Jump to Main Content


Connie J. Eaves, PhD, to Present the 2018 American Society of Hematology E. Donnall Thomas Lecture

(WASHINGTON, August 14, 2018) – The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will honor Connie J. Eaves, PhD, FRS (Canada), Corresponding FRS (Edinburgh), of BC Cancer and the University of British Columbia, with the 2018 E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize for her outstanding contributions to the field of hematopoiesis and stem cell research.

This lectureship and prize is named after the late Nobel Prize laureate and past president of ASH, E. Donnall Thomas, MD. The E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize recognizes pioneering research achievements in hematology that represent a paradigm shift or significant discovery in the field.

Dr. Eaves will present her lecture, Blood Stem Cells: A Simple Concept, but a Complex Reality, at 9 a.m. on Monday, December 3, at the 60th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego. Her lecture will highlight key advances, future challenges, and exciting opportunities in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) research.

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected to deliver the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture at this year’s ASH annual meeting,” said Dr. Eaves. “For more than a century, researchers and physicians have been captivated by the possibility of understanding blood-forming stem cells and harnessing their potential. We have come a long way from the days when we lacked the technology to study the cellular processes involved in sustaining a lifelong supply of blood cells, and today we’re at the cusp of discoveries that will make this dream come true.”

Dr. Eaves is widely recognized as a leader in the field of hematopoiesis and a pioneer in the characterization of leukemia stem cells. As a PhD student in the late 1960s, she began studies of transplanted immune cell precursors in mice. Then, as a postdoctoral fellow she moved into developing clonal assays for erythroid progenitors. By the late 1970s, she was leading a group focused on some of the initial studies of HSC. Among her many notable contributions to the field, she is known for developing methods to measure and characterize both mouse and human HSC based on their growth and mature cell outputs. This represented a new way of thinking about the control of stem cell renewal and stem cell differentiation. Her research in leukemia stem cells led to the first demonstration in the early 1980s that leukemic stem cells decline faster than their normal counterparts in vitro, which provided a rationale for treating chronic myeloid leukemia with cultured autografts. A few years later, Dr. Eaves was also the first to demonstrate examples of clonal hematopoiesis from normal cells in humans based on X-chromosome inactivation studies, thus anticipating a topic now of increasing interest and relevance to many aspects of normal and malignant human biology.

Dr. Eaves is a professor of medical genetics at the University of British Columbia and a distinguished scientist at the Terry Fox Laboratory at BC Cancer in Vancouver. She has trained many of the current leaders in the field of hematopoiesis and continues to mentor a group of talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She was the recipient of the 2009 Henry M. Stratton medal from ASH, a prestigious award from the Society that honors senior investigators with well-recognized and sustained contributions to basic and translational/clinical research. In addition, she has received numerous other prestigious awards, including the Canadian Blood Services Award for Lifetime Achievement and the International Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Foundation Rowley Prize.

“Dr. Eaves continues to make outstanding contributions to the field through her major breakthroughs in hematopoiesis, particularly in the understanding of hematopoietic stem cell biology,” said ASH President Alexis Thompson, MD, MPH, of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “She continues to be at the forefront of new and improved methods for HSC expansion for clinical use.”

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.

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