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2018 Minority Hematology Scholars to Study New Methods for Improving Blood Disease Treatments

(WASHINGTON, January 18, 2018) – The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is pleased to announce that Melody Smith, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Allistair Abraham, MD, of Children’s National Health System have been selected to participate in the American Society of Hematology-Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (ASH-AMFDP), a partnership between ASH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority scholars in the field of hematology with academic and research appointments, the ASH-AMFDP provides four-year research awards, including an annual stipend of up to $75,000 and an annual research grant of $30,000, for a total of $420,000 over the course of the program. Drs. Smith and Abraham will spend at least 70 percent of their ASH-AMFDP-funded research under the mentorship of senior faculty at their respective institutions. Dr. Abraham began his project in January 2018 and Dr. Smith will begin her project in July 2018.

Dr. Smith’s research focuses on the use of donor-derived CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant. She aims to further clarify the mechanism for the reduction of graft versus host-disease (GVHD) when donor-derived CD19 CAR T cells are used in the post-transplant setting. She will also investigate whether there is interplay of the microbiota on the efficacy or potential toxicity of therapy with CD19 CAR T cells. Dr. Smith currently serves as an assistant attending on the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. 

Dr. Abraham’s research focuses on improving curative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for sickle cell disease (SCD). More specifically, he will study immune mechanisms of rejection in haploidentical transplantation for SCD and will also be evaluating virus-specific T cell (VST) recovery after transplantation and determining if VST infusions can speed this recovery. Altogether, this work will provide new data to determine how rapid viral protection can be restored for people with SCD undergoing transplantation. Dr. Abraham is an attending physician at Children’s National Health System and an assistant professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. 

“ASH is committed to supporting a diverse biomedical workforce through its Minority Recruitment Initiative, of which the ASH-AMFDP is just one component,” said 2018 ASH President Alexis Thompson, MD, MPH, of Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “We are very proud of this unique program, which supports these talented investigators as they grow in their careers while ultimately improving care for the patients who will benefit from their discoveries.”

The ASH-AMFDP is supported by the ASH Foundation.

The American Society of Hematology (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 50 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online. In 2016, ASH launched Blood Advances (www.bloodadvances.org), an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

The ASH Foundation (http://hematology.org/Foundation) is dedicated to moving hematology forward through support of research, career development, and quality care and education programs. The ASH Foundation is supported through funding, resources, and leadership provided by ASH, the premier organization for physicians and scientists studying and treating blood disorders, and provides a mechanism for ASH members to give in support of critical programs. Personal donations to the ASH Foundation allow the Society to do more for hematology through the expansion or enhancement of existing programs.

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