ASH 2017 Bridge Grant Awards, Hematologists Receive Stand Up To Cancer 2017 Innovative Research Grants, and more

ASH Announces 2017 Bridge Awards

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) announced the names of five investigators who have received the latest round of ASH Bridge Grants to sustain hematologic research proposals that scored well but cannot be funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) because of funding capabilities. These grants provide winners with $150,000 toward their research and serve as a 1-year bridge for researchers facing gaps in multiyear funding. They allow winners to focus on bolstering findings and improving their NIH grant applications rather than shuttering their projects while applying for alternative funding.

Projects funded through this year’s awards include improving therapy for pediatric leukemia, advancing immunotherapy techniques, and regulating hematopoietic cell function. The winners are:

  • Weiguo Cui, PhD, Blood Center of Wisconsin at the Blood Research Institute in Milwaukee, WI
  • Patrick Gallagher, MD, Yale University in New Haven, CT
  • Silvia Giannini, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA
  • Vivian Oehler, MD, University of Washington in Seattle, WA
  • Yang Yang, MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, AL

Since the program began in April 2013, ASH has awarded $10.45 million in bridge grants to 87 investigators across 53 institutions.


Hematologists Receive Stand Up To Cancer 2017 Innovative Research Grants

Stand Up To Cancer awarded the 2017 Innovative Research Grants to 10 early-career scientists during the 2017 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. The list of winners included several researchers in the field of hematology, including:


Daniel Bachovchin, PhD
  • Daniel A. Bachovchin, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, for his work on harnessing dipeptidyl peptidase inhibition for cancer immunotherapy
Dave Barrett, MD, PhD
  • David M. Barrett, MD, PhD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for his work on rescuing T-cell function for immunotherapy of pediatric malignancies
Marie Bleakley, MD, PhD
  • Marie Bleakley, MD, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, for her work in developing T-cell immunotherapy for core binding factor acute myeloid leukemia
Michael D. Farwell, MD
  • Michael D. Farwell, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, for his work on imaging chimeric antigen receptor T cells with a dual-function positron emission tomography reporter gene.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Receives Five-Year Grant to Study Gene Therapy

Brian Sorrentino, MD

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital received a 5-year, $11.9 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to study gene therapy for patients with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID), also known as “bubble boy” disease. The grant supports the opening of the St. Jude gene therapy protocol for X-linked SCID at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.

“We have made good progress in demonstrating the safety and efficacy of our lentiviral-based gene therapy for the treatment of X-linked SCID,” said Brian Sorrentino, MD, principal investigator on the grant and a member of the Department of Hematology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “One of our goals with this new collaboration is to widen access to this life-saving gene therapy.”

Source: EurekAlert, February 23, 2017.

HVO Presents 2017 Golden Apple Awards

Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) announced the recipients of the 12th annual HVO Golden Apple Awards, which recognize individuals who have demonstrated commitment to improving global health through education, training, and professional development of the health workforce in resource-scarce countries.
The recipients are:

  • Charles Bloomer, DDS
  • Theresa Coetzer, PhD
  • Christian Fuentes, MD
  • David Goldstein, MBBS
  • Judith Hembree, PT, PhD
  • Silvia Plattner, PT
  • Julia Plotnick, RN, MPH

“The HVO members, volunteers, and partners receiving the 2017 HVO Golden Apple Award have contributed to the quality and availability of health care around the world, strengthening our mission and transforming lives,” said Nancy Kelly, executive director of HVO.

ASH member Dr. Coetzer has been involved with HVO for more than a decade and served as one of the original members of the HVO Hematology Steering Committee. She has served as project director to HVO hematology projects in Peru and Tanzania; she was instrumental in conducting the site assessments for the initial project sites in Uganda, Peru, and Tanzania.

As co-director of the Tanzania project, Dr. Coetzer worked with her colleagues at the Muhimbili National Hospital and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences and HVO volunteers to develop ways to improve patient care. In addition, she encouraged local personnel to apply for educational opportunities through ASH to increase their laboratory knowledge, thus empowering the future leaders from the sites.

Source: Health Volunteers Overseas press release, April 7, 2017.

University of Alabama Receives NCI Grant to Address Cancer Disparities Among African-Americans

Upender Manne, PhD

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) a 5-year, $16.6 million renewal grant to address cancer disparities among African-American patients. The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center collaborated with the Morehouse School of Medicine and Tuskegee University on the initiative, which was originally funded by NCI in 2006.

“Culture, environment, health-care access, socioeconomics, and population-specific genetic differences contribute to high cancer incidences and cancer health disparities,” said Upender Manne, PhD, lead principal investigator and professor in the Department of Pathology at UAB. “Our efforts are focused on answers to these problems. We use a persistent, multifaceted strategy, combining multidisciplinary approaches to unravel the molecular basis for cancer disparities, training of health professionals and community health educators across the cancer care continuum, and accelerating the development of cancer scientists.”

As part of this effort, research partners at UAB, Morehouse, and Tuskegee will conduct bench- and community-level cancer research with a goal of understanding the causes for cancer disparities.

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham news release, January 20, 2017.