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ASH Announces 2024 Honorific Award Recipients

(WASHINGTON, June 18, 2024) — The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will recognize exemplary hematologists who have made significant contributions to the field with several honorific awards at the 2024 ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego on December 7-10. This year’s recipients are a group of pioneering scientists, innovative clinicians, and selfless mentors who have advanced hematology through vital contributions – from revolutionary achievements in cord blood transplants, hematopoietic stem cell research, and microbiome research to supporting medical students underrepresented in medicine.

“ASH is honored to recognize these outstanding hematologists, whose groundbreaking research, mentorship, and dedication have profoundly advanced the field,” said 2024 ASH President Mohandas Narla, DSc, distinguished scientist at New York Blood Center Enterprises. “These visionary leaders have left an indelible mark on hematology and made a lasting impact on the lives of those living with blood disorders.”

The 2024 Honorific Award recipients are:

Éliane Gluckman, MD, PhD, University of Paris
Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology

Dr. Gluckman, a renowned physician-scientist and thought leader, is being recognized for a lifetime of achievement in cord blood transplantation. She performed the world’s first human cord blood transplant, which established cord blood as an alternative stem cell source for patients in need of hematopoietic cell transplantation and shortened the delay between donor identification and actual transplant. Since that revolutionary procedure in 1988, there have been more than 40,000 transplants, with cord blood registries established worldwide.

As a young medical student, Dr. Gluckman was drawn to hematology, a relatively new discipline at the time, because of its potential for growth and innovation. Her first residency position was in the hematology ward at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Paris, where she affirmed her passion and interest in Fanconi anemia and sickle cell disease (SCD). From 1988, she led cord blood research as medical director of the bone marrow transplant service and head of the department of hematology at the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris. Currently, she is head of the EuroCord research group on cell therapy for malignant and non-malignant diseases in children.

Dr. Gluckman has continued to shape hematology. Her impact includes significant contributions to the understanding of hematologic disorders such as aplastic anemia, Fanconi anemia, and sickle cell disease through the design of new conditioning protocols that are used to prepare patients for stem cell transplantation.

Dr. Gluckman is currently leading a project that examines immunogenetic factors that could predict the outcomes and probability of finding a donor for stem cell transplants in people living with sickle cell disease and other hereditary disorders. She has trained many investigators in the field and helped establish bone marrow transplant units in their respective countries.

Stuart Orkin, MD, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
John Tisdale, MD, National Institutes of Health
Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize

This lecture and prize recognizes the work of two physician-scientists, Drs. Orkin and Tisdale, for advancing the treatment of hemoglobin disorders. Dr. Orkin has made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms foundational to gene therapy for hemoglobin disorders, while Dr. Tisdale has led significant advances in hematopoietic cell transplantation, gene therapy, and clinical trials for these disorders, including sickle cell disease (SCD) transplantation.

Dr. Orkin is being recognized for his work on the switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin expression, a process that is completed shortly after birth. He provided the first comprehensive description of the mutations responsible for beta-thalassemia and identified the BCL11A gene and its mechanism of action as a potential target to turn fetal hemoglobin back on in the adult to treat SCD and beta-thalassemia. This work set the stage for clinical trials using gene editing.

Dr. Tisdale is being honored for his leadership in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which led to cell-based gene therapy and gene editing trials for SCD and beta-thalassemia. His work built upon decades of research in allogeneic bone marrow and hematopoietic cell transplantation strategies to identify collection strategies for hematopoietic stem cells, optimal conditioning regimens, and strategies for achieving safe and efficient gene transfer.

Together, Drs. Orkin and Tisdale’s findings provided the foundation needed to develop the first FDA-approved, cell-based gene therapies for beta-thalassemia and SCD.

James George, MD, University of Oklahoma
ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity

Dr. George is being honored for his exemplary leadership in building a stronger, more diverse hematology workforce. Under his leadership as ASH President in 2005, the Society collaborated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (AMFDP) to create ASH-funded AMFDP positions in hematology. Since the program’s inception, ASH has supported nearly 30 recipients, many of whom have risen to the ranks of senior faculty in their institutions.

