February 01 2011
Be The Match Foundation® and the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) have named Sophie Paczesny, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Medical School as the newest Scholar in the Amy Strelzer Manasevit Research Program for the Study of Post-Transplant Complications. This young scientist was selected based on her research that sets out to develop testing to predict a patient’s risk of developing chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) as well as predict their responsiveness to treatment.
GVHD occurs when a transplant patient’s body attacks his or her new donor cells. This post-transplant complication occurs in 40 to 70 percent of patients and has a significant impact on mortality rates and the quality of life for survivors.
Dr. Paczesny’s research investigates biomarkers in the blood and tissue of marrow transplant patients to develop testing to predict a patient’s risk of developing GVHD and gain insights into the degree to which they may respond to different treatment options. The ability to identify patients at high risk early in their transplant and treatment course has important therapeutic value, including more stringent monitoring and/or preventative care. Furthermore, this analysis may also offer important insights into the biology of GVHD and identify novel pathways and proteins with potential as therapeutic targets.
The Amy 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 Be The Match Foundation and the NMDP to establish the research program in the hope they could prevent other families from losing their loved ones.
The Amy Research Program is one of the largest and most coveted fellowships in the field of transplantation, supporting the research endeavors of scientists and clinicians early in their careers. Its goal is to launch these young investigators on a life-long journey to discover solutions to potentially lethal post-transplant complications such as infection or graft-versus-host disease.
The emphasis on early support attracts new talent to the field and encourages the researchers to focus on these complications throughout their careers. Amy Scholars receive a maximum of $240,000 in support over three years. This crucial funding enables the researchers to continue with their projects consistently without having to stop and apply for further financial support. To date, Be The Match Foundation has supported 20 scholars and 13 post-doctoral fellows. The Amy Scholars were initially awarded more than $5 million and have leveraged their research to secure an additional $35 million in research funding.
Dr. Paczesny is an assistant professor of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program at the University of Michigan Medical School. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. from Paris University in France, where she completed her residency and fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation. She joined the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program at the University of Michigan in 2006 and leads the BMT Program’s GVHD biomarker discovery and validation research. She was recently awarded a National Institute of Health Challenge Grant.