Orloff Science Awards

“[At the NHLBI,] we’re encouraged to take on risky projects. Doing research for years, we finally get a breakthrough. It’s just like standing on top of a tall mountain. There’s nothing like that.” - Hong Xu, Ph.D., Orloff Award Winner, 2015

The NHLBI Orloff Science Awards are named in honor of Dr. Jack Orloff, a longtime member of the NHLBI intramural family and scientific director from 1974 to 1988. The awards were initiated in 2011 to recognize achievements in science or scientific groundwork where clear results were seen during the previous calendar year.

The award emphasizes the teamwork within the Division of Intramural Research. This Division’s research is broad and includes investigations into the basic principles of molecular, cellular, and organ-level biology and their relationship to diseases. The Orloff winners are scientists, clinicians, and other individuals who contributed substantively to work in their respective fields, helping to make advances toward healing various diseases. The winners are selected by the NHLBI director and scientific director.

Jack Orloff

Jack Orloff

NHLBI Scientific Director


Arrived at NHLBI in 1950
Described the mechanism of ADH modulation of iron transport via cAMP 1960
LKEM Lab Chief from 1962-1974

- Orloff Science Awards

Robert S. Balaban, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics at the NHLBI, discusses work visualizing the pathway and physiological implications of water permeation across the pressurized arterial wall.

Jaffar M. Khan, BM BCh, staff clinician in the Cardiovascular Intervention Program at the NHLBI, discusses the development of LAMPOON and BASILICA procedures from bench to bedside.

Susan T. Harbison, Ph.D., Earl Stadtman Investigator in the Laboratory of Systems Genetics at the NHLBI, discusses how her lab identified polymorphic variants involved in extreme long and short sleep duration.

Nehal N. Mehta, MD, MSCE, head of the Laboratory of Inflammation and Cardio-Metabolic Diseases at the NHLBI, discusses first in-human work demonstrating that treatment with systemic anti-inflammatory medications improves lipid-rich coronary plaque in inflammatory diseases.

- Orloff Science Awards

Orloff Awards Winners

Haiming Cao, Ph.D. is a biomedical researcher and head of the Laboratory of Obesity and Metabolic Diseases at the NHLBI. His research focuses on trying to understand the complex regulation of energy metabolism and uncover its significance in metabolic physiology and the pathogenesis of metabolic disease. Dr. Cao and his team won the Orloff Award for demonstrating the vital role of long noncoding RNAs in metabolism and for developing a novel approach to study their function in metabolic diseases.

Robert Lederman, M.D.is an interventional cardiologist and head of the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Intervention at NHLBI. The Lederman team won the 2018 Orloff Award for completing a multicenter clinical IDE trial that demonstrated the utility and safety of transcaval TAVR. “Transcaval” access is an alternative to standard femoral artery access for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (“TAVR”) and other procedures that require large catheter access.   It has been performed in over 600 patients so far and continues to be adopted by more sites worldwide. NHLBI has partnered with industry to develop a refined closure device that has entered clinical testing.  The new device, co-developed with Transmural Systems of Andover MA, promises to enhance safety and ease-of-use, and to reduce complications and shorten hospital stays.

Warren Leonard, M.D. is principal investigator and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at the NHLBI. His research focuses on the biology, signaling, and molecular regulation of a key family of cytokines. Dr. Leonard and his team won the Orloff Award for their study of a key skin protein (TSLP) and its ability to fight antibiotic-resistant staph-and strep-based skin infections.

Sonia Nielles-Vallespin, Ph.D. and Team: For work on myocardial microstructural dynamics by in-vivo diffusion tensor cardiac magnetic resonance: preclinical validation and clinical translation in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy

Keir Neuman, Ph.D. is a senior investigator and head of the Laboratory of Single Molecule Biophysics at the NHLBI. His research focuses on enzyme function and regulation. Dr. Neuman and his team won the Orloff Award for their observations of collagen breakdown.

