Remembering Alvin Zipursky, Paul Frenette, and more

Alvin Zipursky, MD

Remembering Alvin Zipursky (1930 – 2021)

Alvin Zipursky, MD, a leader in the field of pediatric hematology, died on August 10.

Dr. Zipursky was professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, where he established the Programme for Global Paediatric Research at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), which he directed for more than a decade. Previously, he served as head of the division of hematology and oncology at SickKids and professor and founding chair of pediatrics at McMaster University Medical School.

Over a career spanning four decades, his research advanced the understanding of hemolytic diseases in newborns and leukemias associated with Down syndrome. In 2011, he was appointed as an officer of the Order of Canada. Into his late 80s, he worked on implementing Rh prevention programs in developing countries.

Dr. Zipursky is survived by his partner, Ayala, his brother, Morley, six children, 10 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Freda.

Paul S. Frenette, MD

Remembering Paul Frenette (1965 – 2021) 

On July 26, Paul S. Frenette, MD, died from angiosarcoma at the age of 56.

A pioneer in hematopoietic stem cell research, Dr. Frenette was founding director and chair of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and professor of medicine and cell biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His research led to advancements in vascular biology, sickle cell disease, cancer, and stem cell biology.

“In addition to Dr. Frenette’s enormous impact on a remarkably diverse set of important scientific and medical problems, the significance of his scientific contributions is apparent in the number of articles his lab published each year in the highest profile journals in the field of cell biology,” said Arthur Skoultchi, PhD, chair of the department of cell biology at Einstein. “He had very high standards. His publications were extremely thorough. By his example, he raised the bar for all of us in the department of cell biology.”

Dr. Frenette served on a variety of American Society of Hematology (ASH) committees and mentored dozens of highly accomplished medical students and trainees who have gone on to careers in science, academia, and research across the U.S. and worldwide.

“As a mentor, Paul was extremely rigorous and very critical, two characteristics that really helped me change my way of thinking, and he guided me in asking the important scientific questions in the field,” said Sandra Pinho, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago who previously worked in Dr. Frenette’s lab as a postdoc. “Now, as a junior faculty, I try to incorporate in my own style of mentorship the skills and passion for the work that I saw in Paul and wonder what his opinion about my new independent work would be.”

Dr. Frenette is survived by his wife, Nadine, and their two children, Clara and Alberic.

Richard B. Counts, MD

Remembering Richard B. Counts (1941 – 2021)

Prominent hematologist in transfusion medicine Richard B. Counts, MD, passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Dr. Counts completed his internship and residency at the University of Washington in Seattle. After two years as a clinical associate in hematology at the National Institute of Arthritic and Metabolic Diseases, he returned to the University of Washington as professor of medicine in the division of hematology until his retirement in 2008. Dr. Counts spent his fellowship working on the biochemistry of factor VIII in the lab of Earl Davie, PhD, before moving to the Puget Sound Blood Center (now Bloodworks Northwest) where he spent the rest of his professional career, first as director of the Coagulation Reference Laboratory and co-head of the Blood Center’s comprehensive regional hemophilia program, later becoming president and CEO of the Blood Center.

Additionally, Dr. Counts was active in national blood banking organizations, serving as president of the Council of Community Blood Centers and on national committees and advisory groups for the National Insitutes of Health and the National Hemophilia Foundation. His research defined the appropriate blood component therapy in massive transfusion and promoted the use of cryoprecipitate in the treatment of hemophilia at a time when factor concentrates were responsible for a high rate of HIV transmission.

Dr. Counts is survived by his wife, Sandy, and their three children, Matthew, Sarah, and Leah.

Sarah K. Tasian, MD

Sarah K. Tasian Appointed Chief of Hematologic Malignancies at CHOP

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has appointed Sarah K. Tasian, MD, as chief of hematologic malignancies in the division of oncology. Dr. Tasian succeeds Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE, who served in the role for 13 years.

A pediatric oncologist and physician-scientist at CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Tasian has focused her research on testing kinase inhibitors and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies for children with high-risk acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dr. Tasian is a contributing editor for The Hematologist: ASH News and Reports, a dedicated mentor of trainees, and has received several teaching awards.

Dr. Tasian holds leadership roles in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) ALL and Myeloid Diseases committees, Leukemia Lymphoma Society PedAL/EuPAL consortium, and COG Developmental Therapeutics committee. Currently, Dr. Tasian also leads or co-leads several clinical trials testing precision medicine therapies in children with high-risk leukemias.

Source: CHOP press release, July 1, 2021.