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The Robert B. Mellins, M.D. Outstanding Achievement Award

Meet the 2023 Winner: Lael Yonker, MD



Lael M. Yonker, MD is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cystic Fibrosis (MGH CF) Center, Co-Director of the MGH CF Therapeutic Development Center, and a Principal Investigator in the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at MGH. Dr. Yonker completed her undergraduate degree at Bowdoin College, then attended the University of Massachusetts Medical School before completing her pediatrics residency and pediatric pulmonary fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. She has been a member of ATS since 2010 and has served on the ATS Pediatric Program Committee since 2018. 

When the pandemic hit, Dr. Yonker mobilized her research efforts to establish the MGH Pediatric COVID-19 Biorepository. This Biorepository has helped shape our understanding of how SARS-CoV-2 affects the pediatric population. Her team has successfully collected and processed specimens from over 2,200 neonates, toddlers, children, adolescents, and young adults who have been exposed to, infected by, or vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. Her translational research has informed our understanding of viral dynamics in acute infection plus mucosal and systemic immune responses. She’s also advanced our understanding of the pathobiology driving the post-COVID-19 hyperinflammatory illness, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), and post-mRNA vaccine-related myocarditis. She’s published over 33 manuscripts on pediatric COVID-19, MIS-C, and mRNA vaccination in children. She continues to advance her research to identify biomarkers for MIS-C and is leading a clinical trial testing a novel therapy, larazotide, as an adjuvant treatment for MIS-C. She continues to expand her COVID-19 research and now is also working to better understand post-COVID conditions in children, including Long COVID. Her research has been supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Health and Human Services/Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and the PolyBio Research Foundation.


The Pediatrics Assembly is pleased to announce the Robert B. Mellins, M.D. Outstanding Achievement Award, given to a candidate at the Instructor, Assistant Professor, or early Associate Professor level, who is recognized for achievement in scholarship or research achievements over the course of their career to date. 


  • The candidate should be recognized for making seminal contributions to the science or practice of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine.
  • The candidate should be recognized by their peers as an outstanding clinician and/or researcher, teacher and mentor.
  • Contributions to the Pediatric Assembly in the form of Committee participation or Chairmanship will be viewed favorably.
  • Candidates in Pediatric Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Neonatal Medicine all will be considered.


Nominate Here


View Previous Award Recipients

2022 - Christian Rosas-Salazar, MD, MPH, ATSF
2021 - Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, MS
2020 - Jennifer Wambach, MD
2019 - Gustavo Nino, MD
2018 - Don B. Sanders, MD, MS
2017 - Erick Forno, MD, MPH
2016 - Lucas R. Hoffman, MD, PhD
2015 - Eric D. Austin, MD
2014 - Lisa R. Young, MD
2013 - Robert Freishtat, MD, MPH