Jason Mendler, MD, PhD
The late Drs. Thomas Hale Ham and Louis R. Wasserman were past American Society of Hematology presidents and distinguished hematologists who contributed extensively to ASH and to the field of hematology. Although widely known for his research on the mechanisms of hemolytic anemias, Dr. Ham’s major endeavor was the unique medical education curriculum he developed for the Western Reserve University medical students, which centered on the idea that medical students should be treated as both colleagues and clients. Dr. Wasserman wrote or collaborated on some 200 papers on the red blood cell, iron metabolism, and the remediation of blood disorders through radiation, antibiotics, and nutrition. One of his most important contributions was his research into polycythemias, and he led an international study group that established the standards for the treatment of polycythemia vera, to the benefit of thousands of patients. Undoubtedly, both would have been honored to know that a scientist of the caliber of Dr. Tsvee Lapidot is giving this year’s ASH lecture carrying their names.
Dr. Lapidot has spent his career studying both normal and cancer stem cells, primarily using the mouse as a functional preclinical model. Most recently, he has focused his work on the mechanisms underlying the movements of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in response to exogenous stimuli. He has authored more than 100 publications, many in high-impact journals.
Originally from Jerusalem, Dr. Lapidot had an early introduction to science. As a child, he spent two years that he describes as “lovely” in Madison, WI, as his father completed a post-doc with Dr. H. Gobind Khorana, who later received a Nobel Prize for his work on the genetic code. He did his PhD work with Dr. Yair Reisner on mega-dose stem cell transplantation in mouse models, which was eventually successfully implemented clinically. From 1990 to 1994, he completed a post-doc with Dr. John Dick. Together, they were the first to identify human cancer stem cells (in acute myelogenous leukemia) using transplanted, immune-deficient mice as functional preclinical models. Currently, he is The Edith Arnoff Stein Professorial Chair in Stem Cell Research at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.
In today’s Ham-Wasserman Lecture at 12:30 p.m. in the main lecture hall (Hall D), Dr. Lapidot will describe how the movements of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from the bone marrow into the peripheral blood and back again are tightly regulated processes involving multiple mechanisms and organ systems. He will discuss how a dynamic interplay between the nervous, immune, and bone-remodeling systems controls stem cell mobilization and homing in response to exogenous signals. According to Dr. Lapidot, a better understanding of this process may help improve the efficiency of stem cell repopulation in clinical transplantation, an especially important goal when grafts with a limited number of stem cells (such as those from immature umbilical cord blood) are used.
When asked how he feels about being chosen for this prestigious lecture, Dr. Lapidot responded, “[I am] very grateful to all the researchers and medical staff who have contributed to our work and approach as well as to ASH President Dr. Broxmeyer and all the distinguished experts of the committee for selecting me and our work.” Dr. Lapidot’s talk is sure to be an intellectual treat and will unquestionably be a wonderful way to get the 2010 ASH Annual Meeting underway.
Dr. Mendler indicated no relevant conflicts of interest.