For the past 25 years, ASH has supported more than 200 fellows and junior faculty in both basic and clinical/translational research by providing partial salary or other support during the critical period required for completion of training and achievement of status as an independent investigator.
The following class of ASH Scholars began their award on July 1, 2010. To find out more about the ASH Scholar Awards program, please visit www.hematology.org. An announcement of the 2011 ASH Scholars will be made during the Presidential Symposium on Tuesday, December 7, 2010.
Gregor B. Adams, PhD
Dr. Adams obtained a BSc in molecular biology from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and a PhD from Imperial College School of Medicine in London. Following this, he performed his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. David Scadden at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. There Dr. Adams’ research emphasis was on the interaction of the hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with their microenvironmental niche. He co-authored seminal work describing the role of the osteoblast as a key component of the bone marrow stem cell niche and followed this by identifying signaling pathways involved in stem cell niche biology and methods to enhance stem cell niche interactions. Currently, Dr. Adams is an assistant professor in the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of Southern California. His research program is still focused on the HSC niche in the bone marrow, in particular identifying the components of the HSC niche and elucidating the signaling pathways involved in niche-mediated stem cell self-renewal. His ASH Junior Faculty Scholar Award will support a project aimed at studying basic biology of the HSCs, but with a clear vision for translation to clinical medicine. Dr. Adams explained, “Funding, and thus expertise, is considerably lacking in this important interface between basic and translational science.” The Scholar Award will allow him to produce data that establish his status as an independent investigator in this field and thus make him competitive for additional funding opportunities.
Philippe Armand, MD, PhD
Dr. Armand received his MD and PhD from the University of California, San Francisco. He then completed his internal medicine and hematology/oncology post-graduate training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, where he is currently an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Armand’s clinical and research interests revolve around lymphoma and stem cell transplantation, particularly clinical trials testing immunomodulatory strategies and other anti-lymphoma strategies after autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Dr. Armand’s ASH Scholar Award is supporting a phase III clinical trial of allogeneic transplantation for patients with lymphoma, which is his biggest project to date. He is hopeful that it will become his first major accomplishment of his research career. Dr. Armand explained, “The ASH award has been an immeasurable help for me in getting this trial started, and I am forever thankful to ASH for giving me this award and this honor.”
Jennifer R. Brown, MD, PhD
Gabrielle Angel’s Foundation
ASH Scholar Award Winner
After obtaining her BS and MS in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University, Dr. Brown completed her MD as well as a PhD in molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School in 1998. She served as an intern and resident in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and then completed her fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Currently, she is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).
Dr. Brown’s research interests have two principal goals: the development and expansion of a clinical and translational research program in CLL at DFCI and understanding and characterizing the biology of familial lymphoproliferative disorders. She runs clinical trials for all disease phases in CLL in addition to creating and maintaining a tissue bank of primary CLL cells that she supplies to many collaborators. In parallel, she has also developed a familial lymphoproliferative disorder registry and tissue bank at DFCI, enrolling families with CLL as well as lymphoma. The ASH Scholar Award will help her complete a large project combining copy number and gene expression data for a cohort of approximately 160 familial and sporadic CLLs. She is also proceeding with deep sequencing of familial and sporadic CLL in collaboration with the Broad Institute.
“The biggest challenge in my career to date has been combining all these different activities: clinical care, clinical research, and translational scientific research. However, the ability to combine these and to have each one inform the other so extensively is a major reason why I went into hematology. In the coming years, I look forward to applying genomic medicine and targeted therapy in a patient-specific way in the clinic.”
Grant A. Challen, PhD
Dr. Challen obtained his BSc from Central Queensland University (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) in 2001 and was awarded his PhD from the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) in 2006. During his PhD training, Dr. Challen trained under Prof. Melissa Little in the search for stem cells in embryonic and adult kidneys. During this time, he became fascinated by the power of stem cells and became interested in the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) field. As Dr. Challen states, “This was by far the best-characterized adult stem cell population, and I thought the lessons learned from the study of this field might be able to be applied to other model systems.” In 2006, Dr. Challen joined the lab of Dr. Margaret Goodell at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, to begin his postdoctoral fellowship studying the molecular regulation of HSCs, during which his biggest accomplishment so far has been providing some of the first evidence for the purification of lineage-biased HSCs from the bone marrow. Dr. Challen’s current research focuses on the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms controlling the self-renewal and differentiation of HSCs, particularly regulation of gene expression by DNA methylation. His work is motivated by a desire to improve the lives of patients afflicted with hematopoietic disorders and ultimately to see the implementation of meaningful discoveries in HSC biology to help drive novel clinical outcomes. “Receiving an ASH Scholar Award was a huge honor for me, as it recognizes that my work has made a valuable contribution to the field of hematology and has provided funding for me to pursue some interesting observations with which I hope to establish a successful career.”
