Second Annual Walkers Scholar Fellowship Awarded to Yong-Oon Ahn, PhD

December 18, 2023

Yong-Oon Ahn, PhD has been awarded the second annual Walkers Scholar Fellowship at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) and Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S). As a Walker Scholar, Dr. Ahn joins a group of outstanding researchers at the Edward P. Evans

Yong-Oon Ahn, PhD

Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) Fellowship Program working under the guidance of Emily Mace, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics Immunology and member of the HICCC’s Tumor Biology and Microenvironment Program.   

Dr. Ahn is an associate research scientist in the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Ahn’s research focuses on stem cells and understanding the evolution of MDS to AML. 

In elderly individuals, a process known as clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) occurs, in which hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) multiply, creating clones with mutations. These mutations can lead to MDS, and even further mutations can progress the condition to acute myeloid luekemia (AML). This study utilizes induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are cells derived from healthy donors or patients and used to study cancer and other diseases. Using iPSCs, Dr. Ahn plans to model the clonal evolution that occurs during CHIP and its progression to MDS and AML. The iPSCs used will be genetically modified and then differentiated into HSCs, myeloid, and NK cells, and single-cell analysis will be conducted to understand each cells’ growth and transformation to explore potential treatments for MDS/AML. 

The new fellowship has been made possible by a generous gift from Nancy and Joe Walker. Joe Walker received a B.A. in political science from Columbia College and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Joe is a member of the VP&S Board of Advisors and has been a member of the HICCC Cancer Advisory Council since 2016.