Jump to Main Content

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.

ASH will recognize Mohandas Narla, DSc, of the New York Blood Center with the 2020 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology. Dr. Narla is being recognized for his significant contributions to hematology through his ground-breaking research, his inspirational mentoring style, and his invaluable service to ASH and to the advancement of the field at large during his career.

Dr. Narla has had a distinguished research career focused on the pathophysiology of inherited and acquired red blood cell disorders. He is known for his invention of the ektacytometer, a tool used today in clinical research and diagnosis to characterize red blood cell abnormalities. Using his skillset as an engineer, he also invented what can be considered an entire resource toolbox to address various scientific problems. Most recently, Dr. Narla has focused his efforts in developing strategies for the quantitative analysis of the various stages of erythropoiesis in human peripheral blood and bone marrow. He believes that a detailed understanding of normal and disordered erythropoiesis will lay the groundwork for novel diagnostic and therapeutic options that can improve patient care.

Dr. Narla also is commended for his generous and supportive attitude as a mentor to others. He serves as a great role model for less experienced ASH members by highlighting that it is possible to wear the many hats of brilliant researcher, a great mentor and facilitator, and most importantly, an inspiring human being.

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.

ASH will recognize Judith Gasson, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Wendy Stock, MD, of the University of Chicago, with the 2020 ASH Mentor Award for contributing to the professional development of numerous hematology trainees at various stages in their careers.

Dr. Gasson, the basic science awardee, has devoted her career to the study of cytokine biology in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. She has held numerous leadership positions in national societies including serving on the ASH Advisory Board (1993), the ASH Subcommittee on Hematopoietic Growth Factors as a member (1995-1998) and later as a Chair (1996), ASH meeting session chair, abstract reviewer and Meet the Professor participant. Dr. Gasson’s mentees who remained in academia are continuously funded tenure-track investigators at top tier institutions worldwide. Dr. Gasson is commended for being an energetic leader who brings the best out of her mentees while engendering a familial atmosphere. It is clear that she is deeply invested in her trainees’ professional and personal success.

Dr. Stock, the clinical awardee, has been involved in many ASH-related trainee activities, including serving as a faculty member on the steering committee for the Clinical Research Training Institute, member of the study section for the Research Training Award Fellowship, and as co-chair of the ASH Education Program. She is widely known to early phase trainees at her institution as the “go-to” faculty member for guidance regarding productive and educational research opportunities. Her mentees hold diverse careers, from basic science-oriented faculty to clinician-educators and clinicians, and some work entirely outside the field of hematology. She has encouraged professional growth within hematology as well as in pharmacology and infectious disease, and she has helped her mentees establish professional relationships to succeed in these fields.

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, or who have made the commitment to inclusiveness in contributions to the mission of ASH.

ASH will recognize Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts with the 2020 ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity. Dr. Benz is being honored for his efforts to promote women and underrepresented minority hematologists throughout the course of his career.

Dr. Benz successfully established a culture at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute that focused on supporting junior faculty, with specific attention to increasing the number of women and underrepresented minority faculty members. While serving as director of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, he launched a trans-institutional Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities, designed to coordinate cancer disparities research, enhance minority medical student training, and promote development of a diverse faculty throughout the Harvard cancer enterprise. He spearheaded a novel partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston, the area’s largest academic institution that primarily serves minority populations, to develop a more diverse workforce, by encouraging students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in health and science. Additionally, he established the first Dana-Farber clinic in a community health center for minority patients. He is currently the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health R25 grant devoted to promoting minority careers in STEM fields.

ASH Outstanding Service Award

The ASH Outstanding Service Award is presented annually to an individual who has worked tirelessly to raise public awareness and increase research funding for hematologic diseases. The 2020 recipient will be announced at the meeting.

ASH Public Service Award

The ASH Public Service Award is presented annually to an elected public official who has demonstrated unparalleled leadership on issues of importance to hematology research and/or practice. The 2020 recipient will be announced at the meeting.

Chair:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

back to top

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.

ASH will recognize Adolfo Ferrando, MD, PhD, of the Columbia University Institute for Cancer Genetics in New York with the 2020 William Dameshek Prize.

