Louisville Business First has recognized Norton Healthcare and Norton Children’s research team members with its 2024 Health Care Heroes Innovator Award

Louisville Business First has recognized researchers at Norton Healthcare with its 2024 Health Care Heroes Innovator Award.

Louisville Business First has recognized researchers at Norton Healthcare with its 2024 Health Care Heroes Innovator Award.

The award honors those who break ground in the health care field by developing or implementing new technology, treatments or programs with wide applications.

Award recipients were

Shirish Barve, Ph.D., chief research scientist, Norton Neuroscience InstituteNorton Research Institute and Norton Neuroscience Institute Cressman Parkinson’s Research

Shirish Barve, Ph.D., long has been an international leader in the field of the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis. As the lead of the newly established Norton Neuroscience Institute Cressman Parkinson’s Research team, Dr. Barve heads efforts to expand clinical research on the role of the gut microbiome in neurodegenerative diseases.

In the past two years, Dr. Barve has laid the groundwork for combining neuroscience research in various areas, including autism, Parkinson’s disease, perioperative delirium and Alzheimer’s disease. Through collaborations with leading scientists across the country and with the expertise of clinicians at Norton Neuroscience Institute, he is developing novel research programs to investigate the role of the gut microbiome in the development of cognitive impairment, including in common conditions like delirium after surgery and dementia. These initial studies may then lead to the development of precision medicine approaches to treatment and ultimately prevention of these disabling neurological diseases.

John T. Hamm, M.D., medical oncologist, director of Norton Cancer Institute’s research program; chairman, Norton Hospital Cancer Committee, Norton Cancer Institute

John T. Hamm, M.D., a founding member of Norton Cancer Institute and medical director of its research program, embodies a commitment to pioneering oncological advancements. As medical director, he oversees Norton Cancer Institute’s research portfolio of studies, and his leadership has been pivotal in developing Norton Healthcare’s solid tumor early phase research program, elevating care standards through innovative therapies.

Dr. Hamm champions cancer research, advocating for lifesaving advancements in this field. His pursuit to prevent, detect, diagnose and ultimately cure cancer has led to remarkable strides in oncology. Dr. Hamm leads our early phase research protocols that encompass complex trial design with advanced precision medicine treatments and extensive patient safety monitoring. These are the first in-human studies of these drugs. Many of these trials include dose-escalation protocols, whereby groups (or cohorts) of patients are given the trial drug in different dose levels. This takes extra time and attention for each patient, and Dr. Hamm dedicates much of his clinic day managing their complex care and assisting patients through treatment. As principal investigator across multiple trials and a contributing author to over 130 publications, Dr. Hamm has made contributions that significantly advance cancer care literature.

Dr. Hamm’s leadership and Norton Healthcare’s unwavering support have transformed our community’s medical landscape. Patients now access cutting-edge trials locally, eliminating the need for burdensome travels in search of innovative treatments.

Patients seeking access to cutting-edge trials now journey from out of state and even internationally, recognizing Louisville, Kentucky, as a hub for the advanced therapies and the hope these trials offer. Dr. Hamm’s tenure has witnessed the research program’s involvement in trials resulting in treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), delivering significant breakthroughs and life-altering results for enrolled participants.

Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D.pediatric endocrinologist, Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine; executive director, Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, a part of Norton Healthcare and Norton Children’s

Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., supports pediatric patients with diabetes and endocrine conditions, including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes; thyroid disease; disorders of growth; precocious and delayed puberty; and adrenal disorders; through Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

Through his leadership, Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute continuously innovates to bring new treatments to children and adults with diabetes. Under Dr. Wintergerst’s leadership, Norton Children’s has become a leading program nationally in pediatric diabetes and endocrinology. A major driver of this recognition has been Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute’s innovative program testing and implementing new devices and medications with the potential to improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents with diabetes. Dr. Wintergerst has served as the principal investigator for multiple multisite research studies evaluating these new therapies. In a notable example, Dr. Wintergerst led the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute site for a study testing the efficacy of a new drug infusion designed to delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes in children recognized to be at risk of developing this condition. This treatment subsequently received FDA approval, and Dr. Wintergerst recently administered it to Kentucky’s first child to receive it as an approved medication.

Through his leadership, Norton Children’s Endocrinology created the nation’s first sports medicine program to optimize the health of children and adolescents with diabetes who also want to be active in sports. The Christensen Family Sports & Activity Program is a combined clinical care and research program that seeks to help athletes with diabetes learn how to manage their blood sugar during intense sporting activities, while at the same time gathering critical information to design new interventions for this population. In a national and international first, the Christensen Family Sports & Activity Program performance evaluation lab makes it possible to monitor the blood sugar, insulin levels and other critical metrics of diabetic patients while using exercise equipment, including, for example, a treadmill.

In order to make all of this innovation possible, Dr. Wintergerst works tirelessly to recruit other innovators — especially physician-scientists — to Louisville. Through Dr. Wintergerst’s initiative, children  and adolescents with diabetes and endocrine conditions in Louisville and the surrounding region are now able to receive treatment from national leaders in care and innovation.

Manager Award

This award honors leaders ranging from the head of a small company or organization to an executive in a major health system.

Lauren Whelan, director, clinical research, Norton Cancer Institute

Lauren Whelan is director, clinical research for Norton Cancer Institute. Lauren provides leadership and direction to a team of 30 physicians and 45 clinical research nurses/coordinators who are responsible for identifying and executing oncology clinical trials to serve patients and families. This portfolio of studies includes more than 180 clinical trials that are active at any time. She guides strategic planning as well as implements and evaluates quality improvement initiatives to strengthen the cancer research program. This allows Norton Cancer Institute to provide more cutting-edge therapies to this community through research and to offer the highest level of care to our research participants.

Under Lauren’s leadership, the clinical research team that manages Norton Cancer Institute research trials has more than tripled in number. The number of research participants enrolled in clinical trials has increased over 300%, and Norton Cancer Institute’s Phase 1 trial portfolio and enrollment has increased by 400%. Lauren is responsible for developing and monitoring standard operating procedures and ensuring that her team is compliant with regulations, policies and processes. Thanks to the high quality of the program, Norton Cancer Institute has been invited to participate in multiple trials that have only a few sites globally and often is the only nonacademic center invited to participate in a trial.

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