David Nathan Presented with Coulter Award

December 14, 2011 – The American Society of Hematology (ASH) presented the 2011 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, the Society’s highest honor, to David G. Nathan, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston for his remarkable career combining outstanding teaching, pioneering research, and excellence in clinical care.

Beyond Dr. Nathan’s lasting influence on his trainees and patients, his research on the inherited disorders of red cells and granulocytes, particularly thalassemia, has had a profound impact on the field of hematology. CAF congratulates Dr. Nathan on this prestigious honor.

The presentation took place on December 11, during the 53rd annual meeting of ASH.

Throughout the course of his nearly 50-year career, Dr. Nathan, the President Emeritus of Dana-Farber, as well as the Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has made numerous advances in medicine, including his team’s development of the first prenatal diagnostic test for thalassemia and sickle cell anemia and the introduction of hydroxyurea (HU) for the amelioration of sickle cell anemia. In collaboration with his trainees, Dr. Nathan also developed the first successful treatment for iron overload, subcutaneous deferoxamine, for thalassemia patients undergoing chronic transfusion therapy. In addition to his research achievements Dr. Nathan has trained, supported, and mentored more than 100 hematologists, many of whom currently hold leadership positions in internal medicine and pediatrics.

“We are pleased to honor Dr. Nathan with this prestigious award for the depth and breadth of his contributions to hematology and his incredible commitment to mentorship, training, research, and clinical care,” said ASH President J. Evan Sadler, MD, PhD, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “During his distinguished career, Dr. Nathan has made important discoveries in thalassemia and other blood disorders, led two major academic institutions, promoted translational research in hematology, and trained an impressive number of the most outstanding hematologists and oncologists in the country.”

Dr. Nathan began his career after graduating from Harvard College in 1951 and from Harvard Medical School in 1955. He completed an internship and residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital) and was a clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute. From 1959 to 1966, Dr. Nathan was a hematologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and then became chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Dana-Farber. In 1985, he was named physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, a position he held until he was named president of Dana-Farber in 1995. He served as president of Dana-Farber until 2000.

As part of his career-long commitment to clinical research, Dr. Nathan chaired the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Panel on Clinical Research in 1997, which recommended new types of grants to support clinical researchers, made changes in the NIH study section process, established a loan forgiveness program for clinical investigators, and increased funding for clinical research. Dr. Nathan’s leadership on the panel led to beneficial changes for investigators at all career stages and in all research fields and advanced support for clinical research at the national level.

Dr. Nathan, who served as ASH President in 1986, is also a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Pediatric Society, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Nathan has written several books, including Hematology of Infancy and Childhood, Genes, Blood, and Courage, and The Cancer Treatment Revolution. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including ASH’s Henry M. Stratton Medal, the National Medal of Science, the Walker Prize of the Boston Museum of Science, the John Howland Medal of the American Pediatric Society, and the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians.

The Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology is the Society’s highest honor and is named for Wallace Henry Coulter, a prolific inventor and entrepreneur who made important contributions to hematology and to ASH. This award is bestowed on an individual who has demonstrated a lasting commitment to the field of hematology through outstanding contributions to education, research, and practice. Known for his development of the Coulter Principle, the most widely used method for counting and sizing microscopic particles suspended in a fluid, Mr. Coulter’s important innovations in diagnostic and investigative medicine and his impact on the discipline of hematology are remembered with the presentation of this award each year.

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