VA San Diego Healthcare System
Local Researcher Wins Top Award
The VA Office of Research and Development recently announced that Dr. Kirk Hammond is the recipient of the VA Biomedical Research & Development Senior Clinician Scientist Investigator Award for his work on gene transfer to treat heart failure and insulin resistance.
“We’re very proud of Dr. Hammond and his team for their progress developing new possible therapies for various issues that affect millions of Americans every year,” said Dr. Robert Smith, VA San Diego Healthcare System director. “His work represents the important advances VA research is making every day in the progression of care options.”
Dr. Hammond participates in gene transfer of beneficial peptides and proteins in animal model studies as a therapy for treating heart disease and insulin resistance. His work has resulted in five randomized clinical trials of gene therapy for heart disease. One such trial showed improvements in systolic and diastolic heart function, reducing heart failure hospitalizations. The program received fast track status from the FDA and is set for more extensive trials. In another study, Hammond showed that intracoronary delivery of an adenovirus-associated virus-encoded peptide provided a long-term resolution of insulin resistance in rodent models of insulin resistance.
The award allows for a merit award extension of up to four additional years for the Senior Clinician Scientist Award. It is contingent upon a satisfactory non-competing review after the first three years of funding. Dr. Hammond plans to use the additional funding to extend preclinical studies.
Dr. Hammond has made remarkable contributions to VHA through his continuous service as a staff physician and researcher at the VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) since 1987 and a professor of Medicine in Residence at the University of California San Diego. He was the recipient of the 2017 Middleton Award, which serves as a strong testimony of his efforts on behalf of VA basic and translational research and clinical service.
While the Senior Clinician Scientist Investigator Award is still a relatively new program from BLR&D, beginning in 2018, Dr. Hammond is already the second VA San Diego researcher to have won the award. The first was awarded to Dr. Michael Bouvet in 2019 for significant discoveries regarding the development of tumor-specific imaging probes for fluorescence-guided surgery. These discoveries allow surgeons to obtain more complete resections by accurately visualizing tumor margins in the operating room.