Minneapolis -- March 11, 2009
(left to right): Christine Fleming, The Marrow Foundation President; Stefanie Sarantopoulos, M.D., Ph.D. (2009 Scholar), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Dennis Confer, M.D., NMDP Chief Medical Officer.
The Marrow Foundation® and the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) have named Dr. Stefanie Sarantopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass. the newest Scholar in the Amy Strelzer Manasevit (ASM) Research Program for the Study of Post-Transplant Complications. This young scientist was selected based on her research proposal that sets out to target a treatment for marrow transplant patients whose bodies attack their new donor cells.
The ASM Research Program was established in 1997 to honor the memory of Amy Strelzer Manasevit. A vibrant young mother of two, Amy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1993. After receiving a successful marrow transplant, she succumbed to pneumonia and passed away six weeks after returning home. Manasevit's family and friends partnered with The Marrow Foundation and the National Marrow Donor Program to establish the ASM Research Program in the hope they could prevent other families from losing their loved ones.
The ASM Research Program targets scientists and clinicians early in their careers, launching a life-long journey to map new territory and shed light on post-transplant complications such as infection, compromised immunity, GVHD, cataracts, hypothyroidism, secondary cancers and other potentially lethal complications. The emphasis on early support encourages these researchers to continue their research throughout their careers.
Today, the ASM Research Program bestows one of the largest and most coveted fellowships in the field. ASM Scholars receive a maximum of $240,000 in support over three years to conduct research that addresses issues arising after stem cell transplantation. Dr. Sarantopoulos' research proposal is entitled: The BCR-activated B cell: a novel therapeutic target in chronic GVHD. The program is instrumental in improving transplant outcomes for patients suffering from cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, genetic disorders, immune deficiencies, and over 70 other blood diseases. To date, The Marrow Foundation has supported 18 Scholars and 13 post-doctoral fellows.
"While the survival rate for marrow and cord blood transplant patients has improved, post-transplant complications continue to significantly impact mortality and quality of life for survivors," said Dr. Dennis Confer, NMDP chief medical officer. "The ASM Research Program has provided over $5.25 million to support these young investigators."
Dr. Sarantopoulos is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and received her M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine in 1998. She completed her postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at Boston Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She joined the institute in 2001.
Sarantopoulos was awarded the fellowship on February 2009 at the Bone Marrow Transplant Tandem Meeting, the combined annual conference of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.
"The fellowship has launched numerous successful careers, with ASM Scholars going on to receive grants from the National Institutes of Health and other substantive awards to support their ongoing research," explained Dr. Jeffrey Chell, NMDP chief executive officer.
"We were pleased that so many members of the Strelzer and Manasevit families could join us for the announcement, including Marty and Florence Strelzer, Bruce and Maggie Manasevit, and Stanley and Carol Manasevit," said Christine Fleming, president of The Marrow Foundation. "It was a proud and touching moment for everyone."