The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) is pleased to announce Vijay G. Sankaran, MD, PhD, as the recipient of the 2019 Donald Seldin~Holly Smith Award for Pioneering Research. Dr. Sankaran will receive an unrestricted award of $30,000 to advance his academic efforts, and he will be recognized on April 6, 2019, as part of the AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting (April 5-7). Dr. Sankaran will deliver a scientific talk at the 2020 Joint Meeting.
Dr. Sankaran’s research aims to understand blood cell production in health and disease. His work is focused on genetic variation that impacts this process of blood cell production. Of particular interest is how stem cells produce blood cells, how the hemoglobin genes are regulated during red blood cell production, and how disease alters these processes. From these insights, Dr. Sankaran hopes to develop improved therapies for blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative disorders, and childhood leukemia.
“Vijay has a profound fund of scientific knowledge, is very facile in the laboratory and unafraid to adopt novel technology. Of greatest relevance is his insatiable curiosity,” David G. Nathan, MD, wrote in support of Dr. Sankaran’s application. “I might add that Vijay regularly supervises clinics, attends on the service and teaches genetics and hematology to Harvard’s Health Sciences and Technology students. That complex life is what Don Seldin and Holly Smith were all about.”
Dr. Sankaran earned his MD and PhD degrees from Harvard Medical School. He subsequently did a residency in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He has been an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School since 2014 and an Attending Physician in Hematology/Oncology since 2015 at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His research has been supported in part by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. He was elected to the ASCI in 2018.
Dr. Sankaran was selected from a group of exceptional applicants evaluated by the Seldin~Smith Award Selection Committee: Mukesh K. Jain (Chair), Vivian G. Cheung, Charles L. Sawyers, Elizabeth M. McNally, and Stuart H. Orkin. Finalists were evaluated by an Advisory Committee comprising five physician-scientist luminaries: Joseph L. Goldstein (Chair), Michael S. Brown, Robert J. Lefkowitz, Christine Seidman, and Arthur Weiss.
The Seldin~Smith Award complements two prestigious ASCI awards (the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award and the Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine) that recognize senior physician-scientists who have made major contributions to science, mentorship, and translation of discovery to clinical impact.
The goal of the Seldin~Smith Award is to connect exceptionally creative early-career physician-scientists with the legacies of two iconic figures in medicine: Donald Seldin and Lloyd “Holly” Smith Jr. Drs. Seldin and Smith, who both passed away in 2018, provided the inspiration for this Award through their storied careers of developing generations of outstanding physician-scientists.