American Society of Hematology honors prominent researchers with major awards

December 09, 2003

(San Diego, Calif., December 9, 2003) - The American Society of Hematology is pleased to announce the winners of two of the Society's highest honors. Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., has been chosen to receive the 2003 William Dameshek Prize, and Janet Rowley, M.D., has been awarded the Henry M. Stratton Medal. Dr. Gilliland and Dr. Rowley are being recognized for their exceptional contributions to hematology research.

The William Dameshek Prize, endowed by the late Dr. William Dameshek, a past president of the Society and the original editor of Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology, recognizes an investigator who has made recent outstanding contributions to hematology research. This year's recipient is Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., who is recognized for his important work on the molecular pathogenesis of leukemia. Dr. Gilliland's discoveries have provided new ways to look at how cancer is caused and how it can potentially be cured.

Recently, Dr. Gilliland's team discovered the cause of hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) based on responsiveness of HES patients to the leukemia drug imatinib (Gleevec). Dr. Gilliland and his colleagues also have developed strategies for effective treatment of HES patients who have developed resistance to small molecule inhibitors such as imatinib. Future research will investigate whether these strategies may one day benefit leukemia patients who are imatinib-resistant.

Dr. Gilliland is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and is a faculty member of the school's Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program in the Department of Genetics. He is also the Director of the Leukemia Program at the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center, an Associate Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Janet Rowley, M.D., is the 2003 recipient of the Henry M. Stratton Medal. This medal honors an individual whose contributions to hematology are well recognized and have taken place over a period of several years. The prize is named after the late Henry Maurice Stratton, who made significant contributions to the Society and co-founded the medical publishing house of Grune & Stratton.

The Stratton Medal is an addition to an already impressive list of honors bestowed upon Dr. Rowley, including the nation's highest scientific honor, the National Medal of Science, and the nation's highest honor for clinical medical research, the Albert Lasker Clinical Medicine Research Prize.

In 1972, Dr. Rowley discovered a chromosomal translocation in acute myelogenous leukemia, the first time this type of translocation had been discovered in any human cancer. Discoveries of chromosomal translocations in other types of leukemia followed, cementing the idea that these genetic abnormalities were an important component of the disease. Later, it was found that some translocations resulted in a better prognosis than others. These findings have made Dr. Rowley an international success and fundamentally changed the way cancer is diagnosed and treated. Dr. Rowley continues her study of chromosomal rearrangement in leukemia to this day.

Dr. Rowley is currently the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and the Human Genetics Section of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Gilliland and Dr. Rowley will be formally presented with their awards on December 9, 2003, at the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The American Society of Hematology's 45th Annual Meeting, to be held December 6-9, 2003, at the San Diego Convention Center, provides hematologists from around the world a forum for discussing critical issues in hematology. Nearly 20,000 clinicians, scientists, and others attend the four-day meeting, which consists of a superb educational program and cutting-edge scientific sessions. For more information, please visit www.hematology.org/meeting.
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For more information about ASH or to obtain photographs of the award recipients, please contact Aislinn Raedy at (202) 776-0544 or by e-mail at araedy@hematology.org.

The American Society of Hematology 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.

American Society of Hematology

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