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10 Questions With … Cynthia E. Dunbar

December 10, 2023

ASH Secretary Cynthia E. Dunbar, MD, is the chief of the Translational Stem Cell Biology Branch and a distinguished NIH investigator within the Intramural Research Program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.  

1. If you were to compile a bucket list, what would top that list? 

I don’t really have a personal bucket list. I have been so lucky to experience more professional and other “bucket list” events than I could ever have dreamed of! Instead, all my current hopes and dreams center on solving all the current challenges in the world around us.  

2. What ASH luminary do you most admire? (Who’s your ASH-lebrity?)  

Mohandas Narla. He always brightens the day of every person he interacts with via ASH and in life. He is generous, smart, and thoughtful, and has impacted on the careers of so many.  

3. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?  

“Don’t waste time worrying about competition. Many people have ideas for the next step simultaneously. Just do the experiment correctly, and it will be impactful if you are working on important problems.” Art Nienhuis, my postdoctoral mentor. 

4. When I’m down, … brings me up 

Walking into my apartment and being greeted by Addis, the pit bull who is always happy to see me or going to a choir rehearsal and singing great music.  

5. What’s your one can’t-miss presentation or event at the ASH annual meeting?  

My lab reunion dinner — seeing prior trainees from all over the world, in one place, and catching up over drinks and dinner. 

6. What’s your hidden talent?  

Being super-efficient and quick with making decisions, allowing me, for instance, to deal with the almost 8,000 abstracts submitted to the annual meeting.  

7. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?  

Ripe tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil in season, preferably in Italy!  

8. What’s been your greatest success?  

The trajectories, scientific accomplishments, and happiness of the people I have trained. 

9. When starting my career, I wish I had known …   

How to say no!  

10. What’s your favorite CD or album?  

Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust.” I know I am dating myself but what a voice and life! 

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