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Zhu Chen, MD, PhD, and Hugues de Thé, MD, PhD, to Present 2016 American Society of Hematology Ernest Beutler Lecture

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will honor Zhu Chen, MD, of Shanghai Institute of Hematology and Hugues de Thé, MD, PhD, of Collège de France, with the 2016 Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize for their significant research advances in the area of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).

The Ernest Beutler Lecture, named for the late Ernest Beutler, MD, past president of ASH and physician-scientist for more than 50 years, is a two-part lectureship that recognizes major translational advances related to a single topic. The award honors two individuals, one who has enabled advances in basic science and another for achievements in clinical science or translational research.

Drs. de Thé and Chen will present their lecture on Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia: A Model for Precision Medicine and Cure by Targeted Therapies at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, December 5, at the 58th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego. During their lecture, Dr. de Thé will review the pathogenesis of APL and the molecular basis for its response to therapy, and Dr. Chen will review the conceptual development and clinical advances in APL treatment.

image of Hugues de ThéDr. de Thé, the recipient of the 2016 Ernest Beutler Lecture in Basic Science, is a Professor of Cellular and Molecular Oncology at the Collège de France and at Hôspital Saint-Louis in Paris. He currently heads an INSERM/CNRS research unit. He earned his MD at the University of Paris V and completed his residency in medical research at Residency Paris Hospitals. He also obtained his PhD from University of Paris VI at the Pasteur Institute.

After making important contributions to the understanding of retinoic acid signaling during his training, Dr. de Thé played a key role in the discovery of the PML/RARA oncoprotein, the driver of APL. His further studies of PML/RARA, including how it responds to treatment with retinoic acid and arsenic, led Dr. de Thé to discover further insights about the disease. Notably, his insights into the degradation of this oncoprotein formed the physio-pathological basis for definitive curative regimens, first established in mice and subsequently in patients. 

Beyond his basic research, Dr. de Thé has received numerous awards, including the French Legion of Honor, the Foreign Cooperation Award of the People’s Republic of China, and the José Carreras Award from the European Hematology Association. He currently serves as the President of the scientific advisory board at Bettencourt Schuller Foundation and has previously served as President of the Scientific Council of ARC as well as on the scientific advisory board for the TATA Memorial Foundation.


image of Zhu ChenDr. Chen, the recipient of the 2016 Ernest Beutler Prize for Clinical Science, is a Professor of Molecular Biology at Shanghai Institute of Hematology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (SJTUSM, former Shanghai Second Medical College), and he is the former Health Minister of China. He received his medical training in Ruijin Hospital affiliated to SJTUSM, and completed both his PhD and postdoctoral training in Hôspital Saint-Louis, Université Paris VII.

Dr. Chen has made seminal contributions to the concept and successful paradigm of molecular target-based differentiation/apoptosis therapy of APL. He developed a novel targeted treatment strategy for newly diagnosed APL with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (As2O3), and led the first clinical trial combining ATRA, As2O3, and chemotherapy. This therapy has transformed APL from highly fatal to the first curable acute myeloid leukemia. His basic/translational studies have consistently contributed to disease biology of APL and the mechanism of action of arsenic in treating this disease. 

Dr. Chen has published more than 300 papers in numerous journals, including Nature, Science, Nature Genetics, PNAS, and Blood, which have been cited over 12,000 times. He has also received many awards, including the Ho Leung Ho Lee Award for Science and Technology, the Qui-Shi Award for Outstanding Young Scientist from China, the Cheung Kong Scholars Achievement Award, Prix de l ´Oise from La Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer of France, and the National Foundation for Cancer Research’s Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research. He is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the United States and the French Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of The Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and a member of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. Dr. Chen is also an honorary fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Science and external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Genetics in Germany. 

“Thirty years ago, APL was among the most dreaded and lethal forms of leukemia. Today, it is among the most curable, thanks to the outstanding contributions of Drs. de Thé and Chen,” said ASH President Charles S. Abrams, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania. “Together, their work to understand APL from a molecular level, and then applying those insights to discovering groundbreaking treatments, has significantly improved patient outcomes. Drs. de Thé and Chen’s accomplishments are highly regarded in our field, and I am honored that the Society has chosen them to give one of our most prestigious lectures."

The American Society of Hematology (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society concerned with the causes and treatment of blood disorders. Its mission is to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting blood, bone marrow, and the immunologic, hemostatic, and vascular systems by promoting research, clinical care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. The official journal of ASH is Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online.

Sara Khalaf, American Society of Hematology
[email protected]; 202-552-4925