Dr. George was also a strong supporter of the ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP), which provides research support for medical students underrepresented in medicine to encourage them to pursue hematology. To date, the MMSAP has supported more than 300 research opportunities for medical students. Additionally, Dr. George codeveloped and directed the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI), an inclusive yearlong program that offers broad education for clinicians on clinical research methods. Dr. George has continued to mentor the next generation of hematologists, including mentees from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine, international students, women, and individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Ami Bhatt, MD, PhD, Stanford Medicine
William Dameshek Prize

Dr. Bhatt is being recognized for pioneering the development and application of genomic approaches to studying the microbiome — work that has improved outcomes for many human diseases. She has applied microbiomics in the clinical setting to study the impact of gut decontamination on transplant outcomes and has co-led efforts to study the microbiome in the context of evolving graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis strategies. Dr. Bhatt successfully linked bloodstream infections and outcomes in transplant patients to characteristics within the gut microbiome and uncovered a link between prolonged gastrointestinal SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding and gastrointestinal symptoms, among other major findings. Her unique and highly collaborative work has broad implications across biomedicine, with her landmark research resulting in a broad expansion of knowledge on microbial enzymes that can be developed for gene therapy.

Sean J. Morrison, PhD, Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern
E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize

Dr. Morrison, a scientist and renowned researcher, is being honored for his work in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) biology. His laboratory has performed paradigm-shifting research that has evolved how hematologists and others understand the regulation of HSC function. His research focuses on the intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms that regulate stem cell maintenance and the role these mechanisms play in cancer. In particular, he identified new mechanisms that regulate blood cell production and bone marrow regeneration after chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation, which can be used in the development of cancer therapies. In addition to his work, Dr. Morrison has mentored many trainees who have gone on to become leaders in hematopoiesis research.

Douglas Cines, MD, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Katherine High, MD, The Rockefeller University
Henry M. Stratton Medal

Dr. Cines, the recipient of the Henry M. Stratton Medal for basic science, is being honored for more than 40 years of research discoveries that have led to significant increases in the understanding and treatment of thrombocytopenic disorders, including immune thrombocytopenia, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), and thrombocytopenia in pregnancy. Dr. Cines’ main research interest is immunothrombosis, or how the immune system and coagulation interact. He was instrumental in identifying the role of endothelial cells — which help regulate clotting and breakdown of blood clots — as targets of immune injury in lupus, HIT, and antiphospholipid syndrome, thereby providing a rationale for the connection of these disorders to thrombosis.

Dr. High, the recipient of the Henry M. Stratton Medal for translational/clinical science, is being recognized for spearheading the development of a gene therapy for hemophilia B, approved earlier this year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada. This success comes after more than two decades of challenging research during which she directly contributed to the understanding of DNA defects in hemophilia B, factor VII, and factor X, as well as performed several first-of-their-kind clinical trials in gene therapy, including the first intramuscular and intravascular administrations of an adeno-associated viral vector. These studies resulted in adverse events that were not predicted by animal studies, the basis for which she unraveled in bedside-to-bench laboratory investigations. Dr. High’s research interests, sparked by a chemistry set she was gifted at age 10, also extend to inherited blindness. She was instrumental in developing a gene therapy to restore vision loss in patients with this condition, the first-ever gene therapy for genetic disease to be approved by the FDA in 2017.

Stephen D. Nimer, MD, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Charles A. Schiffer, MD, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine
ASH Mentor Award

Dr. Nimer, a physician-scientist specializing in myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, is being recognized for his impact on more than 100 hematology trainees with his tailored, encouraging, and community-focused mentorship. Dr. Nimer serves as a role model for trainees and instills in them the importance of thinking critically and embracing challenges. His willingness to provide feedback, dedication to seizing growth opportunities, and catchy “Nimer-isms” have all helped propel mentees into thriving careers, with many receiving career development awards from foundations and federal agencies. A hallmark of his mentorship is the sense of community he creates, demonstrated by more than 20 years of annual Nimer lab breakfasts at the ASH annual meeting, during which, even long after leaving his lab, mentees share their progress and seek Dr. Nimer’s advice.

For Dr. Schiffer, an expert in platelet transfusion therapy and the treatment of adult leukemias, mentoring the next generation of hematologists comes naturally. Dr. Schiffer leads by example and challenges trainees to remain curious, seize opportunities, and think creatively. His mentees have described him as a one-of-a-kind generational teacher and characterize him as a “mentor of mentors.” Dr. Schiffer is widely known for his open-door approach and fine-tuned ability to provide clinical care with rigor, bright humor, and compassion. He has trained large numbers of successful clinical investigators whose contributions have substantially influenced leukemia and cancer research and improved patient outcomes.

These recognition awards will be presented during the 66th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition, December 7-10, 2024, in San Diego, California.

Learn more about the ASH Honorific Awards.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (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. Since 1958, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology.

The Blood journals (https://ashpublications.org/journals) are the premier source for basic, translational, and clinical hematological research. The Blood journals publish more peer-reviewed hematology research than any other academic journals worldwide.


Melissa McGue, American Society of Hematology
[email protected]; 202-552-4927