Baiwei Gu, PhD
Dr. Gu received his medical degree from Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine in China. To pursue his career in hematology research, he finished his masters and PhD training in Prof. Sai-Juan Chen and Prof. Zhu Chen’s laboratory at Shanghai Institute of Hematology, Rui-Jin Hospital, which is affiliated with Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine. His research focused on the leukemogenesis of chromosomal translocations and mutations of leukemia-related genes in patients. After graduating in 2004, he moved to Drs. Philip Mason and Monica Bessler’s lab at the Washington University in St. Louis and engaged in postdoctoral studies of the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in the human bone marrow failure syndrome dyskeratosis congenita. He developed a mouse model of dyskeratosis congenita and used these mice to uncover a novel pathogenic mechanism whereby the mutation caused telomerase dependent, telomere length independent growth impairment with the accumulation of DNA damage, and increased ROS levels. In 2010, Dr. Gu moved to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is continuing his investigation on how the dysfunctional telomerase and ribosomal biogenesis affect the hematopoietic stem cell function in bone marrow failure patients.
Susannah Hewitt, PhD
During her undergraduate training at Manchester University, UK, Dr. Hewitt’s fascination for all living things blossomed, and she was curious how the fertilized vertebrate embryo develops into the highly complex multi-cellular adult. During postgraduate training at Imperial College London, Dr. Hewitt’s interest morphed into scrutinizing the wonderfully diverse and functionally different immune cells. Remarkably, a single common ancestor, the hematopoietic stem cell, differentiates into both oxygen-carrying red blood cells and the myriad white blood cells that protect us from infectious onslaughts. Her current research aims to understand how the normal development of the immune system is perturbed in human pathologies.
In the time she has been working with Dr. Jane Skok, at NYU School of Medicine, the two have conducted highly innovative research into the control of V(D)J recombination (Nature Immunology, 2008, 2009). Dr. Hewitt explains, “The immunoglobulin loci are tightly regulated within the nuclear space, and we recently revealed that homologous Ig alleles pair up in the nucleus during recombination in order to protect genome stability. Remarkably, without the DNA damage checkpoint protein ATM, recombination is strikingly deregulated, and damaging double-stranded DNA breaks occur on both homologous Ig alleles at the same time.”
“It has been an immense honor to receive the ASH Scholar Award, both in recognition of this existing work, and, equally, it provides added enthusiasm for my current research objectives. As scientists and doctors we are constantly evolving, and the ASH Scholar Award has generously bestowed research support at a critical time in my career as I prepare for the next, and perhaps biggest, transformation into a fully fledged research leader.”
Taku Kambayashi, PhD
Dr. Kambayashi is currently a tenure-track assistant professor (second year) at the University of Pennsylvania. He sees patients in the transfusion medicine service at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and performs basic science research in the areas of immunology and hematology. During his postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Koretzky at Penn, Dr. Kambayashi studied signal transduction mechanisms during allergic inflammation in mast cells. In addition, Dr. Kambayashi became interested in the roles that mast cells may play beyond allergic responses. In particular, he and his colleagues focused on the potential role of mast cells in regulating T-cell responses. From this work, the group has made several discoveries relating to how T cells can get activated/suppressed by mast cells and provided insights into how regulatory T cells are maintained in the periphery.
More recently, stemming from his signal transduction work in mast cells, Dr. Kambayashi and his colleagues started to investigate how signal transduction through activating receptors on natural killer (NK) cells affects their function and development. Based on their previous work from mast cells, they hypothesized that NK cells would utilize similar pathways to transmit signals downstream of their activating receptors. However, to their surprise, they found that NK cells appear to use novel alternative signaling pathways that are different from other hematopoietic cell types. This unique signaling pathway that involves the adaptor protein SLP-76 appears to be important during development of the inhibitory receptor repertoire in NK cells, which is an important process that allows NK cells to be self-tolerant. “Support from the ASH Scholar Award enables us to continue our work on NK cells. We believe that further understanding of how NK cells are activated in the periphery and achieve self-tolerance will provide new insights into devising novel strategies to modulate NK cell responses in multiple disease settings,” Dr. Kambayashi stated.
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