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Groundbreaking Obesity Study Wins National Clinical Research Excellence Award

Thursday, April 21, 2022   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kutia Swinney
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Groundbreaking Obesity Study Wins National Clinical Research Excellence Award


Clinical Research Forum gives top honors to a study that resulted in an FDA-approved obesity drug for chronic weight management in adults with general obesity or overweight; other award-winners include research on the impact of opioid dose tapering on mental health as well as two studies that look at race and kidney disease. 

WASHINGTON--( )--The Clinical Research Forum (CR Forum), a non-profit membership association of top clinical research experts and thought leaders from the nation’s leading academic health centers, today announced that its top honor, the Herbert Pardes Clinical Research Excellence Award, was given to a research team from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine for a groundbreaking study,  Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity.

The Herbert Pardes Clinical Research Excellence Award, with a cash prize of $7,500, is presented to the study that best shows a high degree of innovation and creativity, advances science, and has an impact upon human disease. The study was recognized during the CR Forum’s annual Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards in Chicago. The Top Ten Awards highlight outstanding research advances that involve both innovation and impact on human diseases. A complete list of the 2022 Top Ten Award Winners can be found

Led by Robert F. Kushner, MD, Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and Medical Education, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine the study on the impact of Once-Weekly Semaglutide in adults with general obesity or overweight was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2021. Healthcare providers infrequently consider medication as a treatment option for patients with obesity due to several factors including a lack of training, a misunderstanding of the biological basis of obesity, and a perceived lack of current medications effectiveness and safety. Kushner and his colleagues found that administering 2.4 mg of Semaglutide weekly, for 68 weeks, resulted in an unprecedented average weight loss of 15%, in one-third of participants, which is comparable to the results often obtained from undergoing bariatric surgery. This weight loss was also associated with improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), and enhanced participant-reported physical functioning.

Two additional Distinguished Clinical Research Achievement Awards (one shared), which included a $5,000 cash prize, were presented for their creativity, innovation, and novel approach that demonstrated immediate impact on the health and well-being of patients:

  • Association of Dose Tapering With Overdose or Mental Health Crisis Among Patients Prescribed Long- term Opioids, led by Alicia Agnoli, MD, MPH, MHS, Assistant Professor, Regents of the University of California (Davis), demonstrated that the period of tapering is one of heightened vulnerability for patients on long-term opioid therapy. In efforts to reduce opioid-related harms and improve overall health, clinicians must consider these potential risks associated with tapering and weigh them alongside the risks and benefits of continuing opioid therapy for an individual patient. The findings support a more cautious and supportive approach to decisions around dose adjustments and should bring pause to practices around rapid and involuntary opioid tapering.
  • The second Distinguished Clinical Research Achievement Award honors two studies that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the same day, and will transform the practice of medicine by moving away from the traditional approach of relying on serum creatinine alone to estimate kidney function towards more widespread adoption of cystatin C measurements.

New 'race-free' equation to estimate kidney function, was led by Lesley A. Inker, MD, MS, Director, Kidney and Blood Pressure Center; Associate Professor, Tufts Medical Center; Tufts University School of Medicine. Current equations for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) that use serum creatinine or cystatin C incorporate age, sex, and race to estimate measured GFR. However, race in eGFR equations is a social and not a biologic construct. The researchers developed new eGFR equations without race using data from two development data sets. The new eGFR equations that incorporate creatinine and cystatin C but omit race are more accurate and led to smaller differences between Black participants and non-Black participants than new equations without race with either creatinine or cystatin C alone. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Task Force on Reassessing the Inclusion of Race in Diagnosing Kidney Diseases recommended immediate implementation of this equation in all clinical laboratories in the United States.

Race, Genetic Ancestry, and Estimating Kidney Function in Chronic Kidney Disease, was led by Chi-yuan Hsu, MD, MS, Professor and Division Chief, University of California, San Francisco. Results of this investigation will have a substantial and almost immediate impact on clinical practice. GFR estimation not only guides important clinical decision making, it is also used to track disease epidemiology in the population and define Medicare eligibility for kidney-disease education and other benefits. The study showed the use of the serum creatinine level to estimate the GFR without race (or genetic ancestry) introduced systematic misclassification that could not be eliminated even when numerous non-GFR determinants of the serum creatinine level were accounted for. The estimation of GFR with the use of cystatin C generated similar results while eliminating the negative consequences of the current race-based approaches.

See the press release here!

About the Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards

Recognizing the need to celebrate our nation's clinical research accomplishments that involve both innovation and impact on human disease, the Clinical Research Forum conducts an annual competition to determine the ten outstanding research accomplishments in the United States. These major research advances represent a portion of the annual return on the nation's investment in the health and future welfare of its citizens.

About the Clinical Research Forum and the Clinical Research Foundation

The mission of the Clinical Research Forum is to provide leadership to the national and clinical translational research enterprise and promote understanding and support for clinical research and its impact on health and healthcare. For more information, visit

The Clinical Research Foundation is the charitable arm of the Clinical Research Forum. As a 501(c)(3), gifts to the foundation support the Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards and are tax deductible.