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Programs

General Sessions

Announcement of Awards: Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, ASH Mentor Awards, ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity, ASH Outstanding Service Award, and ASH Public Service Award

WALLACE H. COULTER AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN HEMATOLOGY

Wallace H. Coulter was a prolific inventor, innovator, and entrepreneur. His Coulter Principle pioneered the development of flow cytometry, defined particle characterization, and made possible automated hematology, thus revolutionizing laboratory medicine. The Coulter Counter led to major breakthroughs in science, medicine, and industry. This award, in his name, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a lasting commitment to the field of hematology through outstanding contributions to education, research, and practice.

Harvey Lodish, PhD, of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a molecular and cellular biologist best known for his studies of the structure and biogenesis of red blood cells, and he is being recognized for many key contributions to hematology over the past six decades. Beginning with his studies on the regulation of globin messenger RNA (mRNA) translation in the 1970s, Dr. Lodish’s work provided new insights into beta thalassemia. In the 1980s, Dr. Lodish’s lab successfully pioneered the cloning of red blood cell membrane proteins, including anion and glucose transporters; his cloning of the erythropoietin receptor was crucial to the identification of a new family of growth factor receptors, now known as the cytokine receptor superfamily. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he worked to identify the function of several key proteins, including JAK and STAT proteins, which are understood today to function in polycythemia vera and other myeloproliferative disorders. More recently, Dr. Lodish led cutting-edge studies using red blood cells as vehicles to deliver drugs and immunomodulatory agents into the human body.

Dr. Lodish is commended not only as a productive researcher, but also as a mentor to more than 200 students and fellows, including two who received Nobel Prizes, who have gone on to make their own key contributions to hematology and other fields.

ASH MENTOR AWARD

The ASH Mentor Award was established to recognize hematologists who have excelled in mentoring trainees and colleagues. Each year the Society recognizes two outstanding mentors drawn from the areas of basic science, clinical investigation, education, or clinical/community care who have had a significant, positive impact on their mentees' careers and, through their mentees, have advanced research and patient care in the field of hematology.

Jonathan Licht, MD, of the University of Florida Cancer Center, is the basic science awardee. He has dedicated the past 30 years of his career to enhancing his trainees’ talents and helping them become effective clinicians, researchers, and teachers. He is committed to helping others grow by offering advice, whether related to science, career, or the personal lives of his trainees. Dr. Licht has served as a valuable mentor in the ASH-EHA Translational Research Training in Hematology one-year mentorship and training program, and in his current role as the director of the University of Florida Cancer Center. He is always looking for ways to advance careers by identifying new grant opportunities, linking faculty and trainees, or forging faculty collaborations. Dr. Licht’s mentees emphasize his passion for science, joy for life, and unparalleled ability to inspire his mentees with the same attributes. Dr. Licht’s own research focuses on abnormalities in the proteins that control transcription from DNA into RNA and ways to reverse aberrant gene regulation and restore normal cellular growth.

Anthony Goldstone, BM BCh, FRCP, FRCPath, of University College London Hospital, is the clinical awardee. He is recognized in his own right as a pioneer in the field of bone marrow transplantation, and he offered his expertise to the next generation of pioneers by taking an active mentorship role in a diverse population of trainees at his institution. His guidance has supported mentees who have gone on to become chief medical officers and presidents of medical societies, and his eye for equal opportunity mentoring has made him an especially dynamic advocate and role model. Dr. Goldstone’s mentees say that his natural inclination to help others, offer them opportunities to work on complex projects, and allow them space to grow within those projects, made them feel he was even more committed to their achievements than his own. Dr. Goldstone’s own achievements include helping to initiate what will be the largest clinical hematology center in Europe.

ASH AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP IN PROMOTING DIVERSITY

The ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity honors hematologists who have supported the development of an inclusive hematology workforce, who have encouraged the career development of underrepresented minority trainees, who have made the commitment to inclusiveness in contributions to the mission of ASH, or who have made accomplishments that aim to eliminate health disparities in the care of hematology patients.

Deepika Darbari, MD, of Children’s National Hospital and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, is being honored for her significant contributions to the mentorship and training of underrepresented minority researchers and for advancing the care for underrepresented patient populations, primarily individuals living with sickle cell disease (SCD). Dr. Darbari started studying and treating SCD at Howard University an HBCU, where she also saw firsthand the many disparity issues surrounding the condition, such as inadequate funding, limited treatment options, and biases and stigma. She also learned about barriers to career development that minority students faced. She worked to address those issues through her mentorship: Dr. Darbari has mentored many medical students, residents, and fellows whose research projects focused on improving care for individuals living with SCD. She has also fostered the careers of junior investigators of underrepresented minorities as well as served as a member of the ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program, the ASH Committee on Promoting Diversity, and the ASH Women in Hematology working group, all in her continued efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion at ASH and in the health care community at large

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

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Announcement of Awards: William Dameshek Prize and Henry M. Stratton Medal

WILLIAM DAMESHEK PRIZE

The William Dameshek Prize, named for the late William Dameshek, MD, a past president of ASH and the original editor of Blood, recognizes an early- or mid-career individual who has made a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology.

