American Society of Hematology

The American Society of Hematology Honors Life, Accomplishments of Aaron J. Marcus, MD, with Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology

Published on: July 23, 2015

Aaron Marcus - Coulter

(WASHINGTON, July 23, 2015) The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will recognize the late Aaron Marcus, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System with the 2015 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology. Dr. Marcus, who passed away in May 2015, will be honored for his groundbreaking research in hemostasis and thrombosis and his unwavering dedication to the field throughout his nearly 60-year career.

The Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, the Society’s highest honor, is named for the late Wallace Henry Coulter, a prolific inventor who made important contributions to hematology and to ASH. Mr. Coulter is best known for his work to develop the Coulter Principle, an innovative method for counting, measuring, and evaluating cells and microscopic particles suspended in fluid that revolutionized the use of basic blood tests to screen for disease. The award commemorates Mr. Coulter’s innovative spirit, visionary leadership, and entrepreneurship and is bestowed on an individual who has demonstrated lifetime achievement and leadership in education, research, mentoring, and practice. ASH President David A. Williams, MD, will present the award to Dr. Marcus’ children on Sunday, December 6, during the 57th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, Florida.

From 1958 until his death, Dr. Marcus served as Chief of Hematology-Oncology at the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System and an Attending Physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. In 1973, Dr. Marcus began work at Weill Cornell Medical College, first serving as Professor of Medicine, then as Professor of Medicine in Pathology and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Dr. Marcus was selected for this honor prior to his passing. ASH will be honoring him posthumously in recognition of the profound impact that he has made on the field of hematology. Over the course of his long career, Dr. Marcus made many contributions to hematology, specifically in the area of hemostasis and thrombosis. His pioneering study of platelets and their interaction with other cells that can lead to thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and inflammation laid the foundation for modern anti-thrombotic therapy for heart attack and stroke. His consistent successes earned him continuous funding beginning in 1958 from the National Institutes of Health and Veterans Affairs Administration.

Dr. Marcus' early research focused on the isolation and characterization of major lipids in platelet membranes in order to determine their specific role in clotting. This innovative work led to the development of the partial thromboplastin time (PTT) test that has been for many years and continues to be routinely used to assess hemostasis. Dr. Marcus gained international recognition when he became the first investigator to determine how acetylsalicylic acid – the active ingredient in aspirin – interacts with platelets and red blood cells to protect against heart attack and stroke. His research on cell-cell interactions led to the concept of transcellular metabolism, paving the way for the discovery of “thromboresistance,” a term he coined to describe how platelets are incapable of being activated by known platelet agonists. Dr. Marcus published more than 300 original papers and book chapters, including landmark publications such as “The Physiology of Blood Platelets” with Marjorie Zucker, PhD, and his historic review, “Platelet Function,” which appeared in three consecutive issues of the New England Journal of Medicine  in 1966.

Dr. Marcus’ recent research focused on a new compound, CD39, that he hoped would one day become a novel, effective, and safe therapy for arterial diseases. After characterizing CD39 at the molecular level, Dr. Marcus demonstrated that the agent could inhibit platelets in animal models of stroke and cardiac ischemia to reduce tissue injury. He hoped to pursue translation of these basic findings into the clinical realm.

In addition to his numerous scientific contributions, Dr. Marcus mentored multiple generations of hematologists, several of whom are now major leaders in the field. Dr. Marcus similarly devoted himself to his patients; he was particularly committed to the care of veterans and to the development of the Veterans Affairs New York Medical Center where he served for more than 50 years.

“With his pioneering studies on platelets, aspirin, and CD39 and steadfast commitment to patients, students, and colleagues, Dr. Marcus embodied the values of the Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology,” said ASH President David A. Williams, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Harvard Medical School. “Dr. Marcus was well-known for his dedication, passion, and creativity. His legacy will live on in the leaders he trained, the patients he treated, and the research to which he dedicated his life that formed the bedrock of anti-thrombotic therapy for arterial diseases. I am very much in awe of his many contributions to the field of hematology and am personally honored to have him recognized in this way by ASH.”

Dr. Marcus began his medical career in 1953 after earning his medical degree from New York Medical College. Following medical school, he completed an internship at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn and served as a resident and fellow at Montefiore Hospital in New York. He spent his entire medical career in New York and remained an active member of the hematology community until his death.

Dr. Marcus was active in ASH and other societies, and he was the recipient of many prestigious awards. He served as a member or chair of several ASH committees and educational programs and was selected to deliver the ASH Henry M. Stratton Lecture in 1989. Dr. Marcus was also a member of the American College of Physicians, the American Federation for Clinical Research, the Harvey Society, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He served three terms as president of the New York Society for the Study of Blood and served on numerous editorial boards, including Blood and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. His most distinguished awards include the 2001 International Aspirin Senior Award, the Special Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs in recognition of 50 years of research service in 2001, and the NIH Merit Award in 2004.

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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