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Henry M. Stratton Medal Recipients (Formerly Lecture)

2020 Henry M. Stratton Medal Recipients: Michelle Le Beau, PhD, and Maria Domenica Cappellini, MD

ASH will recognize Michelle Le Beau, PhD, of the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Maria Domenica Cappellini, MD, of the University of Milan in Italy, with the 2020 Henry M. Stratton Medal for their contributions to basic and clinical/translational hematology research.

The Henry M. Stratton Medal is named after the late Henry Maurice Stratton, cofounder of Grune & Stratton, the medical publishing house that first published ASH’s flagship journal, Blood. The prize honors two senior investigators whose contributions to basic and clinical/translational hematology research are well recognized and have taken place over a period of several years.

Dr. Le Beau has dedicated her research career to cytogenetic and molecular analysis of hematologic malignancies for the purpose of risk stratification and treatment selection. Focusing on cytogenetic aspects of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), she was key to the development of the first International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) classification for MDS. Dr. Le Beau is also recognized for her work in defining the genetic basis of therapy-related myeloid neoplasms, and in identifying tumor suppressor genes involved in the deletions of chromosome 5. Her research accomplishments contributed to the understanding that the loss of a single allele (haploinsufficiency) of multiple critical genes on chromosome 5 cooperate to mediate the adverse phenotype, and that alterations in the bone marrow environment synergize with altered hematopoietic cells to give rise to these myeloid neoplasms.

“We engage in research for the elegance and purity of science and to improve the outcomes for patients, not to search for accolades,” said Dr. Le Beau. “To receive recognition for your contributions is an honor, but it truly becomes exquisite when it comes from your peers and the leading organization in hematology.”

Dr. Cappellini is being recognized for her research in novel therapeutic challenges for thalassemias and sickle cell disease (SCD), including gene therapy and other pharmacologic treatments. These new treatments could significantly change the survival and quality of life of people suffering from these diseases. She has been involved in translational and clinical research focused on thalassemia for nearly four decades. Through the advent of techniques of molecular biology in the 1980s, Dr. Cappellini characterized the genotypes and phenotypes of beta thalassemia major, beta thalassemia intermedia, alpha thalassemia, and rare combinations of thalassemias that informed researchers’ understanding of the natural history of these disorders and allowed for molecular-based genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis.

“It is a great honor for me to receive such an important award from the American Society of Hematology,” said Dr. Cappellini. “When I first received the communication I was astonished because I never expected to be recognized and appreciated by colleagues all over the world for what I did during my 40 years of career working on rare hematologic disorders. This will be a very emotional event in my life.”