Remembering Alfred G. Knudson Jr., MD, PhD and James G. White, MD, ASH Bridge Grant awards, and more

Alfred G. Knudson Jr., MD, PhD (1922 – 2016)

Alfred G. Knudson Jr., MD, PhD, former president and scientific director of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, passed away on July 14, 2016. He was 93 years old.

Dr. Knudson is credited with publishing the “two-hit” theory of cancer development, for which he received the 1998 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Researcher Award and the 2004 Kyoto Prize. His research led to the discovery of anti-oncogenes (later called tumor suppressor genes) and has informed the study of other hereditary cancers, such as breast, ovary, colon, and kidney cancers. He is also credited with the idea of monitoring patients who are pre-disposed to cancer for prevention and early detection.

Dr. Knudson received a Bachelor of Science degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1944 and a medical degree from Columbia University in 1947. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry and genetics in 1956 from Cal Tech. Dr. Knudson was also a Navy and Army veteran. He spent his early career at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where he served as dean, before moving to Fox Chase, where he worked for 40 years.

Dr. Knudson is survived by Anna Meadows, his wife of 39 years; three daughters from his first marriage, Linda Gaul, Nancy Knudson, and Dorene Knudson; three stepchildren, Brian Meadows, Adam Meadows, and Elizabeth Meadows; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

James G. White, MD (1929 – 2016)

James G. White, MD, professor of pediatrics, laboratory medicine, and pathology at the University of Minnesota, died peacefully at home with his family on July 8, 2016. He was 86 years old.

Dr. White had been a professor for more than 50 years when he retired in 2014. He was devoted to his family, his work as a hematologist, and to the game of golf. His love of science and his outstanding productivity resulted in his recognition as one of the world’s leading authorities on blood platelet ultrastructure. The precision of specimen preparation and the clarity of his photomicrographs were widely acclaimed as the standards to which others aspired.

Examples of Dr. White’s magnificent work are prominently displayed in major hematology texts, as well as in his more than 700 scientific publications. His long-term investigation of structure-function relationships resulted in an important new understanding of the platelet open canalicular system and the mechanism of granule secretion. These basic studies enlightened the pathophysiology of many platelet secretory disorders, including the Hermansky–Pudlak and grey platelet syndromes. He also made important contributions to the definition of the structural alterations in MYH9 platelet disorders, and other platelet abnormalities.

Dr. White also mentored numerous platelet investigators and was a willing collaborator with colleagues worldwide. He was an active member of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and especially loved when ASH took him from Minnesota to a warmer climate to play golf with esteemed colleagues before annual meetings. His joviality, amiability, warmth, and kindness were always present at ASH poster sessions. He received many honors including the Hemostasis & Thrombosis Research Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Dr. White will be greatly missed, but long remembered, by his University of Minnesota colleagues and by hematologists and platelet investigators around the world.

—Written by Gerhard J. Johnson, MD, and Gregory M. Vercellotti, MD, from the University of Minnesota

David Maloney Named First Klorfine Chair at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

David Maloney, MD, PhD, a member in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, was named the first recipient of the Leonard and Norma Klorfine Endowed Chair for Clinical Research – a position that honors an individual who has improved health and saved lives through his or her research.
Dr. Maloney is a renowned immunotherapy researcher and physician who specializes in hematologic malignancies. He was part of the team that discovered that antibodies that target lymphoma cells could be generated and delivered to patients as a cancer-specific therapy and led the initial development of rituximab, which became the first monoclonal antibody approved for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Source: Fred Hutchinson news release, June 24, 2016.

Leukemia, Lymphoma Researchers Awarded Funding from Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance announced the winners of its third annual Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. Each recipient receives $200,000 in funding per year for up to three years to pursue explorative research.

