American Society of Hematology

The American Society of Hematology Honors John C. Byrd, MD, with 2015 William Dameshek Prize

Published on: July 23, 2015

John Byrd - Dameshek

(WASHINGTON, July 23, 2015) The American Society of Hematology will present the 2015 William Dameshek Prize to John C. Byrd, MD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) for his contributions to the development of transformative treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), most notably rituximab and ibrutinib.

This prize, named after the late William Dameshek, MD, a past president of ASH and the original editor of Blood, recognizes a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology. Dr. Byrd will accept his award at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 8, during the 57th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando.

Dr. Byrd is the D. Warren Brown Chair of Leukemia Research at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he holds the academic rank of Professor of Internal Medicine; Medicinal Chemistry; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; and Veterinary Bioscience. He is the Director of the Division of Hematology and Program Co-Leader of the Leukemia Research Program in the OSUCCC. Dr. Byrd is internationally recognized for his translational research focused on the development of targeted, immune-based treatments for leukemia.

Throughout his more than 20-year career, Dr. Byrd has revolutionized the way CLL is viewed and treated, yielding practice-changing therapies for patients with the disease. Early in his career, Dr. Byrd developed and defined the mechanism of action of the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab, the first therapy to prolong survival in CLL. He led the pre-clinical and clinical development of the targeted therapy ibrutinib, an advance that disproved the widely held notion that only cancers with a single molecular target could be treated with targeted therapy. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ibrutinib in 2013, Dr. Byrd has continued to facilitate research addressing drug resistance and exploring alternative treatment strategies.

Dr. Byrd began his medical career in 1991 after earning his medical degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine and fellowship in hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplantation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Dr. Byrd received translational laboratory training at Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Michael Grever, MD, with whom he has continued to work closely throughout his career. As a junior Army Medical Corps Officer, Dr. Byrd focused his research effort on understanding the biology of CLL and also developing new targeted treatments for this disease. Following his military service, in 2001 Dr. Byrd joined The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center where he has transformed the Hematologic Malignancies Program from a joint Hematology-Oncology Program with seven members into a distinct Division of Hematology with nearly 50 members, most of whom are women. He is active in cooperative group research, serving as a member of the CLL Research Consortium and in several leadership roles within the Cancer and Leukemia Group B and Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.

Dr. Byrd has been heavily involved in ASH throughout his career, serving as faculty and co-director of the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute, one of the Society’s hallmark training programs. He currently serves as an Associate Editor of Blood and has also served as a Contributing Editor of the Society’s member publication The Hematologist. Beyond his involvement with ASH, Dr. Byrd is active in the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research and serves as a board member of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published more than 375 peer-reviewed articles.

"The Society is honored to recognize Dr. Byrd with the William Dameshek Prize for his outstanding contributions in the area of CLL that extend or improve the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of patients each year,” said ASH President David A. Williams, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Harvard Medical School. “His continued challenge of the status quo in the way CLL is studied and treated has led to a complete paradigm shift and enormous progress in how we manage the disease. I have known and admired Dr. Byrd for a number of years and I am personally honored to be able to recognize him on behalf of ASH for his many contributions to research in blood disorders and his dedication to his patients with leukemia."

The American Society of Hematology ( is the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders. Its mission is to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic, and vascular systems by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. The official journal of ASH is Blood (, the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online.

Alicia Davids, American Society of Hematology; 202-552-4925​

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