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The Promoting Minorities in Hematology Presentations and Reception will showcase training and research opportunities geared toward increasing the diversity of scholars in the field of hematology. One of the many highlights of the event will be the scientific presentations from the 2019 ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program and ASH Minority Resident Hematology Award Program participants.

The reception will feature poster presentations by students participating in the minority research supplement programs sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and will also include the announcement of the 2019 ASH-Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (ASH-AMFDP) award winner. Representatives from NIH will be available to provide information about their training and research offerings.

The ASH-AMFDP award program is a partnership between ASH and the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Please join us this evening at the Hyatt Regency Orlando to hear the impressive research presentations and to learn more about these enriching opportunities. The event will conclude with a dinner and networking session. Read on to learn more about the two 2019 ASH-AMFDP winners.

Gabriela Hobbs, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine and the Leukemia Clinical Director at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Hobbs earned her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and her MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She completed fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Cancer Center before joining MGH. Dr. Hobbs’ current research focuses on improving transplant outcomes for patients with myelofibrosis (MF). Her work is based on a clinical trial of ruxolitinib before, during, and after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in patients with MF, and she remarked that as part of this study, she and her colleagues will perform comprehensive genetic testing on patients before and after transplantation. “We will learn about the prognostic significance of identifying genetic mutations after transplant and how this correlates with outcomes,” she said “We will also perform single-cell profiling on patient samples before and after transplant to gain deeper insights into the cellular architecture of the MF bone marrow, which cells carry disease-defining mutations, and to understand how this changes with transplant.”

Dr. Hobbs is enthusiastic about the potential of the ASH-AMFDP to help her expand her network and support her own goals, and also to be a resource to further the career aspirations of others. “As a clinical investigator conducting research in relatively rare diseases, collaborating with investigators is critical,” she stated. “Belonging to the ASH-AMFDP network will allow me to continue to build collaborative relationships to further my research, and will provide me with significant research support and mentorship, which will be critical in becoming an independent investigator.” It is also very much an opportunity for Dr. Hobbs to give back to the research community and become a guiding force for promoting diversity. “As a Mexican American, I hope that belonging to the ASH-AMFDP family will help me to mentor others,” she said. “I have been fortunate to have amazing mentorship in my career, and I aspire to help other young investigators and bring more diversity to academic medicine.”

Dr. Hobbs recalled her excitement after learning that she had been selected for the ASH-AMFDP and looks forward to using the opportunity as a springboard to establish her career and advance her research in myeloproliferative neoplasms. “I received a small envelope in the mail from the ASH-AMFDP and was taken back to when I was waiting for college admission letters,” she said. “I started jumping up and down with joy … my young children (ages 2 and 4) started jumping and celebrating with me as well, unaware of why their mother had suddenly gone mad.”

It is an understandable reaction, especially considering that Dr. Hobbs had long hoped to earn the award someday. “The ASH-AMFDP is a merger of two things I care about a lot,” she began, “pursuing an academic career and helping to increase diversity in medicine. I am thrilled and honored to have been selected.”

Oluwatoyosi A. Onwuemene, MD, MS, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Onwuemene earned her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan College and her MD from Duke University School of Medicine. She holds an MS in clinical investigation from Northwestern University, where she also completed her hematology-oncology fellowship and cultivated her interest in hemostasis and thrombosis. Dr. Onwuemene’s current research focus is in applications of therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) in heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). “Currently, TPE for HIT is recommended by ASH guidelines, but consensus protocols are not established,” she said. “The AMFDP award will help me become a leader in this space as I develop apheresis-specific and patient-centered outcomes measures that will support future TPE in HIT clinical trials.”

In addition to her selection for the ASH-AMFDP award, Dr. Onwuemene also serves as an ASH Ambassador (www.hematology.org/Educators/7706.aspx) and has previously participated in the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute (www.hematology.org/CRTI). Like many awardees, she was surprised to learn she had been chosen, and was perhaps slightly thrown off by the envelope. “Frankly, I was shocked. Following the interview, I assumed the worst when I didn’t hear back for a few weeks,” she remembered. “When I finally received the notification by mail, the envelope was slim (bulky usually equals good news), so I braced myself for rejection.” When she saw that that was definitely not the case, Dr. Onwuemene shared that she was “thoroughly surprised and very appreciative.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Onwuemene commented that her ASH-AMDFP award represents a major investment in therapeutic apheresis research. “I am excited about the possibilities,” she said. “Once we better define measures of successful apheresis outcomes, we can begin to establish uniform protocols that can be tested in multicenter trials.”

Please join ASH in congratulating Drs. Hobbs and Onwuemene this Saturday evening, and learn more about ASH-AMFDP at www.hematology.org/Awards/Career-Training/406.aspx or www.amfdp.org.

Reception

ASH invites all interested meeting attendees to attend the reception at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, December 7, at the Hyatt Regency Orlando (Plaza International I/J and Orlando Ballroom LMN – map it).

 

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