Three hematologic researchers received the prize:

  • Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    Research focus: identification of novel transcripts, pathways, and therapeutic strategies to target spliceosomal-mutant malignancies in leukemias
  • Uttiya Basu, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center
    Research focus: infectious disease-induced DNA alterations in B cell malignancies, with a goal of developing antibody mediated-therapy for B cell lymphomas
  • Christopher Mason, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College
    Research focus: using new computational and biochemical methods to target and re-program specific sites of epigenetic aggressiveness in AML (acute myeloid leukemia) patients

Source: Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance press release, May 4, 2016.

Dean Lee Named Director of Cell Therapy Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Dean Lee, MD, PhD, was named the director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunotherapy Program for the Division of Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant and Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Lee will also serve as the director of cellular therapy at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In this joint role as director of both cellular therapy programs, Dr. Lee will oversee clinical trials and translational research at each institution to develop innovative immune treatments, including cellular therapy.

Source: Nationwide Children’s Hospital news release, July 1, 2016.

Philip Pancari Joins Fox Chase Cancer Center

Philip A. Pancari, MD, has joined the Department of Hematology/Oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center – Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the bone marrow transplant program.

Dr. Pancari earned his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, then worked as an internal medicine intern and resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, and completed a hematology/oncology fellowship at Temple University and Fox Chase.

Source: Fox Chase Cancer Center press release, July 2, 2016.

Richard J. O’Reilly Receives MSKCC’s Inaugural Prize for Pediatric Oncology Contributions

Richard J. O’Reilly, MD, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and director of the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), was named the inaugural recipient of The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize, a new award that recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric oncology. This prize will be awarded annually to a researcher, physician, or leader who has made a positive and lasting impact in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Dr. O’Reilly, along with his colleagues, is credited with introducing the use of matched unrelated donors for bone marrow transplants and T-cell–depleted transplants from human leukocyte antigen half-matched donors.

Source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center press release, May 2, 2016.

ASH Announces Recipients of Bridge Grants to Help Sustain Blood Disease Research

ASH announced the names of nine investigators who have received the latest round of ASH Bridge Grants to sustain their promising research programs that scored well but could not be supported by the National Institutes of Health as a result of limited funding. Since 2013, ASH has provided approximately 20 to 30 one-year awards annually to ASH members who applied for an NIH R01 grant or equivalent but were denied funding due to budget cutbacks. The long-term goal of the award is to help sustain recipients’ research and contribute to their retention in hematology investigation. Recipients of the ASH Bridge Grant Award receive a total of $150,000.

  • Jaehyung Cho, PhD, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • Clark W. Distelhorst, MD, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH
  • Siegfried Janz, MD, DSc, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA
  • Ann Mullally, MD, The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
  • Enrico Novelli, MD, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Samir Parekh, MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
  • Zhijian Qian, PhD, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • Matthew Riese, MD, PhD, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
  • Fenghuang Zhan, MD, PhD, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Source: The American Society of Hematology press release, July 21, 2016.

ASH Selects 30 Medical Students and Residents for 2016 HONORS Award

ASH selected 15 medical students and 15 residents for the 2016 ASH HONORS (Hematology Opportunities for the Next Generation of Research Scientists) Award, which aims to support the career development of medical students and residents in North America who are interested in hematology.

Recipients receive a stipend of $5,000 to conduct either short-term (up to 3 months) or long-term (3-12 months) hematology research projects, as well as $1,000 each year for two years to support their attendance at a program orientation at the ASH annual meeting. Each awardee is also connected with an ASH member research mentor who assists and oversees their work and progress.

The 2016 ASH HONORS Award medical student recipients include:

  • Arielle Abovich, University of Alabama Medical Center, Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Ana Luiza Altaffer, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • Rahul Bhansali, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL
  • Michelle Chen, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sean Dougherty, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA
  • Richard Godby, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH
  • Naomi Gunawardena, UPMC Medical Education, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Parisa Khalighi, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Jerry Lee, Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC
  • Orly Leiva, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
  • Vivian Liu, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • Ariel Siegel, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
  • Ishan Tatake, University of Connecticut, Mansfield, CT
  • Elsa Treffeisen, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
  • Christopher Tricarico, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

