Feinstein Institute’s CEO, Kevin Tracey, Wins Top Honor for Work into Inflammation

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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Kevin J. Tracey, MD, CEO and president of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, is the winner of the Frederik B. Bang Award for his work on controlling inflammation in the treatment of diseases such as a lupus.

Bestowed by The International Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society (IEIIS) as its highest honor, the award was established by the Stanley Watson Foundation to recognize significant research to the endotoxin and innate immunity fields. It honors Frederick B. Bang (1916–81), a biomedical researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Tracey’s work has focused on the molecular basis of inflammation, and the physiological and immunological response to infection and injury. During his years of extensive research, he proposed a mechanism by which the brain and the vagus nerve control the immune system, which he termed as “inflammatory reflex.”

Discoveries made by Tracey and his colleagues enabled the development of devices to replace anti-inflammatory drugs. This new field, termed bioelectronic medicine, utilizes electrical stimulation delivered to neurons to modulate pathogenic targets in inflammatory diseases. Bioelectronic medicine has demonstrated success in treating  conditions where inflammation plays a critical role, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Dr. Tracey’s longstanding commitment to understanding the immune system and his breakthrough findings concerning the inflammatory reflex have had an ongoing impact on fields ranging from immunology to neuroscience,” Jack Levin, MD, chairman of the Bang Award Committee, said in a press release. “Dr. Tracey joins an elite group of past Bang Award recipients … and we look forward to following his continuing work.”

Tracey is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He is also the co-founder and councilor of the Global Sepsis Alliance.

“It’s a great honor to receive the Bang Award,” said Tracey. “It recognizes many years of research leading to the development of Bioelectronic Medicine as a new means of addressing the critical role inflammation plays in disease. This work has not been done in isolation, however. None of it, including this honor, would be possible without the careful and dedicated research of my outstanding colleagues at the Feinstein Institute and other centers of research and learning in bioelectronic medicine.”