Dr. Ferrando is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) biology. He is being recognized for his transformative work showing that mutations in the NOTCH1 gene drive T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia by hijacking lymphocyte development pathways responsible for cell growth, metabolism and survival. This work supports inhibiting NOTCH1 as potential therapy in this disease.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chair:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

back to top

ASH-EHA Joint Symposium: Failure of Targeted Cellular Immunotherapy and Hematopoietic Cell Transplant: Mechanisms and Mitigating Strategies

Co-Chairs:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

John G. Gribben, MBChB, MD
Centre for Haemato-Oncology, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London
London, United Kingdom

Speakers:

Crystal L. Mackall, MD
National Cancer Institute, NIH
Stanford, CA
North American Perspective: Targeted Cellular Immunotherapy

Luca Vago, MD, PhD
San Raffaele Scientific Institute
Milano, Italy
European Perspective: Hematopoietic Cell Transplant

back to top

Best of ASH

Before heading home, make time to attend this 90-minute session for a review of the key themes from this year's meeting. Led by the 2020 Scientific Program co-chairs, Best of ASH is your opportunity to hear about the biggest breakthroughs from the meeting's scientific presentations.

Co-Chairs:

Alisa S. Wolberg, PhD
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

Leslie Kean, MD PhD
Boston Children's Hospital
Boston, MA

back to top

E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are capable of self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation. The fate of HSCs is determined by the intrinsic cell program and the extrinsic microenvironment (niche) effect. Conceptually, the number of HSCs is determined by the probability of self-renewal division occurring through symmetrical and/or asymmetrical divisions under the influence of niche. Although self-renewal is essential for maintaining HSCs, the mechanism of the process has not been well elucidated and the ex vivo expansion of HSCs remains challenging.


Our work on HSCs encompass the purification of HSCs, identification of cytokine signaling in hematopoiesis, and the characterization of HSC niches in the bone marrow. We have delineated the endosteal and vascular niches for HSCs and have cultivated new fields of oxidative stress (ROS) and stem cell aging.


During step-wise differentiation of stem cells, the metabolic state associated with each differentiation stage differs. We have shown that quiescent HSCs predominantly utilize glycolytic pathways under the control of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) 1-alpha, while proliferating HSCs obtain energy through oxidative phosphorylation and purinergic metabolism.


Cellular metabolism is an area of intense research interest. However, the metabolic requirements and adaptations of stem cells and their niches remain largely unaddressed. I would like to summarize our recent works on HSC metabolism, which suggest that appropriate regulations of the metabolic state of HSCs may allow HSCs to self-renew and expand.

Chair:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

Speaker:

Toshio Suda, MD, PhD
Cancer Science institute, National University of Singapore
Singapore, Singapore
Quiescence and and Cell Metabolism in Hematopoietic Stem Cells

back to top

Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize

Targeting the Aberrant Leukemia Epigenome

One of the great challenges in oncology is development of rational therapeutic regimens, truly specific to pathogenic mechanisms. Achieving this in the context of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a generally fatal tumor with extremely heterogeneous underlying biology, is both an urgent and challenging unmet need. Yet an AML subtype, acute promyelocytic leukemia, was the first tumor to be rendered curable by mechanism-based therapy.  In this case, convergence of therapy and biological mechanism emerged in a somewhat serendipitous manner.  However, it is of paramount importance to extend this novel therapeutic paradigm to a greater fraction of leukemia patients through rigorous translational research.  

More recently, exploring the epigenome of patients with AML led to another serendipitous convergence with potential to transform clinical practice.  Specifically, a subset of AML patients with somatic mutations in the genes IDH1, IDH2, TET2 and WT1 were observed to manifest a highly distinctive epigenetic profile.  Although previously these genes had been considered functionally disconnected, different lines of research were providing clues that fit together to reveal a completely novel pathogenic mechanism.  Central to this new paradigm was the discovery that mutant forms of IDH produce the aberrant onco-metabolite 2HG, which disrupts the function of epigenetic modifier enzymes and transcription factors.

The flurry of activity stemming from this new mechanistic discovery led to the rapid development of targeted small molecules with specific activity against mutant forms of the IDH1 and IDH2 enzymes, which led to rapid translation into the clinic where these agents are now clinically available for patients with AML harboring IDH1 or IDH2 mutations.  This year’s Ernest Beutler Award recipients will present this inspiring bench-to-bedside development story.

