Each year, ASH recognizes excellence at the annual meeting by conferring travel awards to authors of select, top-ranking abstracts. Three of these awards also honor and memorialize the legacy of notable individuals through gifts that make the awards possible. These include the Joanne Levy, MD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement, the Mary Rodes Gibson Memorial Award in Hemostasis and Thrombosis, and the ASH-Frank Toohey Abstract Achievement Award for Myelodysplastic Syndromes. Read on to learn more about the awards and about this year’s winners. Learn more about ASH award programs, including abstract achievement awards, at www.hematology.org/awards.
ASH Scholar Awardee Aaron Viny, MD, MS, Receives Joanne Levy Memorial Award
Dr. Aaron Viny of Columbia University was presented with the 2022 Joanne Levy, MD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement. This award is presented to the ASH Scholar Award recipient with the highest-scoring abstract at the ASH annual meeting, as determined by the appointed abstract reviewers. It honors the memory and legacy of Dr. Joanne Levy, who passed away in 2004. Dr. Levy was a past ASH Scholar Award recipient and a respected ASH member. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and went on to receive many esteemed awards and honors, including the ASH Junior Faculty Scholar Award in 2000. The Joanne Levy Memorial Award is made possible by the Levy family to continue her legacy and promote excellence in hematology research.
Dr. Viny is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physician & Surgeons and assistant professor of genetics and development at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. He is a laboratory-based physician-scientist focusing on the study of clonal hematopoiesis, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dr. Viny completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and received his MD at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Following internal medicine residency at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College, he completed his fellowship in hematology/medical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Ross L. Levine. During fellowship, he investigated the molecular mechanism of cohesin complex member loss of function in hematopoiesis. His work demonstrated a cohesin “dosage dependency” credentialing cohesin components as bona fide tumor suppressors that alter transcriptional control rather than inducing aneuploidy in MDS and AML. His studies found that mutations in STAG2 led to altered DNA topology and that alterations in chromatin organization led to critical changes in transcriptional regulation, independent of transcription factor gene regulatory control, which contribute to leukemogenesis.
Dr. Viny expressed his gratitude at receiving this award. “It’s an incredible honor to receive the Dr. Joanne Levy, MD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement from ASH,” he said. “I hope that our work will honor her memory and carry forward scientific advances in our field.”
Dr. Viny and colleagues’ oral abstract 284, titled “Dysplastic Erythropoiesis in Stag2 Loss Exhibits Defective Nuclear Condensation and Hemophagocytosis,” (101. Red Cells and Erythropoiesis, Excluding Iron I) was presented by Dr. Varun S. Sudunagunta on Saturday, December 10, at 4:15 p.m. Central time, in Room 391-392 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (available on demand).
Mary Rodes Gibson Memorial Award Recognizes Sean Quinn, PhD, for Outstanding Trainee Abstract
Sean Quinn, PhD, of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has been presented with the 2022 Mary Rodes Gibson Memorial Award in Hemostasis and Thrombosis. This honor, which is part of the Outstanding Abstract Achievement Award program, is granted to a trainee who is the first author and presenter of the highest-scoring abstract submitted in the field of hemostasis and thrombosis. It is made possible by the Mary Rodes Gibson Hemostasis-Thrombosis Foundation to continue the legacy of Mary Rodes Gibson, who lived with severe, type 3 von Willebrand disease.
Dr. Quinn was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when he began the work currently being presented, and was instantly fascinated. “This project allowed me to evaluate not only the biochemical/biophysical properties of an antibody targeting human factor V [FV], but also how this antibody rebalances the coagulation system and its effect in hemophilia,” he said. “The fact that the antibody had such a noticeable effect on coagulation and reduced bleeding in hemophilia excited me.”
In addition to feeling personally honored by the award, Dr. Quinn acknowledged the broader implications of being recognized. “The fact that our work has such a high impact in the research community is rewarding,” he said. “This award was a significant achievement for our group,” mentioning his team’s focus on better understanding the role of FV in the coagulation system using basic science, “and importantly, to understand the translational implications from this research,” he stated. “Receiving this award demonstrates that through the techniques we use, we have made significant progress in our work.”
Dr. Quinn presented the abstract titled “An Antibody Targeting Human FV Promotes Thrombin Generation and Reduces Bleeding in a Hemophilic Mouse Model” (abstract 397) on Monday evening (available on demand) during the Special Symposium on the Basic Science of Hemostasis and Thrombosis.
Sofia Toribio Castello, MSc, Receives the Inaugural ASH-Frank Toohey Abstract Achievement Award for Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Sofia Toribio Castello of the Universidad de Salamanca has been presented with the 2022 ASH-Frank Toohey Abstract Achievement Award for Myelodysplastic Syndromes. The award honors the legacy of John Francis (Frank) Toohey, a longtime public servant who passed away from MDS in 2019, and acknowledges the highest-scoring abstract submitted in the area of MDS in older adult populations.
Ms. Toribio Castello is currently a PhD student at the Centro de Investigación del Cáncer (IBMCC-FICUS) in Salamanca. She began working on her current project one year ago, with the goal of analyzing the long-term safety of patients receiving lenalidomide, while prioritizing patient wellbeing and offering new early therapeutic strategies to improve quality of life. She is especially grateful for the “outstanding and comprehensive” collaborative work of the Sintra-Rev trial. “This trial reveals the importance of extensive follow-up of patients,” she said.
Upon learning she was being awarded, Ms. Toribio Castello was in disbelief. “My first reaction was to call my family," she stated, “and to thank my supervisors for giving me the opportunity to develop this work. [It was] without a doubt, a moment that I will never forget.” Ms. Toribio Castello acknowledged the challenging journey that is earning a PhD, noting the many professional and personal difficulties involved, but she also recognizes that they can be overcome with the support of one’s colleagues. “You have to learn to get up and move on,” she remarked, underscoring the essential support and confidence of Dr. María Díez Campelo (principal investigator of Sintra-Rev), as well as that of her colleague Félix Lopez-Cadenas. “This award, at a scientific level, represents a recognition of the relevance of the Sintra-Rev clinical trial, as well as the entire team involved for their great work,” she said. “More importantly, it has reminded me of the importance of surrounding yourself with a good team, rowing together in the same direction,” she said in closing. “Every effort has its reward.”
Ms. Toribio Castello presented the abstract “Long-Term Evolution of Somatic Mutations in Patients with Del(5q) MDS Early Treated with Lenalidomide in the Sintra-Rev Clinical Trial: Safe and Effective Approach?” during session 636, Myelodysplastic Syndromes—Basic and Translational: Poster III, on (available on demand).