Elizabeta Nemeth, PhD, of the University of California Los Angeles, is being recognized for her outstanding work to understand the regulation of iron homeostasis. Dr. Nemeth’s work helped define the role of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin in different iron disorders including hereditary hemochromatosis, ß-thalassemia and anemia of inflammation, elucidated the mechanism of action of hepcidin, and developed novel hepcidin-targeted candidates for the treatment of iron disorders. Dr. Nemeth described how mechanisms limiting iron availability to invading pathogens are crucial in defending against infection, and that those same mechanisms are responsible for the development of anemia in many chronic inflammatory conditions. Dr. Nemeth, professor of medicine at UCLA as well as the founder and director of the UCLA Center for Iron Disorders, has research interests spanning iron pathobiology in pregnancy, infectious disease, inflammatory disorders such as chronic kidney disease, and hemoglobinopathies. Her work has laid the foundation for promising new therapies for anemias and iron overload disorders.

HENRY M. STRATTON MEDAL

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

Denisa Wagner, PhD, of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, is the basic science awardee. She is well known for her contributions to the fields of vascular biology, inflammation, and thrombosis. Her discovery that von Willebrand factor (VWF) is contained in a reservoir within endothelial cells ready to coat the inside of blood vessels to aid platelet and leukocyte recruitment, was important to the understanding of vascular response to injury.  The regulated release of VWF guided subsequent studies on the molecular basis of von Willebrand disease. Her recent study of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), chromatin actively ejected from neutrophils, has led to the discovery of a link between neutrophil activation and thrombosis. This link revealed a significant pathological contribution of “immuno-thrombosis” to ischemic organ injury and cancer.

Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, MD, of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana; Director Emeritus, Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, is the translational/clinical awardee. He is a world leader in the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD) and has established many of the current practice standards for treatment of SCD. One of his key research achievements was in observing the frequency of strokes in young children with SCD, which laid the groundwork for subsequent studies to establish transcranial doppler screening for stroke risk assessment in the patient population. Dr. Ohene-Frempong was also instrumental in advancing clinical trials of hydroxyurea therapy in children with SCD, establishing bone marrow transplant as a cure for SCD, and providing evidence for the benefits of transfusion therapy for SCD complications. For several years, he has led the development of SCD treatment centers in the U.S. and globally, including in his native Ghana as the president of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana and the national coordinator for the ASH Consortium on Newborn Screening in Africa (CONSA).

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

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ASH-EHA Joint Symposium

Targeting Macrophages and the Innate Immune System to Treat Hematologic Malignancies

Strategies to exploit the innate immune system are the focus of worldwide investigation. Macrophages are widespread phagocytes that are important effector cells of the innate immune system. They engage natural killer (NK) cells by both cell-to-cell interactions and the release of cytokines. The 2021 ASH-EHA Joint Symposium will explore mechanisms to take advantage of such effector cells to treat hematologic malignancies with two exciting presentations. Dr. Ravi Majeti will discuss the CD47-SIRPalpha signaling pathway that permits the evasion of malignant cells from the phagocytic function of macrophages, and Dr. Claudia Lengerke will address the role of NK cells in acute myeloid leukemia.

Co-Chairs:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

Elizabeth A. Macintyre, PhD, MD
Necker University Hospital
Paris, France

Speakers:

Ravi Majeti, MD, PhD
Stanford University
Stanford, CA
The CD47-SIRPalpha Signaling Pathway in Cancer Therapy

Claudia Lengerke, MD
University Hospital Basel
Basel, Switzerland
NK Cells in AML

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Best of ASH

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Business Meeting

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

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E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize

Rh and Transfusion in the Era of Genomics

Most people are aware of their Rh blood type and know that it is important in pregnancy and blood transfusion therapy. Over the last 25 years, our understanding of the structure, function, and genetics underlying the Rh proteins has evolved and advanced considerably. These insights have come from functional complementation and transport studies, evolutionary biology (diversity), protein crystallography, genomic sequencing, and the study of the detailed serologic specificity and origin of immune Rh antibodies in patients following transfusion and pregnancy. The understanding that has resulted from these studies, along with the availability of genomic tools, now serves as the foundation for individualized transfusion treatment, especially for those patients needing chronic transfusion therapy.

It remains a mystery why some patients become immunized to foreign blood group antigens when transfused and others do not. Some of the answers lie in the comparative genotypes of the patient and the donor. This lecture will focus on the association of Rh genetic diversity with alloimmunization, the use of genomic blood group antigen profiling for selection of units for transfusion, and the paradigm shift in transfusion therapy that has begun for select patients and will continue to expand for all patients as genomic data become commonplace in medicine.

