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Robert C. Flaumenhaft, MD, PhD: 2003 ASH Scholar

Robert C. Flaumenhaft, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

On Receiving the Scholar Award

When I got the Scholar Award, I remember it was a feeling of joy. It’s very unnerving to be a post-doc and looking at how difficult it is to be successful faculty. The idea that a group of experienced scientists in your field sat around and decided that you were somebody who was worthy of this award, knowing how competitive it is, it really boosts your confidence and gives you the idea that you’re going to make it.

Research Focus

One thing that I remember from that period is how the Scholar Award enabled me to pursue high-throughput screening. It was the extra funding and support that I needed to pursue this new idea, because at the time there wasn’t a lot of high-throughput screening done in academia. Even though high-throughput screening had been around in the pharmacy for 40 years, the idea of doing high-throughput screening in order to understand basic biology and interrogate basic biological systems was not common. The Scholar Award sort of gave me the inspiration and resources to pursue that. That’s turned out to be very rewarding, because small molecules are much easier to translate into clinical benefit rather than a determining that a knockout has this or that phenotype.

Career Impact

The Scholar Awards program raises the profile of science within the hematologic community. It does so on many levels. It pulls people into the field of hematology who could potentially go into other fields – basic scientists who, without funding from an organization with an interest in hematology, might do something else. For people who are already committed to hematology, it provides an extra source of funding so that a physician who wants to do basic research, has a basic mechanism of supporting him or herself. This turns out to be critical in that juncture when you’re transitioning from post-doc to a first faculty position. The Scholar Award also provides a certain amount of prestige to young investigators who have gotten this award.

On Belonging to ASH

I feel a great loyalty towards ASH because they helped me at such a critical time in my career. That’s the biggest way that the Scholar Award continues to draw me towards ASH.