American University of Beirut

Dr. Amin Arnaout recipient of prestigious Homer W. Smith Award

​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications,​

Dr. Amin Arnaout (BS ’70, MD ’74) has been honored by the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) as recipient of the 2018 Homer W. Smith Award​ and recognized as “an individual who has made outstanding contributions which fundamentally affect the science of nephrology.”

“The American University of Beirut, and I personally, are immensely proud of our two-time distinguished alumnus, M. Amin Arnaout, BS (’70, biology), MD (’74, internal medicine, with distinction) for receiving the prestigious Homer W. Smith Award,” said AUB President Fadlo Khuri. “Professor Arnaout is a stellar scholar, a groundbreaking scientist, a dedicated mentor, and an even finer human being, one who has given generously of his time for his alma mater.”

Amin Arnaout, MD, is Harvard Medical School professor of medicine, chief emeritus of the Division of Nephrology, and director of the Leukocyte Biology and Inflammation and Structural Biology Programs at Massachusetts General Hospital. A pioneering physician-scientist and nephrologist, he discovered a class of cell adhesion molecules on leukocytes, now known as leukocyte β2 integrins, whose inherited deficiency causes life threatening bacterial infections. He then pioneered a structure-based approach to the biology of integrins, which culminated in his elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of these receptors. 

In his work, Arnaout uses integrin structure to address a major drawback in current anti-integrin drugs, namely the inadvertent drug-induced proadhesive shape-shifting activity in these receptors that has been linked to major adverse outcomes in patients, especially those suffering from heart attacks. 

He developed first-in-class orthosteric inhibitors that are not partial agonists and has recently shown the effectiveness and safety of one such inhibitor in preventing fibroinflammatory kidney failure in nonhuman primates. These recent studies are rekindling interest in development of safer anti-integrin drugs to treat common diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. 

His work was editorialized in Science as "one of those spectacular results that will change a field” and he has been widely recognized with a number of awards, most recently the 2017 Kuwait Prize in Basic and Applied Medical Sciences.  

Established in 1964, the Homer W. Smith Award annually recognizes one of the major intellectual contributors to renal physiology. “The clarity of [Dr. Amin’s] logic and the skill with which he explained his ideas transformed them into vivid and powerful concepts that are the cornerstones of our present understanding of normal and abnormal renal function,” stated the American Society of Nephrology in its announcement of the award this year. “This award is in recognition of those who follow in his footsteps and contribute to our understanding of how the kidney functions normally and in disease states.”

“Amin served for five years with me as a leading member of the International Advisory Committee of the American University of Beirut’s School of Medicine, leveraging his impeccable standards and judgment to ensure that his alma mater was positioning itself to lead Lebanon and the Arab World in research, teaching and patient care, three subjects he is immensely passionate about. It has been my privilege and my pleasure to get to know Amin closely over the last decade, and I consider him a close friend,” said President Khuri. 

“In his diligence, integrity, and originality, Amin is a role model for generations of AUB graduates,” added Khuri. “Both of his mentors—my late father Raja N. Khuri, and Alexander Leaf, previous chief of medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) who, other than Amin himself, is the only other recipient of the Homer Smith Award from MGH—would be immensely proud of Amin were they around. Both would wholeheartedly applaud this highly merited acknowledgment of his groundbreaking work.”

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