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

Speaker:

Connie M. Westhoff, PhD
New York Blood Center
New York, NY
Transfusion Medicine

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Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize

Releasing the Brake: Checkpoint Inhibition in Lymphoid Malignancies

Multiple co-stimulatory and co-inhibitory pathways modulate T-cell dependent anti-tumor immune responses in lymphoma.  In specific lymphoid malignancies, genetically perturbed immunoregulatory pathways are attractive treatment targets. Patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) and primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBL) have a genetic basis for enhanced PD-1 signaling and associated tumor immune evasion – recurrent copy gain/amplification of chromosome 9p24/PD-L1(CD274)/PD-L2(PDCDlLG2) and associated overexpression of these PD-1 ligands. These findings prompted the clinical evaluation of PD-1 blockade in patients with cHL and PMBL who have among the highest reported response rates to this treatment. However, the mechanisms of action of PD-1 blockade in cHL and PMBL are incompletely defined. The malignant cells in both diseases are often MHC class I-negative and unable to present antigen to CD8+ T cells. Recent studies highlight the roles of MHC class II-mediated antigen presentation, CD4+ T-cells and additional immune effectors in PD-1 blockade.

Dr. Shipp will discuss emerging insights regarding genetic bases of PD-1 mediated immune evasion in cHL and PMBL and mechanisms of action in these largely MHC class I-negative tumors.

Dr. Ansell will review the clinical results of PD-1 blockade in cHL and PMBL at relapse and earlier timepoints in therapy.

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

Speakers:

Margaret A. Shipp
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA
Basic Science

Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
Clinical Science/Translational Research

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Ham-Wasserman Lecture

Normal and Leukemic Stem Cells

Most hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) divide infrequently but regularly to generate enough new blood cells to replace those that are constantly lost due to normal turnover. However, the most potent adult HSCs are in a state of deep dormancy during homeostasis and exist as single cells in specific niches of the bone marrow. Their transcription and replication machinery is almost completely shut down. In response to stressors such as bacterial or viral infections, severe blood loss, or chemotherapy-induced toxicity, quiescent HSCs are activated in a graded manner to generate billions of new blood cells that regenerate and restore the blood system to homeostatic balance. Such activated HSCs then return to the dormant state and are characterized by functional plasticity while retaining their stem cell identity and potency. The state of dormancy protects the genomic integrity of HSCs, as mutations in HSCs can have severe consequences and lead to clonal hematopoiesis undetermined potential (CHIP) in human. CHIP serves as an origin for myeloid leukemias and is a risk factor for atherosclerotic disease.

In this lecture, Dr. Andreas Trumpp will discuss advances in the understanding of HSC function and plasticity including HSC quiescence, activation and differentiation. Regulation of HSC function by factors such as MYC and molecular processes such as alternative polyadenylation will be discussed and single cell data integrated into current models of mouse and human hematopoiesis. Transient cell cycle arrest and plasticity may allow leukemic stem cells (LSCs) to escape current therapies, while such cells also efficiently escape immune surveillance, including by NK cells. Concepts of therapy escape mechanisms used by LSCs are discussed. They serve as a basis for future rational designs aimed at preventing or overcoming LSC-mediated therapy resistance in the clinical setting.

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

Speaker:

Andreas Trumpp, PhD
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and HI-STEM
Heidelberg, Germany
Normal and Leukemic Stem Cells

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Late-Breaking Abstracts Session

This highly anticipated session highlights the Program Committee's selections of the highest-impact abstracts, featuring substantive, novel, and groundbreaking data that were not available by the general abstract submission deadline and would otherwise not be presented at the ASH annual meeting.

Co-Chairs:

Anita Rajasekhar, MD
University of Florida - Shands Hospital
Gainesville, FL

Alison W. Loren, MD
Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
Philadelphia, PA

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Plenary Scientific Session

During this highlight of the annual meeting, attendees will hear the presentations of the highest-caliber scientific abstracts selected by the Program Committee from among the thousands submitted from around the world.

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Presidential Symposium

Dawn of a New Era: Targeting p53 Mutant Hematologic Malignancies

The tumor suppressor gene p53 is located on chromosome 17 and has an important role in the development of a wide variety of human malignancies. p53 contributes to the normal cascade of events which inhibit tumor formation. However, it is the most frequently mutated gene in human malignancy. Mutations in p53 perturb this series of molecular changes, inhibit the suppressor function of p53, and lead to malignant cell proliferation. Therefore, drug discovery in an effort to target mutant p53 and restore normal p53 function has been an exciting focus of current research. The three presentations will cover a wide range of topics including the basic biology of the p53 gene, drug discovery to target mutant p53 and current therapeutic approaches for p53 mutant hematologic malignancies. 

Dr. Carol Prives will discuss the basic structure and function of the normal and mutated p53 gene and the complex series of molecular events leading to tumor suppression and its inhibition.

Dr. Guillermina Lozano will discuss mechanisms of tumor cell addiction to mutant p53 and therapeutic opportunities.

Dr. Matthew Davids will discuss current therapeutic strategies to inhibit or reactivate mutant p53 and its pathway in both acute and chronic hematologic malignancies now that a number of active agents are available.

Chair:

Martin S. Tallman, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY

Speakers:

Carol Prives, PhD
Columbia University
New York, NY
Mutant p53: History and Speculation

Guillermina Lozano, PhD
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
Drug Discovery and Mutant p53

Matthew S. Davids, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA
Therapy of p53 Mutant Hematologic Malignancies