American Thyroid Association Awards Research Grant to Kristen R. Vella, Ph.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School

By June 16, 2017 August 7th, 2017 2017 News Releases, News Releases, Thyroid Research Grants

Kristen Vella, PhDSupported by ATA

The ATA is pleased to present a 2016 Research Grant to Kristen Vella, PhD, to support her project entitled “Neuronal Regulation of Hepatic Thyroid Hormone Clearance.” Dr. Vella is an Instructor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Dr. Vella presents a research study intended to identify the subset of neurons that activate thyroid hormone (TH) clearance in the liver during fasting and with weight loss, leading to decreased energy expenditure. These regulatory mechanisms work against efforts to maintain weight loss. A better understanding of the mechanisms and of how certain neurons activate or inhibit hepatic TH clearance could lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets to treat metabolic disorders and aid in weight loss maintenance.

Dr. Vella and colleagues have previously identified specific genes that suppress TH levels during fasting and regulate hepatic TH clearance. She has hypothesized that these genes are express by neurons in the hypothalamus. Through her research project, Dr. Vella will explore the neuronal and downstream signaling pathways that link the hypothalamus and the liver and how those connections may become altered during metabolic disease and weight loss maintenance. Bio

Dr. Motoyasu Saji, Chair, ATA Research Committee says, “The ATA research grant program has been supporting young scientists in various thyroid-related research area, including clinical, translational, and basic areas. Every year we receive over 50 Grant applications from various countries. We excite to see young thyroid researchers, who attack current clinical problems and basic scientific questions using state of art technologies, new ideas, and new views. Many current leaders in the ATA were award recipients and this tells us how this program is important for us. We hope that this grant will be one of gateway to succeed in carrier as thyroid researchers and they will become leaders in next generation in the ATA. Finally, we appreciate all supports from members and various organizations, including cancer survivors, to make us possible creating excellent program.”

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) has awarded 85 thyroid research grants totaling over $2.2 million since the inception of the Research Fund. In addition, the ATA rigorously manages the selection of research projects and distribution of over $1.8 million generously donated to the ATA specifically for research grants from ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., Bite Me Cancer and Thyroid Head and Neck Cancer Foundation. For information on other research grants underway and funded by the ATA, see

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. (ThyCa) has provided funding in support of 60 special research grants totaling $1,680,000 focused on thyroid cancer and medullary thyroid cancer since 2003. ThyCa is supporting three research grants in 2016 and three renewing grants. ThyCa is a member of the ATA Alliance for Patient Education. Find out more at

Bite Me Cancer (BMC) is our newest grant funder supporting five thyroid cancer grants since 2014 for a total of $143,750. BMC will be supporting a new thyroid cancer grant in 2016 and one renewing grant. BMC is a member of the ATA Alliance for Patient Education. Find out more at


The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the leading worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer. ATA is an international individual membership organization for over 1,700 clinicians and researchers from 43 countries around the world, representing a broad diversity of medical disciplines. It also serves the public, patients and their family through education and awareness efforts.

Celebrating its 94th anniversary, ATA delivers its mission through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded monthly journals, THYROID, Clinical Thyroidology, VideoEndocrinology and Clinical Thyroidology for the Public; annual scientific meetings; biennial clinical and research symposia; research grant programs for young investigators, support of online professional, public and patient educational programs; and the development of guidelines for clinical management of thyroid disease.

More information about ATA is found at