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During this year’s annual meeting, Toshio Suda, MD, PhD, of the National University of Singapore and Kumamoto University in Japan will be awarded the 2020 E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize in recognition of his outstanding contributions therapying the field of stem cell research. Dr. Suda’s 40 years of work has encompassed the purification of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), identification of cytokine signaling in hematopoiesis, and characterization of HSC niches in the bone marrow. A prolific researcher, Dr. Suda has provided new insights into molecular regulation of HSCs and improved the field’s understanding of the hematopoietic system. In light of these achievements, he has received numerous awards and prestigious appointments, including 15 years of service on the editorial board of Blood.

This lectureship and prize was established in 1992 and is named after the late Nobel Prize laureate and past president of ASH E. Donnall Thomas, MD. Each year, it recognizes pioneering research achievements in hematology that represent a paradigm shift or significant discovery in the field.

Dr. Suda’s fascination with stem cells began at the start of his career as a pediatric hematologist. “I was impressed with the effective outcomes of the bone marrow transplantation after chemotherapy  and radiation for patients with leukemia and lymphoma,” he said, and with that, he became motivated to solve what he has called “the mystery of hematopoietic stem cells.” In the years since, Dr. Suda has published more than 435 peer-reviewed papers, led groundbreaking discoveries such as identifying the metabolism in the hypoxic niche of bone marrow HSCs (Cell, 2004), and subsequently established the new field of oxidative stress in HSCs.

The foundation of so much of what hematologists know about molecular regulation of HSCs and the entire hematopoietic system is thanks to Dr. Suda’s insights over the years. His work has been at the forefront of defining the unique wiring that HSCs possess, as distinct from other cells within the blood hierarchy concerning DNA damage response and stress signaling. His findings also laid much of the groundwork for the science of cancer stem cells. Dr. Suda’s discoveries related to Tie2 and ATM were revolutionary for hematology and contributed to many other disciplines as well.

Dr. Suda has trained more than 100 graduate students in Japan, many of whom have gone on to become leading and respected researchers, professors, and principal investigators themselves. He credits his own mentors, in particular Makio Ogawa, MD, PhD, with helping him to maintain a keen focus on his research endeavors. “Professor Ogawa has taught me how to focus my interests on a few selected important questions. He said, ‘you should clarify what you really want to know,’” Dr. Suda stated.

Looking ahead, Dr. Suda is enthusiastic about the future of the field, citing the promise of HSC ex vivo expansion to address the small pool of HSC donors for reconstituting hematopoiesis. “My long-term research objective is to develop the ex vivo bone marrow ‘factory,’” Dr. Suda said. “The remaining big challenge is to unfold the detailed process of the HSC self-renewal process.”

Join your colleagues for Dr. Suda’s fascinating lecture titled Quiescence and Cell Metabolism in Hematopoietic Stem Cells taking place during this year’s annual meeting virtual experience. Check ASHNewsDaily.org for updates throughout the meeting.

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