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ASH Lauds Winners of the 2021 Minority Resident Hematology Award Program

November 15, 2021

The goal of the Minority Resident Hematology Award Program (MRHAP) is to provide support for under-represented minority residents to conduct hematology-focused research with the intended outcome of increasing interest in hematology research and choice of fellowship. Now in its fourth cohort, this award program is intended to fill the gaps in the longitudinal pathway from medical student to hematologist by providing under-represented minority trainees with additional research opportunities and one-on-one interactions with both a research and career development mentor.

ASH congratulates seven MRHAP winners for 2021. This year’s spotlight is on Dr. Tolulope Ifabiyi, who shared a little about what inspired her to pursue a career in hematology and to explore the role that endothelial factors play in sickle cell disease crisis, and the potential correlation with aging.

Spotlight

Tolulope Ifabiyi, MD — University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University; Changes with Endothelial Dysfunction with Age in Patients with Sickle cell Disease; Research Mentor: Keith McCrae, MD; Career Development Mentor: Patrick McGann, MD

What first led you toward your specific research topic?

I cared for an adult patient with sickle cell disease who died from complications of fat embolism syndrome, which was sadly diagnosed postmortem. This piqued my interest into complications from sickle cell disease and the higher mortality and morbidity observed in older patients. Based on prior literature about the role that endothelial factors play in sickle cell crisis, I wanted to explore any potential correlation between levels of endothelial factors and age.

What about the field of hematology do you find most exciting right now?

As a pharmacology major in undergrad, I have always been interested in targeted therapeutics and the field of precision medicine, as this allows for more efficacious treatments with reduced adverse effects. I find that the recently approved therapeutics for sickle cell disease, such as the p-selectin binder crizanlizumab-tmca, represent an exciting new step in the field.

How have your research/career mentors influenced your work?

My mentors have encouraged me to pursue my passion in hematology and enlightened me regarding the different and unique paths one can take in this field. I am more open minded and willing to step outside my comfort zone to grow not only as a clinician but also as a researcher.

How has this award impacted you personally?

This award has helped reignite and fuel my passion to improve the overall management of sickle cell disease. My personal clinical experiences coupled with interactions with my mentors have given me foresight into the rapidly evolving world of hematology and the role that I can play in contributing to this field.

2021 Winners

Ugochukwu Agbakwuru, MD — Washington University School of Medicine; Safety and Tolerability of Lidocaine Infusion in Children Hospitalized with Sickle Cell Disease Pain; Research Mentor: Jorge Di Paola, MD; Career Development Mentor: John Dipersio, MD, PhD

Jennifer Gile, MD — Mayo Clinic; Hypomagnesemia in Hematologic Malignancies; Research Mentor: Thomas Witzig, MD; Career Development Mentor: Rahma Warsame, MD

Naima Hashi, MD — Mayo Clinic; Role of Donor Lymphocyte Infusions for Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukemia Post Transplant; Research Mentor: Mrinal Patnaik, MD, MBBS; Career Development Mentor: Alison Walker, MD

Alfonso Molina, MD — Stanford University; Epidemiologic Evaluation of Clinical Outcomes in Ethnic Minorities with Myelodysplastic Syndrome; Research Mentor: Peter Greenberg, MD; Career Development Mentor: Arturo Molina, MD

Tolulope Rosanwo, MD — Boston Children’s Hospital; Single-Cell Analyses of Therapeutic Gene Modification in Sickle Cell Disease; Research Mentor: Daniel Bauer MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Stanton Gerson, MD

Christopher Wanjiku, MD — Duke University Hospital; Prevalence of Dependence in Activities of Daily Living in Adults with Sickle Cell Disease and its Association with Disease Complications; Research Mentor: John Strouse, MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Marilyn Telen, MD

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