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ASH Congratulates the Winners of the 2023 Minority Recruitment Initiative Awards

December 10, 2023

This year marks the 20th anniversary of ASH’s Minority Recruitment Initaitive, a multi-pronged program aimed at increasing both the participation of underrepresented minorities training in hematology-related fields and the number of minority hematologists with academic and research appointments.  

A robust portfolio of awards — for minority residents, graduate students, and fellows — is a vital component of the overall initiative. Collectively, the awards form a continuum of opportunities that can include research and travel stipends, guidance from career and research mentors, and complementary access to ASH publications. Perhaps most significantly, each award provides experiences that support and encourage participants through every step of their career paths. 

Please join ASH in congratulating all of this year’s participants and winners. And visit for more information about each award. 



For more than 16 years, the Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP) has provided under-represented minority medical students with an opportunity to engage in an eight-to-12-week hematology-related research project under the guidance of ASH member mentors. This year 10 students from the United States and Canada enrolled in DO, MD, or Md/PhD programs, participated in the Summer Research Experience, Flexible Research experience, or Yearlong Research Experience. 


Sacha Belinda Mapombo Choupa (ASH-Allistair Abraham MRI Award Recipient) -- Meharry Medical College; Venous Thromboembolism and Pulmonary Embolism in Pregnant People with Sickle Cell Disease: A Retrospective, Multinational Study 

Research Mentor: Lydia Pecker, MD; Career Development Mentor: Margo Rollins, MD 

Josue Marquez-Garcia -- Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Association of Circulating Protein Disulfide Isomerase Levels with Risk of Thrombosis in Patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms 

Research Mentor: Robert Flaumenhaft, MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Omar Abdel Wahab, MD 

Yaa Ofori-Marfoh -- Rush Medical College at Rush University; Experiences of Menopause in Post-Menarchal Women with Sickle Cell Disease 

Research Mentor: Charity Oyedeji MD; Career Development Mentor: Olatoyosi Odenike, MD 


Emily Franco -- Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Neurocognitive and Psychological Assessment of Children and Adults with Sickle Cell Disease 

Research Mentor: Patrick McGann, MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Andrew Campbell, MD 

Osariemen Ogiamien -- University of California Riverside Science Library; Neighborhood Socioeconomic/Environmental Disadvantage and Health Outcomes After a llogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation 

Research Mentor: Saro Armenian, DO, MPH; Career Development Mentor: Alex Herrera, MD 

Elizabeth Rodriguez -- UTHealth McGovern Medical School; Investigating the Impact of Neighborhood Deprivation Level on Late-Term Outcomes in Adolescent and Young Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivors 

Research Mentor: Michelle Hildebrandt, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Nader El-Mallawany, MD 

Andres Rubio -- Paul L. Foster School of Medicine; A Role for PSMD3 in Regulating Oxidative Energy Metabolism in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) 

Research Mentor: Anna Eiring, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Rachel Rau, MD 

Margarita Vazquez Almonte -- Upstate Medical University; Parenthood While in Hematology: Perceived Barriers 

Research Mentor: Henny Billett, MD; Career Development Mentor: Leon Bernal-Mizrachi, MD 


John Roy Lozada -- University of Minnesota; Functional Genomics Approach To Identify Novel Checkpoints of Natural Killer Cell Antitumor Functions 

Research Mentor: Jeffrey Miller, MD; Career Development Mentor: Satiro De Oliveira, MD 

Sofia Luna -- Stanford University; Engineering Hematopoietic Stem Cells for Sustained Delivery of Therapeutic Antibodies in B Cell Progeny 

Research Mentor: Matthew Porteus, MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Melody Smith, MD, MS 


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


Bria Carrithers, MD -- University of Alabama at Birmingham; Addressing Reproductive Education Among Young Adults with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD): Sickle Cell Reproductive Outreach and Education (ROE) Project 

Research Mentor: Julie Kanter, MD; Career Development Mentor: Titilope Fasipe, MD, PhD 

Ashley Crosby, MD -- Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center; Monocyte Distribution Width as a Marker of Immune Activation in Patients with New Red Cell Alloantibodies 

Research Mentor: Oluwatoyosi Onwuemene, MD; Career Development Mentor: Sandrine Niyongere, MD 

