From left to right: Dr. Louis DeGennaro, LLS President & CEO; Dr. Stephen Ansell, LLS Excellence in Scientific Service recipient; Dr. Gwen Nichols, LLS Chief Medical Officer; Dr. Lee Greenberger, LLS Chief Scientific Officer
Wednesday, December 14, 2022 – The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recognized and celebrated the outstanding contributions of six LLS-funded scientific investigators for their achievements in helping drive forward its lifesaving mission.
Recipients were honored at the Inaugural LLS Research Awards & Networking Event on Sunday, December 10, in New Orleans while the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting was in full swing. LLS recognized two long-time esteemed members of the scientific community with the first-ever “LLS Excellence in Scientific Service” award, and four young innovators who will change the face of blood cancer research for decades to come with the “Career Development Achievement Award.”
LLS Excellence in Scientific Service Award
This inaugural award recognizes two outstanding LLS scientific advisors who have made exceptional contributions to blood cancer research over the past decade. Both recipients volunteered countless service hours to enhance LLS’s ability to fund the brightest scientists and most innovative biotech companies. This included serving on several grant review panels and as members of LLS’s Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP) and Medical & Scientific Committees. As key opinion leaders, they provide ongoing counsel to LLS and external expert reviews for TAP.
This year’s winners are:
Stephen M. Ansell, MD, PhD, the Dorotha W. and Grant L. Sundquist Professor in Hematologic Malignancies Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Ansell’s research is focused on understanding the biology of B-cell malignancies and to explore the role of the tumor microenvironment in supporting cancer cell growth and survival. The goal of his program is to translate this knowledge into new treatment approaches for patients. His research has contributed to the use of immune checkpoint therapy in lymphomas. He led the clinical trial that resulted in the approval of nivolumab for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Ron Levy, MD, the Robert K. Summy and Helen K. Summy Professor of Medicine and Director of the Lymphoma Program at Stanford University School of Medicine. For more than 25 years his research has focused on monoclonal antibodies and the study of malignant lymphoma. He was the first to successfully treat cancer with a monoclonal antibody and went on to help develop rituximab. Dr. Levy is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
"LLS has impacted the lives of countless patients with hematological malignancies and has also impacted the clinicians and researchers who are working in this field. As a physician-scientist who both treats patients and does research, I have seen this firsthand. Many patients that I treat have profoundly benefited from the educational material provided by the LLS and by the financial support they provide to help with logistics associated with patient care,” said Ansell.
“Personally, I have benefited from LLS research support that has allowed me to investigate the tumor microenvironment associated with hematological malignancies to identify cells and proteins that can be targeted therapeutically,” Ansell continued. “I am therefore deeply grateful to the LLS for the outstanding work they do and for the difference they are making in the lives of not only patients, but caregivers, providers and scientists as well.”
From left to right: Dr. Louis DeGennaro, LLS President & CEO; Dr. Noha Sharafeldin, CDP Achievement Award recipient; Dr. Brandon Aubrey, CDP Achievement Award recipient; Dr. Gwen Nichols, LLS Chief Medical Officer; Dr. Lee Greenberger, LLS Chief Scientific Officer
Career Development Program (CDP) Achievement Awards
Instituted in 2019, these awards acknowledge the most impressive CDP grantees in the final year of their funding (LLS’s CDP grants provide 2-5 years of funding). Awardees are recognized in each of the four subcategories – Scholar, Scholar in Clinical Research, Special Fellow, and Fellow. Honorees published significant findings and are on a clear trajectory to become the next generation of leaders in blood cancer science.
“We strongly believe that providing support to today's promising early-career scientists is fundamental to making sure that they will continue contributing to blood cancer research as tomorrow's leaders of the field,” said Gwen Nichols, LLS Chief Medical Officer.
This year’s winners are:
- 2022 LLS-CDP Fellow Achievement Awardee is Dr. Brandon Aubrey. He received his CDP Fellow grant for his studies on transcriptional deregulation in AML in Dr. Scott Armstrong’s lab at Dana-Farber. He is currently a resident physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a Clinical Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- 2022 LLS-CDP Special Fellow Achievement Awardee is Dr. Noha Sharafeldin. She received her Special Fellow Award for her studies on reducing the long-term cognitive effects of allogeneic bone marrow transplant on blood cancer survivors under the mentorship of Dr. Smita Bhatia at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She is now an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology & Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship, and O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- 2022 LLS-CDP Scholar Achievement Awardee is Dr. Jianjun Chen. He is an internationally renowned pioneer and leader in the field of RNA Cancer Epigenetics (or Epitranscriptomics). He has been focusing on understanding the functions and underlying molecular mechanisms of RNA modification, especially N6-methyladenosine modification, in normal development and tumorigenesis (particularly, leukemogenesis). He is currently the Professor & Chair of the Department of Systems Biology and the Simms/Mann Family Foundation Chair in Systems Biology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope.
- 2022 LLS-CDP Clinical Scholar Achievement Awardee is Dr. Saad Usmani. He is an international leader in clinical and translational myeloma research. He has led several Phase I-III trials using both IV and subQ administration of the first active monoclonal antibody daratumumab for multiple myeloma. The work has led to the approval of this drug as monotherapy as well as in combination for patients with newly diagnosed, early relapsed and late relapsed disease. He is currently participating in the clinical development of the next generation of drug classes and immunotherapies in high-risk multiple myeloma, and he now serves as the Chief of Myeloma Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“Our Career Development Program was implemented about 70 years ago to support researchers early and at different stages of their career,” said Dr. Nichols. "Over the years our CDP grantees have become prominent scientists, leaders in academia and industry, and have brought forward some of the most important breakthroughs for our patients."
LLS plans to host the Research Awards & Networking Event annually timed to the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has regions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
LLS is one of Fast Company's "2022 Brands That Matter." As the only cancer organization on the list, LLS stands out among brands around the world for its relevancy, cultural impact, ingenuity, and mission impact.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society