A Competitive Runner on the Clinical Research Track
"I have dedicated a significant portion of my career to mentoring trainees at all levels to encourage them to pursue careers in clinical, epidemiology, and translational research; with a particular focus on increasing the number of underrepresented minority research faculty."
Dr. Christopher Flowers’s competitive streak led him far beyond his local, regional, and national track and field championships.
From age of ten, when Dr. Flowers began competing in track and field, running has been his passion. Growing up in Seattle, he and his brother competed in local, regional, and national championships and his family made a yearly pilgrimage to the mecca of track and field at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. As an undergraduate at Stanford, he competed in the 400-meter hurdles and then leveraged his intensive focus to study human biology.
He remained at Stanford as a medical student and continued work with Dr. Kenneth Melmon to investigate the groundbreaking research of Nobel Prize recipients Getrude Elion and George Hitchings involving the translation findings from cellular and animal models to clinically useful drugs including the 6-MP, allopurinol, azathioprine, and AZT. “Although these scientists made the enabling observations for each of these drugs, my research uncovered a series of physicians who served as ‘clinical champions’, and who dramatically sped the process of drug development. It produced a chapter in the 1999 book Pharmaceutical Innovation and a manuscript published in Nature Medicine,” he recalls. Over the following years he trained at Stanford’s Division of Clinical Pharmacology and completed a degree in medical informatics to gain expertise in developing information systems to improve clinical trials research. He completed a second master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy and fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Washington during the time he trained in hematology and oncology.
Running toward science, seems natural for Dr. Flowers whose research has been continuously funded since 2003. As a faculty member he has performed in a variety of functions within the academic medical center: as a clinician, as a clinical investigator, as an educator, and as an investigator. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and in 2020 was appointed Division Head ad interim of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson. He also serves as Chair of the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma where he leads a team of faculty investigators focused on developing innovative treatment approaches for patients with lymphoma and myeloma. This vast experience is one he pays forward – Dr. Flowers has mentored high school students, undergraduates, medical students, hematology/oncology fellows, and junior faculty. He has been involved with ASH in numerous ways since 2003. His service as educational co-chair for the ASH annual meeting, longstanding faculty member and past co-director of the Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI), and Chair of the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, exemplify his commitment to training and development of new leaders in hematology and oncology clinical research: “I have dedicated a significant portion of my career to mentoring trainees at all levels to encourage them to pursue careers in clinical, epidemiology, and translational research; with a particular focus on increasing the number of underrepresented minority research faculty.” These include a number of trainees who he has mentored through the ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP), CRTI, Translational Research Training in Hematology (TRTH), and Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. Despite his extraordinary achievements in medicine, Dr. Flowers, who today runs recreationally, feels most proud of “seeing my children perform in the sport that I love greatly (…) My favorite moments in recent years have been waking up for a morning training run with my children and my wife and seeing the success of my mentees. That surpasses any of my individual accomplishments”, he describes.
ASH remains committed to building and nurturing a global hematology community and workforce inclusive of diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences. Learn more.