Sanford Shattil, MD, of the University of California – San Diego, is deeply honored to be recognized by his peers.
“It is most gratifying that this award comes from my peers, many of whom are just as deserving, if not more so, to be receiving an honorific award from ASH,” Dr. Shattil said. “Indeed, two of my long-standing friends and collaborators in the platelet field, Drs. Joel Bennett and Barry Coller, are this year’s Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize awardees.”
This morning, Dr. Shattil will be presented with the 2010 Stratton Medal for his remarkable achievements in the area of platelet cell biology and signal transduction. The Stratton Medal, named for the late Henry M. Stratton, a cofounder of the publishing house of Grune and Stratton, honors an individual whose well-recognized contributions to hematology have taken place over a period of several years.
When asked how his career has changed over the years, Dr. Shattil simply answered, “Not much. I was trained to be an academic hematologist, and I am still an academic hematologist.”
Despite not changing, Dr. Shattil’s career has been anything but idle. He has led the way in defining the roles of numerous kinases, scaffold proteins, small G-proteins, and exchange factors in outside-in integrin signaling platelets. Dr. Shattil has often been the first to introduce cutting-edge approaches to the platelet field, including live cell imaging and the pioneering technique of deriving megakaryocytes from mouse bone marrow or human stem cells to use as a molecularly tractable model of platelet signaling. Dr. Shattil has also served as treasurer of ASH and as editor-in-chief of Blood and continues to contribute to ASH through workshops aimed at young investigators to teach them how to prepare and submit manuscripts.
His many accomplishments have come with unique challenges. “The biggest challenge has been to stay current with the explosion of knowledge in both basic science and clinical medicine,” Dr. Shattil said. “Successfully filtering and integrating this knowledge is, in my view, a critical requirement for conducting biomedical research and caring for patients.”
Dr. Shattil realized he wanted to be a hematologist during his residency at Boston City Hospital, following a chance encounter with Buz Cooper, the chief of hematology at the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory at the time. “Buz would become my main mentor during a subsequent hematology fellowship at the Thorndike, where the excitement about a career in hematology was infectious,” Dr. Shattil said.
Two of Dr. Shattil’s most cherished work-related memories occurred while he was at the University of Pennsylvania. The first was in the 1970s when Joel Bennett had the inspiration and went on to prove that platelet glycoprotein IIβ-IIIα was a fibrinogen receptor. The second was in the 1980s when “Jim Hoxie, Mike Cunningham, Skip Brass, and I generated an activation-dependent monoclonal antibody to glycoprotein IIβ-IIIα,” Dr. Shattil said. “This opened the way for studies to assess how conformational changes of this receptor and other integrins are regulated.”
If Dr. Shattil wasn’t a hematologist, he would likely be a physician in a different field. He does know, however, what he might have done differently career-wise when he was younger. “I would have been a left-handed relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, pitching to my battery-mate, Dr. Mohandas Narla,” Dr. Shattil said. “Unfortunately, my lack of baseball talent precluded this dream, but it likely would have provided me a steady job, without the need to apply for grants.”