Richard Aster, MD
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will recognize Richard Aster, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin in Milwaukee with the 2019 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology. Dr. Aster will be honored for his significant contributions to hematology through research, mentorship, and education throughout his 62-year career.
The Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, the Society’s highest honor, is named after the late Wallace Coulter, a prolific inventor and engineer. He is best known for developing the Coulter Principle, which revolutionized the use of basic blood tests to screen for disease by making it possible to count and size blood cells as they flow through an aperture.
This award commemorates Mr. Coulter’s innovative spirit, visionary leadership, and entrepreneurship, and is bestowed on an individual who has demonstrated lifetime achievement and leadership in education, research, mentoring, and practice. ASH President Roy Silverstein, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee will present this award to Dr. Aster on Sunday, December 8, during the 61st ASH Annual Meeting & Exposition in Orlando, Florida.
Dr. Aster is celebrated for his contributions to the understanding of immune diseases that affect blood cells, particularly those involving platelets. He has published over 390 peer-reviewed articles and reviews that focus on drug-induced thrombocytopenia and other hematologic conditions. Dr. Aster and his team developed techniques that have become clinical standards for the diagnosis of immune thrombocytopenia and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia/thrombosis.
More broadly, Dr. Aster’s work has led to improvements in the preparation and storage of platelets for transfusion, platelet matching for patients immunized against platelet antigens, and recruitment of unrelated bone marrow donors. His ongoing work continues to inspire investigators and inform clinicians. He has also mentored numerous trainees and junior faculty members.
Dr. Aster received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan. He pursued an internship and medical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and continued his training at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, where he discovered his interest in hematology.
Subsequently, at the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory at Boston City Hospital, he made the first of his many contributions to hematology when he analyzed the distribution of platelets in the spleen and blood circulation of patients with liver disease. Dr. Aster began working at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin in 1970, and since then has helped develop the center into a global reference laboratory, a renowned research institution, and helped set the stage for it to become a provider of blood services to the Midwest.
Dr. Aster has authored more than 50 papers in Blood, ASH’s flagship journal, as well as a dozen manuscripts in TheNew England Journal of Medicine. In 2012, he was the recipient of the prestigious Henry M. Stratton Medal from ASH, and he has received numerous accolades from the American Association of Blood Banks. ■