Core Innovation Winners

Light Micrscopy Core: For establishing a world class and renowned Super-Resolution and In Vivo Microscopy Mecca

Proteomics Core: For developing work to allow measurement of the occupancy of S-nitrosylation

Transgenic Core: For developing the capability of using the CRISPR method to generate knockout/knockin mouse models

- Orloff Science Awards

Orloff Award Winners

Nihal Altan-Bonnet, Ph.D. is an Earl Stadtman investigator and the head of the Laboratory of Host-Pathogen Dynamics at the NHLBI. Her research focuses on better understanding the dynamic process of viral DNA replication within the host cell. Dr. Altan-Bonnet and her team won the Orloff Award for work on the mechanism of transmission of enteroviruses.

Brian Glancy, Ph.D. is a tenure track investigator in the Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics at the NHLBI. He is an exercise physiologist studying the molecular mechanisms of muscle energy conversion and power development. Dr. Glancy and his team won the Orloff Award for providing a better understanding of how potential energy is distributed across the muscle cell via a mitochondrial reticulum.

Joel Moss, M.D., Ph.D. is a senior investigator in the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch at the NHLBI. His clinical trial work focuses on the pathogenesis of cystic lung diseases, such as lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare lung disease that mostly affects women of childbearing age. Dr. Moss and his team won the Orloff Award for demonstrating of the effects of therapy, hormonal status, and cell signaling pathways on the detection and characterization of circulating tumor cells in patients with LAM and tuberous sclerosis complex and in models of tumorigenesis.

Orloff Innovation Winners

Toren Finkel, M.D., Ph.D. and Team: For measuring the turnover of intact mitochondria in vivo

Michael S. Hansen, Ph.D. and Team: For work on open source tools provide high performance image reconstruction in a clinical environment

Warren J. Leonard, M.D. and Team: For work demonstrating a critical role for STAT1 in IL-21 signaling

Warren J. Leonard, M.D. and Team: For work describing the first partial agonists for a cytokine and their therapeutic potential

Keji Zhao, Ph.D. and Team: For work on development of single-cell Dnase-sequencing (scDNase-seq)

- Orloff Science Awards

Orloff Award Winners

Manfred Boehm, M.D. is a senior investigator in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the NHLBI. The Boehm Lab’s research interests are to identify and better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying human vascular diseases and to develop new therapeutic approaches. Dr. Boehm and his team won an Orloff Award for investigating how genetic mutations cause a syndrome of sporadic fevers, skin rashes, and recurring strokes beginning early in childhood.

Cynthia Dunbar, M.D. is a senior investigator in the Molecular Hematopoiesis Section. Dr. Dunbar’s research focuses on understanding the process of hematopoiesis in vivo, as well as on optimizing and improving the safety of gene transfer into primary hematopoietic cells for therapeutic purposes. Dr. Dunbar and her team won an Orloff Award for better treatment options for aplastic anemia aimed at stimulating stem cells in the bone marrow to create key blood component.

Stewart Levine, M.D. is a senior investigator in the Laboratory of Asthma and Lung Inflammation, focusing on developing new treatment approaches for patients with severe asthma. Jay Chung, M.D., Ph.D. is a senior investigator in the Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research and his primary research interest is in understanding how aging decreases our ability to burn calories and generate energy. Dr. Levine, Dr. Chung, and their teams won an Orloff Award for discovering a potential novel therapy for asthma.

Hong Xu, Ph.D. is a tenure track investigator in the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics. Dr. Xu’s group is using the well-honed tools of Drosophila genetics, while applying some new innovations, to study how mtDNA mutations are governed by tissue specificity and other factors to create disparate pathologies. Dr. Xu and his team won an Orloff Award for solving the mystery of how mothers pass healthy mitochondria to their children.

Technical Award Winners

Bernard Brooks and Team: For further developing the CHARMMING Web Interface as a tool for computational biophysics education

Keir Neuman, Ph.D. and Team: For development of wide-field in vivo background free imaging via magnetic modulation of fluorescent nanodiamond emission

Adrian Ferré-D'Amaré, Ph.D. and Team: For structure determination of a fluorescent RNA mimic of GFP

Robert Fischer, Ph.D., Clare Waterman, Ph.D. and Teams: For deciphering the role of myosin II in endothelial cell angiogenic migration in 3D using novel computer vision analysis tools