American Society of Hematology

Dirk van Bekkum

In the 1950s and '60s, Dr. Dirk van Bekkum's laboratory made critical observations of "a secondary disease" after transplantation, now known as graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). In 1956, his team also demonstrated that the curative effect of bone marrow is due to the engraftment of stem cells rather than humoral factors - a finding simultaneously shown by American and British scientists. In the succeeding years, his research group used purification techniques to study the morphological and phenotypical characteristics of hematopoietic stem cells. Medical applications developed under his leadership include the use of purified stem cells for the treatment of infants with combined immune deficiency, the technique of T-cell depletion to prevent GVHD, and the treatment of intractable autoimmune diseases with autologous stem cell transplantation. In 1967, he also co-wrote the book Radiation Chimaeras, which helped define the practice of clinical bone marrow transplantation. Dr. van Bekkum is currently a Professor Emeritus at the University of Leiden and the Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

Authored Blood Articles

Dr. van Bekkum has published numerous articles in the Society's journal Blood.

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