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Mark D. Fleming, MD, DPhil: 1999 ASH Scholar

Mark D. Fleming, MD, DPhil
S. Burt Wolbach Professor of Pathology
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

On Receiving the Scholar Award

The ASH Scholar Award was the first substantial award I got. I was able to use that award to begin to diversify my research portfolio. It was really one of the sort of things that allowed me to springboard into an independent career.

Research Focus

As a young faculty member, or even before you get your first faculty position, you have to do work, particularly in the research domain. You need to have something that stands out; you need to hit a home run. The only way to do things that stand out, particularly in the short-term, is by taking risks. In the longer run, researchers’ careers are built on hitting singles and building upon them. Truly substantial research careers are hard to come up with absolutely transformative, epiphany-like findings every time. But early on, you need to take those risks and get big findings. I was lucky I was able to actually do something a little bit different. I went in a different direction earlier in my career and I came back to what I did in my ASH award.

On Belonging to ASH

Whether I understood it at the time, the Scholar Award was the first time that I became wedded to ASH for life. Even though I’m a pathologist and the chairman of a pathology department, I’m not particularly wedded to the pathology community in the same way that I’m wedded to the hematology community.

The Scholar Award is yet another way that ASH shows how it is a different organization than many of the other organizations that I have been affiliated with. ASH’s dedication to mentorship, to getting people off the ground and moving ahead in academics and in medicine is really exemplary. It’s part of the portfolio that makes ASH special.