The 2016 ASH HONORS Award resident recipients and their research topics include:

  • Kathryn Bradford, MD, UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Joseph Clara, MD, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • Nicole Cruz, MD, New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell, New York, NY
  • Kyle Davis, MD, Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus, OH
  • Susan DeWolf, MD, New York Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, New York, NY
  • Harold Elias, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, NY
  • Karine Gauthier, MD, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON
  • Ashwin Kishtagari, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
  • Harry Lesmana, MD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
  • Konstantinos Lontos, MD, UPMC Medical Education, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Luis Malpica Castillo, MD, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL
  • Rushad Patell, MD, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH
  • Praful Ravi, MD, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, MN
  • Chris Reilly, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • Sarah Rumler, MD, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria, IL

Source: The American Society of Hematology press release, July 6, 2016.

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Awards $900,000 to Young Investigators

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation announced seven new Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators at its spring 2016 Clinical Investigator Award Committee review. The recipients of this three-year award are early-career physician–scientists who are conducting patient-oriented cancer research at major research centers under the mentorship of the nation’s leading scientists and clinicians, and will receive $450,000 in research funding.

Two researchers dedicated to hematologic malignancies were awarded this year:

  • Ami S. Bhatt, MD, PhD, works under the mentorship of Linda Boxer, MD, PhD, and Michael Snyder, PhD, at Stanford University in Stanford, California. Dr. Bhatt’s research examines serious complications associated with chemotherapy and hematopoietic cell transplantation.
  • Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD, a Richard Lumsden Foundation Clinical Investigator, works under the mentorship of Ross L. Levine, MD, and Scott A. Armstrong, MD, PhD, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York. Dr. Kentsis’ research focuses on the discovery and development of novel therapeutic strategies for patients with refractory cancers, with immediate emphasis on therapy-resistant acute myeloid leukemia.

Source: Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation news release, July 15, 2016.

UCSB Researchers Receive NIH Grants for Sepsis Research

The NIH has issued a five-year, $12.8 million research grant to a multidisciplinary team of scientists focused on complications related to sepsis. The team includes Center for Nanomedicine (CNM) scientists and clinicians from multiple institutes, including the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and the University of California San Diego.

“Millions of people are diagnosed with sepsis each year worldwide, and on average 30 percent die from the complications of sepsis,” said Jamey Marth, PhD, director of the UCSB CNM and professor at SBP. “No new effective treatments have been developed in decades.”

Dr. Marth noted that new research has the potential to reduce the frequency of disability and death in patients diagnosed with sepsis.

Source: University of California Santa Barbara press release, July 19, 2016.

NCI Announces 2016 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Awards

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced the 2016 recipients of the Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award, which recognizes and supports outstanding mid-career clinical investigators at NCI-designated cancer centers who are working to improve the lives of people with cancer through extensive involvement in NCI-funded collaborative clinical trials and whose leadership, participation, and activities promote clinical trials and research.

The award provides partial salary support for two years for the awardee to engage in activities and efforts related to the award, with the awardee devoting at least 15 percent effort to the activities associated with this award.

Board-certified clinicians who serve as full-time faculty members and have practiced medicine for three to 10 years post-fellowship are eligible for the award.

The 2016 award recipients include:

  • Rahul Aggarwal, MD, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
  • Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, MD, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Rochester, MN
  • Catherine Diefenbach, MD, Perlmutter Cancer Center, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY
  • Noah Hahn, MD, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • Erin Hofstatter, MD, Yale Cancer Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
  • Kevin Kelly, MD, PhD, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
  • Sarah Leary, MD, MS, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, Seattle, WA
  • Frederick Locke, MD, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL
  • Rachel Miller, MD, Markey Cancer Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  • Taofeek Owonikoko, MD, PhD, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • Geoffrey Oxnard, MD, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
  • Dale Shepard, MD, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Theresa Werner, MD, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Source: National Cancer Institute news release, July 14, 2016.