The ASH Research Training Award for Fellows (RTAF) is an award open to both MD and MD-PhD researchers between their second and fifth year of fellowship. The program is designed to encourage junior researchers in hematology, hematology/oncology, and other hematology-related programs to pursue careers in academic hematology. RTAF provides each recipient with $70,000 for a one-year period to guarantee protected time for clinical, basic, or translational research.

Nicole Cruz, MD, is a third-year hematology/ oncology fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College – New York Presbyterian Hospital (WCM-NYP). Her translational research focuses on myeloproliferative neoplasms and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), particularly the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of AML. Dr. Cruz is also interested in researching minimal/measurable residual disease detection techniques in AML and the impact on patient outcomes. In order to establish herself as an independent translational researcher, Dr. Cruz expressed the need for protected time to conduct her research. “RTAF was the perfect award for me.”

Additionally, she finds that RTAF helps shape a trainee’s career by providing essential networking opportunities within the ASH community. “This award is important because it represents the steppingstone to a pipeline of awards within the ASH family,” she emphasized.

“Receiving the RTAF is definitely career changing,” stressed Dr. Cruz. Upon receiving the award, her mentors Monica Guzman, PhD, and Gail Roboz, MD, from WCM-NYP, shared the news on social media, which Dr. Cruz said really helped get her name out there. She was also invited to stay on as an instructor after finishing her fellowship, stating, “My institution acknowledged that I am serious and dedicated to a career in research.”

In 2016, Dr. Cruz attended a networking breakfast at the ASH annual meeting after receiving the ASH HONORS award, and there she met an ASH Trainee Council member who recommended she apply for RTAF. Last year, she met Rayne Rouce, MD, at another ASH networking event, and received the same suggestion. Now she does the same for trainees with an interest in research. “RTAF is so much more than salary support for protected research time. I am just beginning to learn of all the hidden benefits that come with the award, such as potential collaborations, recognition, networking, and job opportunities. And I know it doesn’t stop there,” said Dr. Cruz.

Learn More

For additional information about RTAF, including application requirements and key dates, visit Training/435.aspx. Submit your application by January 2020.


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