American Society of Hematology

Where Can ASH Awards Take You? Stories From the ASH Early-Career Awardees

Ze Zheng, MBBS, PhD Columbia University, New York, NY

Good research should be recognized, funded, and advanced. ASH provides funding and training opportunities through various awards for trainees and early-career investigators in the field of hematology. As trainees, getting awards not only builds our CVs and enhances our careers. It also gives us opportunities to think in-depth on research projects and career directions. We collected stories from ASH awardees to learn what ASH awards mean to them and how they helped their careers. For more information about each award and to apply, click on the links throughout this article, or visit the ASH website.

“I received my first ASH Scholar award right before I went on the job market; it was essential for my ability to demonstrate a track record of independent funding. After that I participated in the Translational Research Training in Hematology [TRTH], which was a tremendous opportunity to refine a project that grew out of my ASH Scholar award and hone my grant writing skills. I continue to receive mentorship from TRTH faculty and peer mentorship from my cohort—a really fun and dynamic group of scientists at a similar career stage. This experience was instrumental in the development of a project that was just funded by ACS. Finally, transitioning from applying for trainee level grants to faculty-level awards where you are competing with highly successful and established PIs [principal investigators] can be a bit of a rough transition. My ASH Scholar Junior Faculty award, imbued me with the confidence to keep submitting my projects and also provided funding at a critical juncture to advance an exciting project.” –Julia Maxson, PhD

“My experience has been exceptionally positive. In a way these awards are really sequential and complementary: The HONORS award allowed me to pursue smaller research projects during residency and to stay “in the research loop” during my clinical training. The ASH Scholar award currently allows me to launch my own research program and enables me to generate invaluable preliminary data for NIH [National Institutes of Health] and DOD grants. I am very grateful for the contiguous support provided by ASH.” –Moritz Stolla, MD

“The ASH Scholar award was integral in my transition from trainee to PI. Having the award not only helped me get faculty interviews by making me a more attractive candidate, but also gave me confidence in my ability to create and obtain funding for a novel independent line of research.” –Kellie Machlus, PhD

“I've been lucky to have received several career-development awards from ASH at different stages in my career. These have been very meaningful to me because the early ones spurred my interest in research in hematologic malignancies and the more recent ones have allowed me to have protected time for research by providing salary support. Beyond the financial support, these awards also build confidence by recognition on a national level and provide many networking opportunities at the ASH annual meeting and beyond.” –Justin Taylor, MD (AMFDP and ASH Research Training Award for Fellows [RTAF] recipient)

“The ASH award mechanisms provide support at every step of training – understanding that researchers need help during extended postdoctoral fellowships as well as in the transition to junior investigators. The ASH awards also provide support by establishing an international cadre of interested mentors in hematology.” –David Sykes, MD, PhD (ASH Scholar Award and RTAF recipient)

“Being awarded both the ASH Scholar Award and RTAF gave me the support I needed to ensure I had protected time for research so that I could pursue my goal of becoming an independent physician-scientist.” –Kelly Bolton, MD, PhD

“Winning the RTAF award helped protect my time and started me on my path in clinical and translational research. Several years later, winning the ASH Scholar award allows me to take risks and move my research into a new and hopefully fruitful direction. I am grateful to ASH for its support, as if you had asked me at the beginning of fellowship, I would have never imagined myself in this exciting research career which I now love.” –Anthony Sung, MD

“The awarding of my 2015-2016 RTAF was critical to my academic growth and instrumental in my future success in molecular hematopathology research because it provided the academic and career support I needed to generate and publish my first significant manuscripts in molecular oncology in 2016 and 2017 that laid the foundation for my proposed research which resulted in my being awarded a 2018-2023 K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute, a 2018-2020 NIH Loan Repayment Program Award, and a 2018-2019 Erdheim-Chester Disease Global Alliance Foundation grant. Ultimately, the research directions supported by these subsequent grants, which all stemmed from the 2015-2016 RTAF allowed me to successfully compete for a 2019-2021 ASH Scholar Fellow Award in Basic/Translational Research, which will support me during my transition to research independence in the next two years. Overall, the phenomenal support from ASH since 2015 directly impacted the awarding of my other grants and led to my publishing six first or co-first author papers in Nature, Nature Medicine, Cancer Discovery, Blood, and Pediatric Blood & Cancer, as well as 32 other co-author papers related to hematological malignancies over the past four years.” –Benjamin Durham, MD

RTAF was the very first grant that I received and was critical in allowing me to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in lab-based research while completing my clinical fellowship. This award also encouraged me to pursue future grants such as the ASH Scholar Fellow and Faculty Awards, each of which have been similarly instrumental at each stage of my career so far. In addition to providing funding the ASH Scholar Awards provided honorific prestige which has helped me attain additional larger funding such as NIH K08 and R01 funding. I am forever grateful to ASH for fostering my career development with these awards!” –Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD (Dr. Abdel-Wahab is Dr. Durham’s RTAF and Scholar Award mentor).

NEW hematology research awards, the Minority Hematology Fellow Award and the Minority Hematology Graduate Award Program, are now available for minority graduate students and fellows from groups under-represented in the health-related sciences in the United States and Canada through ASH Minority Recruitment Initiative.

Submit your applications and see where ASH awards can take you!

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