Middleton Award Recognizes Yvette Taché’s Pioneering Research in Brain-Gut Interactions

For more than three decades, Yvette Taché, PhD has been a leader in unraveling the complex brain-gut interactions that occur when stress leads to gastrointestinal disorders, paving the way for new treatments. Now, Dr. Taché’s pioneering work has been recognized with the highest honor for scientific achievement given to a researcher or clinician by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Dr. Taché, a professor in the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases since 1982, was named winner of the 2014 William S. Middleton Award, which honors senior Veteran’s Health investigators who have achieved international acclaim for accomplishments in areas of prime importance to the VA’s research mission. Dr. Taché is the first femial recipient of the Middleton Award since 1960.

“As basic scientists, we are always thinking about how our discoveries might be translated into a better understanding of a disease and improved treatments, “ says Dr. Taché, associate director of the CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress & Women’s Health. “To have the VA recognize that this experimental work will have implications on the medical needs of the Veteran population is very gratifying.”

Brain-gut interaction was a new field when Dr. Taché arrived at UCLA more than three decades ago, but through the efforts in the laboratory, she and her colleagues contributed to a new understanding of the complex brain-gut interactions that occur when stress leads to gut dysfunction. Dr. Taché’s group was among the first to demonstrate the role of peptides in brain-gut interactions and her groups was the first to establish the importance of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in stress-related gut function alterations-laying the foundation for the current interest in modulating this pathway as potential therapeutic venue for functional diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Dr. Taché’s interest in the mechanisms by which stress contributes to gut dysfunction is rorote in her PhD training at the University of Montreal, where she worked in an internationally renowned neuro-endocrinology laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Hans Selye, who coined the term “stress” and conducted pioneering research showing its consequences on the body, including the stomach.

“In recent years the study of brain-gut interactions has emerged as an important aspect of gastroenterology research,” Dr. Taché says. “I am hopeful that the recognition through this award will encourage young researchers to continue to build on our findings.”

UCLA Health
Beyond the Scope Newsletter
A report of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases
Spring, 2015