The Joanne Levy, MD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement is given to the ASH Scholar with the highest scoring abstract for the ASH annual meeting as determined by the appointed abstract reviewers. This year’s winner is Grant Challen, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Challen received his PhD from the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) in 2006. During his PhD training, Dr. Challen did research under Prof. Melissa Little in search of stem cells in embryonic and adult kidneys. While working with Dr. Little, he became fascinated by the power of stem cells and became interested in the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) field.
“I grew up on a cattle farm in regional Central Queensland in Australia where it was rare for people to complete high school. To graduate university and obtain a PhD was certainly something that is not considered normal where I come from,” Dr. Challen said.
“After working with the kidney system, which does not have a defined stem cell population, I decided for my postdoctoral work to study the hematopoietic system, which has by far the best defined stem cell system,” Dr. Challen said. “Now, I am fascinated by the regulation of HSCs in the normal processes of self-renewal and differentiation to continually replenish the blood, and the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that may contribute to the transformation of a normal HSC into an oncogenic cell.”
In 2006, Dr. Challen joined the lab of Dr. Margaret Goodell at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, to begin his postdoctoral fellowship studying the molecular regulation of HSCs. During this time his biggest accomplishment has been providing some of the first evidence for the purification of lineage-biased HSCs from bone marrow.
“I am surrounded by amazing people who help me in different ways and allow my research to proceed to the fullest,” said Dr. Challen. “My current lab mates are a tremendous help and inspiration, and I have been truly blessed to have worked with two fantastic mentors — Drs. Little and Goodell — who have been great role models for me.”
Dr. Challen’s current research focuses on the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms controlling the self-renewal and differentiation of HSCs, particularly regulation of gene expression by DNA methylation.
“This award is a huge honor,” Dr. Challen said. “I am very humbled to receive it. ASH Scholars are some of the emerging leaders in their respective fields so to be selected for this award is very exciting.” Dr. Challen’s abstract, “Loss of De Novo DNA Methylation Causes Expansion of the Mouse Hematopoietic Stem Cell Pool” will be presented today at 6:15 p.m. in the Orange County Convention Center, 311 EFGH.
ASH is honored to offer this award, made possible by the Levy family to continue the legacy of their daughter Joanne, a past ASH Scholar Award recipient and distinguished Society member who passed away in 2004.
Dr. Levy graduated from Harvard Medical School and went on to receive many prestigious awards and honors before receiving an ASH Junior Faculty Scholar Award in 2000 for research on the genetic regulation of iron metabolism at Children’s Hospital Boston.
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