Dr. Ari Melnick will describe how defining the “epigenetic landscape” of hematologic malignancies led to demonstration of the role of epigenetic mutations as cancer drivers, highlighting how epigenetic targeted therapies can restore normal transcriptional programming in leukemic cells leading to their eventual extinction.   

Dr. Courtney DiNardo will summarize the recent advances in the clinical care of patients with AML, including small molecule and targeted “epigenetically-active” therapeutics such as the targeted and rationally designed IDH inhibitors that are rapidly changing the treatment landscape and overall expectations of AML therapy.

Chair:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

Speakers:

Ari Melnick, MD
Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, NY
Basic Science

Courtney D. Dinardo, MD,MSc
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
Clinical Science/Translational Research

back to top

Ham-Wasserman Lecture

Avoidance of cell death is one of the hallmarks of cancer. This is particularly true in hematological malignancies where both malignant lymphoid and myeloid cells often are able to circumvent apoptosis. Indeed, the whole field of cell death in cancer was established by the discovery of how BCL2 functioned as a novel oncogene, the first to promote cell survival rather than enhance proliferation. That pioneering research in 1988 led to a >20 year journey of discovery and development that has culminated in the entry into routine clinical practice of a drug that specifically targets and inhibits BCL2.

Venetoclax is the first of a new class of anti-cancer drugs called BH3-mimetics. These small molecules mimic the actions of BH3-only proteins which function as the physiological antagonists of BCL2 and related pro-survival proteins in cells. Venetoclax kills cells by triggering apoptosis and this is entirely dependent upon its interaction with BCL2.

Dr Roberts will outline the basis for the exquisite sensitivity of chronic lymphocytic leukemia to venetoclax and explain why BCL2 inhibition can also be effective in hematological malignancies where expression of high levels of BCL2 is less uniform. His talk will outline the principles underpinning the rational use of combination therapies in acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, lymphomas and myeloma, and the bone fide mechanisms of clinical resistance. After reviewing the current approved uses of venetoclax in CLL and AML, he will discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by current exploration of BCL2 inhibition in trials for patients with other hematological malignancies.

Chair:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

Speaker:

Andrew W Roberts, MBBS, PhD
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Parkville, Australia
Therapeutic Development and Current Uses of BCL-2 Inhibition

back to top

Presidential Symposium: Universal Donor Solutions in Hematology

Many life-saving treatments in hematology depend on removing blood cells or their precursors from one person then reinfusing them back into another person, or the same individual after alteration. In some cases, this product can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars because a complex manipulation must be done for each person. In other cases, a compatible donor is very rare or nonexistent. This session will focus on universal donor solutions in hematology. The three talks will span the field of hematology, from cellular immunotherapy to hematopoietic cell transplantation to red cells and platelets for transfusion. Making effective hematologic therapies available to more people requires universal donors to increase access.

Dr Gay Crooks will discuss a range of innovative approaches to cellular immunotherapy, including gene editing and stem cell engineering, that are focused on the next critical phase for the field: the production of universal, off-the-shelf cellular immunotherapies with targeted and consistent potency, that are rapidly available and effective for all patients.

Dr. Bronwen Shaw will discuss the recent innovations which have significantly expanded the possibility of identifying a donor for every patient requiring an allogeneic stem cell transplant. Advances in graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis, novel pre-transplant conditioning, tissue typing technologies and donor availability have addressed previous barriers and disparities in access.

Dr. Stella Chou will discuss the progress and challenges of generating induced pluripotent stem cell-derived universal platelet or red cell products, as well as customized cells lacking specific antigens to benefit patients with rare blood types. Her talk will review where the field stands on manufacturing clinically relevant cell numbers and achieving the same functionality as donor-derived blood products.

Chair:

Stephanie J. Lee, MD,MPH
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA

Speakers:

Gay M. Crooks, MB, BS
University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Off-the-Shelf Cellular Immunotherapy

Bronwen E. Shaw, PhD, MRCP, FRCPath
Medical College of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI
A Stem Cell Donor for Every Patient

Stella P Chou, MD
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
Universal Platelets and Red Cells