University of Minnesota Physician Honored with Presidential Early Career Award

Melena Bellin, MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist for University of Minnesota Physicians and Professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics and Surgery, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Donald Trump. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to science and engineering professionals who are beginning their independent research careers.

Dr. Bellin was nominated for the award by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease for her first R01 grant, which focuses on how to best treat patients with chronic pancreatitis who need their pancreas removed due to severe abdominal pain. The procedure is very unique and only done at a handful of centers across the U.S., but it can be life-transforming for the patients who undergo the procedure.

“I am very honored to have my efforts recognized, but I could not do this work without the amazing multidisciplinary team that I work with at the University of Minnesota to advance the care for these patients,” said Dr. Bellin. “I hope that this award can also bring attention to the ongoing need for research for these patients with chronic pancreatitis.”

“Dr. Melena Bellin is among the best physicians I have ever known. She is thoughtful and compassionate in patient care, but she is also a first class researcher, and generous with her time and knowledge,” said Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and Medical Director, Pediatric Ambulatory Services. “The University of Minnesota should be very proud to have the wonderful physician working here.”

Dr. Bellin sees patients at the University of Minnesota Health Maple Grove Clinic and Discovery Clinic and her clinical interests are diabetes, growth disorders and total pancreatectomy and islet auto-transplant.

Dr. Bellin completed her pediatric residency and pediatric endocrine fellowship training at the University of Minnesota Medical School and joined the faculty in 2009, with a joint appointment in Pediatrics and Surgery. Since then, she was recognized in Best Doctors in America (2013), Minneapolis - St. Paul “Top Doctors, Rising Star Edition” (2015-2016), and Minnesota Monthly “Top Doctors” ( 2014, 2016-2018). She also received the Innovator in Translational Research Award from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota (2019).

“This award is described as ‘the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers’. I can think of no one more deserving than Dr. Bellin, who is a world-leader in a cutting edge field of research,” said Antoinette Moran, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology. “It is a great honor for our department and for our institution that she has been recognized as a superstar by the US government.”

Faculty members in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science & Engineering, including Bharat Jalan, Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, and Dominik Schillinger, Department of Civil Engineering, were also named as recipients of the PECASE.

The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers are coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.