sense of those predisease levels, we cannot know what to aim for post-onset. Unfortunately, pre-disease levels are not available in most patients.
Dr. Medici’s research focuses on the genetic basis of the HPT axis. To perform large-scale genetic studies, he initiated an international consortium, which now includes 34 centers with available (epi)genetic and thyroid function data for >80,000 participants. The consortium has identified many new genetic determinants of TSH levels. For this grant project, he will use these markers to:
- Create a TSH-setpoint prediction model in thyroid-disease-free populations.
- Reclassify thyroid function using the prediction model and test the effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality.
- Test the model in thyroid-disease patients.
Dr. Medici completed his PhD (cum laude) in 2014 and did a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.
Dr. Motoyasu Saji, Chair, ATA Research Committee, says, “The ATA research grant program supports young scientists in thyroid-related research, including clinical, translational, and basic areas. Every year we receive over 50 grant applications from various countries. We are excited to see young thyroid researchers who attack current clinical problems and basic scientific questions using state-of-the-art technologies, new ideas, and new views. Many current leaders in the ATA were award recipients, which shows how important this program is for us. We hope these grants will be gateways to success in their careers as thyroid researchers and that the recipients will become leaders in the next generation of the ATA. Finally, we appreciate all the support we receive from members and various organizations, including thyroid cancer survivors, which makes it possible to create this excellent program.”
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) has awarded 92 thyroid research grants totaling over $2.4 million since the inception of the Research Fund. In addition, the ATA rigorously manages the selection of research projects and the distribution of over $1.8 million generously donated to the ATA specifically for research grants from: ThyCa, the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.; Bite Me Cancer; and the Thyroid Head and Neck Cancer Foundation.
The Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. (ThyCa), has provided funding since 2003 in support of 67 special research grants totaling $1,881,250 focused on thyroid cancer and medullary thyroid cancer. ThyCa is supporting three research grants in 2017 and four renewing grants. ThyCa is a member of the ATA Alliance for Patient Education. Find out more at www.thyca.org.
Bite Me Cancer (BMC) is our newest grant funder, supporting seven thyroid cancer grants since 2014 for a total of $201,250. BMC will be supporting a new thyroid cancer grant in 2017 and one renewing grant. BMC is a member of the ATA Alliance for Patient Education. Find out more at www.bitemecancer.org.
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the leading worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer. ATA is an international, individual membership organization for over 1,700 clinicians and researchers from 43 countries around the world, representing a broad diversity of medical disciplines. It also serves the public, patients and their families through education and awareness efforts.
Celebrating its 94th anniversary, ATA delivers its mission through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded monthly journals, THYROID, Clinical Thyroidology, VideoEndocrinology, and Clinical Thyroidology for the Public; annual scientific meetings; biennial clinical and research symposia; research grant programs for young investigators; support of online professional, public, and patient educational programs; and the development of guidelines for clinical management of thyroid disease.
Find out more about ATA at www.thyroid.org.