Published: December 12, 2007
Atlanta, Dec. 5 — The American Society of Hematology (ASH), the world’s largest professional society of blood specialists, is honoring three scientists who have made notable contributions to the genetic understanding of disease. Carlo Croce, MD, will receive the Henry M. Stratton Medal, intended to honor an individual with a distinguished career in hematology, and William P. Vainchenker, MD, PhD, will receive the William Dameshek Prize, awarded to an individual who has made a recent and outstanding contribution to the field. In addition, Ernest Beutler, MD, will be the first new recipient of the Wallace H. Coulter Aware for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, bestowed on an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the specialty, and whose contributions have had a significant impact on education, research and/or practice. These awards, named after important figures in the Society’s history, will be awarded during the 49ths ASH Annual Meeting in December at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
“The discoveries made by Drs. Croce, Vainchenker, and Beutler have altered the paradigm of medical thinking not only in hematology, but many other fields as well, and impacted the lives of many patients for the better,” said ASH president Andrew Schafer, MD, of the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. “It is my honor to recognize these outstanding individuals for their achievements.”
With his discovery of the workings of the MYC oncogene in Burkitt lymphoma, Dr. Croce was one of the first to make a case for the genetic basis for cancer. A prolific researcher, he later identified several other genes and their mechanisms of action responsible for the pathogenesis of lymphoma, leukemia, and many other cancers. Dr. Croce is currently Professor and Chairman of the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics and Director of the Human Cancer Genetics Program at the Ohio State University School of Medicine in Columbus.
Dr. Vainchenker will be recognized for his research on the genetic basis of myeloproliferative diseases, which result in an overproduction of blood cells in the bone marrow. He was the first to find that a single mutation of the JAK2 gene commonly occurred in patients with three distinct disorders: polycythemia vera, idiopathic myelofibrosis, and essential thrombocythemia, a discover which has profound implications for potential therapies. Dr. Vainchenker is currently INSERM Directeur de Recherche Exceptionnel and Director of the INSERM Unit 790 at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, France.
Dr. Beutler is a physician-scientist whose career has spanned more than half a century. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Beutler made significant contributions to the understanding of the biochemical and genetic causes underlying disorders of the red blood cell, originated the concept of the X-chromosime inactivation in human females independently of mouse geneticist Mary Lyon, and provided the first formal proof of this phenomenon – an insight that has become one of the cornerstones of mammalian genetics. He also developed screening tests for the genetic disorders of galactosemia and Gaucher disease. He is currently Professor and Chairman, Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA.
Dr. Beutler’s award will be presented prior to the Plenary Scientific Session on Sunday, December 9, at 1:30 p.m. EST in Hall A1. Drs. Croce and Vainchenker will be presented with their awards at the Presidential Symposium to be held on Tuesday, December 11, from 9″30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Hall A1. For the complete annual meeting schedule and additional information, please visit http://www.hematology.org/meetings/2007.