2017 ASH-AMFDP Scholars to Study Basic Insights in Blood Cancer Development


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Justin Taylor, MD

Justin Taylor, MD

Roger Belizaire, MD, PhD

Roger Belizaire, MD, PhD

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) announced that Justin Taylor, MD, and Roger Belizaire, MD, PhD, have been selected to participate in the American Society of Hematology–Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (ASH-AMFDP).

Designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority scholars in the field of hematology with academic and research appointments, the ASH-AMFDP provides 4-year research awards, including an annual stipend of up to $75,000 and an annual research grant of $30,000, for a total of $420,000 over the course of the program. Drs. Taylor and Belizaire will spend at least 70% of their ASH-AMFDP–funded research under the mentorship of senior faculty at their respective institutions.

Drs. Taylor and Belizaire will study biologic and mechanistic effects of genetic mutation, which could potentially be harnessed as therapeutic targets for hematologic malignancies. They will begin their projects in July 2017.

The ASH-AMFDP program is a component of the ASH Minority Recruitment Initiative, which is dedicated to encouraging diversity in the field of hematology. This initiative is supported by the ASH Foundation.

Focus of Research

Dr. Taylor’s research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms and consequences of alterations to XPO1, a protein thought to drive a broad array of blood cancers and other malignancies. He will engineer XPO1 mutations into human cells and mouse embryonic cells to generate stable cell lines and genetically engineered mouse models in an attempt to recapitulate the biology of E571K, a common mutation of XPO1. Dr. Taylor and his team will observe changes in these models and aim to determine how they might be linked to cancer development. Dr. Taylor currently serves as a medical oncology fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

Dr. Belizaire’s project focuses on CBL, a cell-signaling protein that drives cell proliferation and myeloid differentiation and is mutated in myeloid malignancies. Although it is known that CBL mutations lead to increased cell proliferation, the precise mechanisms of action remain unclear. Dr. Belizaire will conduct several in vitro and mouse model studies aiming to characterize the proteins and pathways affected by loss of CBL activity. Altogether, this work will seek to identify new therapeutic targets in CBL-mutated myeloid malignancies. Dr. Belizaire is Associate Pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Instructor in Pathology at Harvard Medical School.

The ASH-AMFDP is strengthening the hematology workforce by attracting underrepresented minorities to the field and providing support and stability….
— Kenneth C. Anderson, MD

“I’m proud that ASH will support Drs. Taylor and Belizaire in their work, which may lead to novel, more effective, and well-tolerated targeted therapies,” said 2017 ASH President Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, of the Lebow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics and Jerome Lipper Myeloma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “The ASH-AMFDP is strengthening the hematology workforce by attracting underrepresented minorities to the field and providing support and stability, so recipients can focus on the work that will enhance their careers in hematology.” ■



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