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Neuro-gastroenterology Researcher Receives VA’s Middleton Award

Yvette Taché was given the 2014 William S. Middleton Award on May 15 at a ceremony in Washington DC, for her research into the relationship between stress and gastrointestinal function.

Yvette Taché

The award is the highest honor awarded by the Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service to senior US Veteran’s Administration (VA) biomedical research scientists. Recipients receive a personal cash award of $5000 and additional $50,000/y for 3 y in research support.

The last year a woman received this award was 1962.

Taché, a Professor of Medicine for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is also co-director for the Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Women’s Health at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. She has been a leader in the development of field of neuro-gastroenterology and helped develop experimental models of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Taché’s research has helped to elucidate mechanisms of stress-related autonomic dysfunction, including functional disorders such as IBS, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and gastroparesis. Stress is an important component of disorders that affect the Veteran’s population. 

A press release from the US Department of Veterans Affairs explained how her research increased our understanding of central nervous system control of peripheral autonomic pathways that affect gastrointestinal function.

The Office for Science & Technology at the Embassy of France in the United States explained that her research of the neuroanatomical and neurochemical substrates by which the brain communicates with the digestive tract has led to development of treatments for many functional problems related to gastrointestinal stress.

The award was established in 1960 to honor William S. Middleton—a distinguished educator and physician scientist. He was the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Chief Medical Director from 1955 to 1963.

“This award means a lot to me. It is also the recognition of the new field of neuro-gastroenterology that was not as prominent when I started my research,” said Taché, who plans to use the money from the award to pursue new line of research.

Taché began her research career at the Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France, and completed her PhD at the University of Montréal under the direction of Hans Selye. His laboratory was one of the first to recognize that stress affected physiologic functions.

After accepting a faculty position at the University of Montréal, Taché received a Centennial Fellowship from the Medical Research Council of Canada to study at the Peptide Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, in La Jolla, CA. There, Taché learned about peptide signaling in the nervous system, and rapidly developed an interest how peptides regulate gut function.

Taché moved to Los Angeles, where she is now a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Her many academic appointments include co-director of the NIH’s NIDDK Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women’s Health, Co-Director of the UCLA Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and Director of UCLA’s CURE Animal Models Core.

Taché has received many prestigious awards including a NIDDK Merit Award, a Janssen Award for Basic Research in Gastrointestinal Motility, a Distinguished Research Award in Gastrointestinal Physiology from the American Physiology Society, Senior Investigator Award from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, and a Senior Research Career Scientist Award from the VA.

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Kristine Novak

Kristine Novak

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About The Author:

Dr. Kristine Novak

Dr. Kristine Novak

Dr. Kristine Novak is a science writer and editor based in San Francisco. She has extensive experience covering gastroenterology, hepatology, immunology, oncology, clinical, and biotechnology research discoveries.

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