Ayo Falade, MD, MBA -- Mass General Brigham Salem Hospital; Efficacy of Brentuximab Vedotin Maintenance Therapy Following Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma with and without Pre-Transplant Exposure to Novel Agents 

Research Mentor: Reid Merryman, MD; Career Development Mentor: Tycel Philipps, MD 

Ayotola Fatola, MBBS, MSc -- John Hopkins University; Evaluating the Role of Voxelotor and Percent Modified Hemoglobin (Hemoglobin X) on Laboratory and Clinical Responses in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease 

Research Mentor: Rakhi P Naik, MD; Career Development Mentor: Deepika Darbari, MD 

Maria Jose Fernandez Turizo, MD -- Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center at Harvard; Incorporation of Machine Learning Tools to Predict Survival and Global Outcomes for Patients with Relapsed and Refractory Peripheral T-cell Lymphomas and NK/T-cell Lymphomas 

Research Mentor: Salvia Jain, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Gabriela S. Hobbs, MD 

Daniel Goyco Vera, MD -- Baylor College of Medicine; CAR-T Outcomes in an Academic Institution and a Look Ahead into the Role of the Gut Microbiome 

Research Mentor: Premal Lulla, MD, MBBS; Career Development Mentor: May Daher, MD 

Catherine Gutierrez, MD, PhD -- Massachusetts General Hospital; Assessing Primary Stroke Prevention Barriers and Facilitators in Children with Sickle Cell Anemia in Puerto Rico: A Mixed-Methods Study Design 

Research Mentor: Timothy Graubert, MD; Career Development Mentor: Gerardo Colon-Otero, MD 

Nosakhare Ilerhunmwuwa, MBBS, MSc -- One Brooklyn Health / Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center; Predictors of Severity and Outcomes of COVID-19 Infection in a Cohort of Patients with Sickle Cell Disease: An Institutional Experience 

Research Mentor: Jen-Chin Wang, MD; Career Development Mentor: Laura De Castro, MD, MSc 

Elyse Lopez, MD -- Baylor College of Medicine; Health Disparities in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL): A Focus on Adolescent and Young (AYA) Adult Patients and Temporal Trends Over Ten Years 

Research Mentor: Sara Taveras Alam, MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Rayne Rouce, MD 

Omolegho Momoh, MD -- Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital; Defining the Clinical Outcomes and Molecular Landscape of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in Nigeria 

Research Mentor: Monica Guzman, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Alison Walker, MD 

Olisaemeka Ogbue, MBBS -- Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital; Incidence of Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential (CHIP) in Patients Experiencing Infections Related Leukocytosis 

Research Mentor: Jaroslaw Maciejewski, MD, PhD; Career Development Mentor: Yvonne Efebera, MD 

Emmanuella Oyogoa, DO -- Oregon Health & Science University; Clinical Outcomes of Patients Referred for Asymptomatic Neutropenia: A Focus on Racial Disparities in Hematology 

Research Mentor: Joseph Shatzel, MD; Career Development Mentor: Eneida Nemecek, MD 

Gabriela Ramirez Cuebas, MD -- University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine; Assessing Primary Stroke Prevention Barriers and Facilitators in Children with Sickle Cell Anemia in Puerto Rico: A Mixed-Methods Study Design 

Research Mentor: Michael DeBaun, MD, MPH; Career Development Mentor: Shaniqua Johnson Anum, MD 


Now in its fourth cohort, the Minority Hematology Graduate Award (MHGA) encourages graduate students pursuing a PhD from historically underrepresented minority groups in the United States and Canada to choose a career in academic hematology. The award provides funding for students to conduct hematology-focused research. It is open to students in their first, second, or third year of graduate school at the time of application.  


Nicole Arellano -- The University of Chicago; Investigating Lipid Metabolism in Type 2 Calreticulin-Mutant Myeloproliferative Neoplasms 

Mentor: Shannon Elf, PhD  

Dejah Blake -- EMORY UNIVERSITY; Optimizing BCMA-Targeting CAR T Cells To Improve Anti-Tumor Activity in Multiple Myeloma 

Mentor: Sarwish Rafiq, PhD  

Claudia Cabrera -- The Washington University; Targeting Nonsense-Mediated RNA Decay in Splicing Factor Mutant Malignancies. 

