March 15, 2012
The American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation® (ASBMT) is rallying the support of its membership and other stakeholders so that more patients can benefit from life-saving research.
Since 1997, Be The Match Foundation® and the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) have supported researchers working to eliminate potentially life-threatening complications through the Amy Strelzer Manasevit Research Program for the study of post-transplant complications (“The Amy Program”). Each year, a new Amy Scholar is named and awarded a $240,000 grant over three years. Given current funding levels, typically only one Amy Scholar is selected each year.
The ASBMT, an international professional association that promotes the advancement of the blood and marrow transplantation field, has partnered with the NMDP to raise funds for additional research fellowships within the Amy Program. Through this new partnership, the ASBMT hopes to raise $240,000 to support investigators and their promising research. By establishing a named fund, called The ASBMT Transplant Research Fund, ASBMT hopes to support one or more awards in the future that can be named for their organization.
Each year, thousands of patients diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases depend on a marrow or cord blood transplant for a second chance at life. Post-transplant complications continue to be a major challenge for these patients, and more research is needed to discover new treatment and prevention solutions.
“As Chair of the Amy Scholar review and selection committee, I can personally attest that each year there are several – often three or four proposals – that merit an award. Additional selections will accelerate the rate of discovery, and the findings will advance medical practice to benefit all of our patients. This is why ASBMT is committed to this effort,” said Daniel J. Weisdorf, M.D., chair of the Amy Program review and selection committee and immediate past-president of the ASBMT.
The Amy Program is one of the largest and most coveted fellowships in the field of transplantation. Its goal is to launch young investigators on a life-long journey to discover solutions to potentially lethal post-transplant complications such as infection or graft-versus-host disease. GVHD occurs when the newly transplanted donor cells recognize the patient’s own cells as foreign and attack them. It has a significant impact on mortality rates and the quality of life for survivors.
The emphasis on early support attracts new talent to the field and encourages researchers to focus on these complications throughout their careers. The substantial, multi-year award enables researchers to continue with their projects consistently without having to stop and apply for further financial support. To date, the NMDP has supported 21 Amy Scholars and 13 post-doctoral fellows. The Amy Scholars were initially awarded more than $5.5 million and have leveraged their research to secure an additional $36 million in research funding.
The Amy Program was established in 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 NMDP to establish the research program in the hope they could prevent other families from losing their loved ones.
The 2012 Amy Scholar is Dr. Xiao Chen of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Chen’s research focuses on graft-vs.-host disease that targets a patient’s gastrointestinal tract. It sets out to identify approaches to protect the gut from donor cell attack.
Dr. Xiao Chen is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Division of Hematology and Oncology. He obtained his medical degree from Fujian Medical University in China and his PhD degree in immunology from Technical University of Dresden in Germany. Dr. Chen came to the United States in 2001 and worked at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a post-doctorate fellow and research scientist prior to becoming an independent investigator in 2010. Since becoming a faculty member, Dr. Chen has begun developing an independent research career focused on the biology of graft-versus-host disease.
To contribute to The ASBMT Transplant Research Fund visit: http://www.BeTheMatchFoundation.org/asbmt