Adolfo Ferrando Awarded the William Dameshek Prize for Outstanding Hematologic Research

June 23, 2020

Adolfo Ferrando, MD, PhD, a member of the Institute for Cancer Genetics (ICG) and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), has been awarded the William Dameshek Prize for his contributions in advancing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) research.

“Receiving this award from ASH is most humbling, particularly considering the list of extraordinary hematologists and researchers that have been recognized with the prize before me,” says Dr. Ferrando, professor of pediatrics and of pathology and cell biology at Columbia’s Institute for Cancer Genetics. At the HICCC, recent past recipients include Drs. Emmanuelle Passegué and Riccardo Dalla-Favera.

Dr. Ferrando also serves as the associate director of Shared Resources at the HICCC. ASH is paying tribute to Dr. Ferrando’s research advances in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children, and understanding the biology of the disease and discovering potential new therapies that could inhibit its progress. 

Notably, the Ferrando lab identified how NOTCH1 mutations drive T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia. By studying these mutations, Dr. Ferrando and collaborators uncovered that leukemia “hijacks” the mechanisms that drive growth during normal lymphocyte development and that potential new therapies could be developed to target these critical pathways. The Ferrando lab has also identified a gene, NT5C2, as a specific driver of chemotherapy resistance in ALL. By understanding the mechanisms to resistance, Dr. Ferrando and researchers are working to identify novel therapies aimed at preventing relapse in patients.

“As we learn about the logic and mechanisms of drug resistance we will be able to identify new opportunities to deliver highly effective treatments,” says Dr. Ferrando. “I am particularly excited about advances in single cell genomics and transcriptomics, and in structural and chemical biology, which are already rapidly transforming the way we study cancer and develop new drugs.” 

Dr. Ferrando was recently elected to the Association of American Physicians, an honorific society of the nation’s leading physician-scientists. He has been recognized for his contributions to the field with several awards, including the Pershing Square Sohn Prize in Cancer Research and induction into the American Society of Clinical Investigation membership.

The Dameshek award is bestowed by the American Society of Hematology (ASH), and will be presented to Dr. Ferrando at ASH’s annual meeting and exposition, to be held later this year. The prize is awarded to an early- or mid-career hematologist who has made a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology. This prize is named after the late William Dameshek, MD, a past president of ASH and the original editor of the Society’s flagship journal,  Blood.