Mentor: Matthew Walter, MD 

Veronica Canarte -- Emory University; Characterization of Novel Factors That Contribute to Myeloma Cell Survival 

Mentor: Lawrence Boise, PhD 

Alejandro De Janon, MSc, Bpharm -- Georgia Insitute of Technology; Development of an Ex Vivo 3D Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Bone Marrow Organoid for the Study of the Tumor Microenvironment, Metabolism and Precision Therapy 

Mentor: Nicki Panoskaltsis, MD, PhD 

Omar Ibrahim -- The Washington University; Characterization and Development of CART Therapy Directed Against CD180, AML Specific Antigen 

Mentor: John DiPersio, MD 

NaShea Kendrick -- Case Western Reserve University; Neutrophil Proteases Bias Signaling in Protease Activated Receptor 4 

Mentor: Marvin Nieman, PhD 

Ariel Leyte-Vidal -- University of Miami; Identification and Characterization of Novel Asciminib-Resistant Kinase Domain Mutations in BCR-ABL1 

Mentor: Neil Shah, MD, PhD 

Olivia Parker -- Rutgers University; Immune-Mediated Thrombosis: Understanding the Innate Immune System’s Role in Thrombosis and Resistance to Lysis 

Mentor: Valerie Tutwiler, PhD 


The Minority Hematology Fellow Award (MHFA) succceeds MRHAP in the pathway and precedes the ASH-Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (AMFDP). It encourages early-career researchers (MD/DO, PhD, and MD/DO-PhD) from historically underrepresented minority gropus in the United States and Canada to pursue a career in academic hematology , and it provides salary support as well as funs to support hematology-focused research projects. MHFA is designed to retain fellow in hematology. 


Helen Ajufo, MD, MS -- MSK; Identification of Prognostic Factors in Allogenic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Outcomes  in Patients with Myelofibrosis 

Mentor: Raajit Rampal, MD, PhD 

Adekunle Alagbe, MD, PhD -- University Health Center of Pittsburgh Foundation; Interleukin-27 in Acute Chest Syndrome in Sickle Cell Disease 

Mentor: Prithu Sundd, PhD  

Alexandria Broadnax, MD -- University of Alabama At Birmingham; Determining the Impact of Food Insecurity on Chronic Kidney Disease in Sickle Cell Disease 

Mentor: Jeffrey Lebensburger, DO  

Virginia Camacho, PhD -- Harvard Medical School; Effects of Age-Associated Somatic Mutations on Megakaryopoiesis and Platelet Immunodulatory Functions 

Mentor: Kellie Machlus, PhD 

Rigoberto De Jesus Pizarro, MD -- The Washington University; A Prospective Study of Whole Genome Sequencing (ChromoSeq) as an Adjunct to Conventional Genomic Profiling in MDS 

Mentor: Meagan Jacoby, MD 

Mwanasha Merrill, MD -- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Inc.; A Liquid Biopsy Panel to Diagnose and Subtype Lymphoma 

Mentor: Mark Murakami, MD 

Edward Owusu Kwarteng, PhD (ASH-CIBMTR-ASTCT Career Development Award recipient) -- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; What Do Stem Cells Eat? Genetic and Biochemical Dissection of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Metabolism 

Mentor: Michalis Agathocleous, PhD 

Jessica Stempel, MD -- Yale University; Use of Metformin and Outcomes in Older Patients with Classical Myeloproliferative Neoplasms 

Mentor: Nikolai Podoltsev, MD, PhD 

Zanshe Thompson, PhD -- Johns Hopkins University; HMGA1 Chromatin Regulators in Clonal Hematopoiesis and Cardiovascular Disease 

Mentor: Linda Resar, MD 


This award is a partnership between ASH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (AMFDP). The award seeks to increase the number of underrepresented minority hematology scholars in academic medicine. ASH has committed to funding at least one hematology scholar per year provided the AMFDP identifies a hematology scholar in their fundable range. This is the eleventh year this award is being offered. 

2022 WINNERS (award program began on July 1, 2023) 

Hermioni L. Amonoo, MD 

Brigham and Women’s Hospital 

Pavel Davizon-Castillo, MD 

Bloodworks Research Institute 


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