American Society of Hematology recognizes David Nathan with lifetime achievement award


David Nathan, MDDavid G. Nathan, MD  

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

ASH will formally recognize Nathan at its annual meeting this December in San Diego. The award is named for Wallace Henry Coulter, a prolific inventor and entrepreneur who made important contributions to hematology and to ASH. Nathan's numerous advances include 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, he devised the first successful treatment for iron overload (known as subcutaneous deferoxamine) for thalassemia patients undergoing chronic transfusion therapy.

Perhaps most significantly, Nathan – the Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School – has trained, supported, and mentored more than 100 hematologists – many of whom currently hold leadership positions in internal medicine and pediatrics elsewhere.

"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."

A graduate of Harvard College in 1951 and Harvard Medical School in 1955, Nathan 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, he 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, 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 selection process, established a loan forgiveness program for clinical investigators, and increased funding for clinical research. 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.

ASH President in 1986, Nathan 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. He has written several books – including Hematology of Infancy and Childhood, Genes, Blood, and Courage, and The Cancer Treatment Revolution – and has earned numerous other 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.

For more information on the award, go to: Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology 

  • Email
  • Print
  • Share
  • Text
Highlight Glossary Terms
  • Media Contacts

    • For all inquiries, call 617-632-4090 and ask to speak to a member of the media team. Please direct emails to media@dfci.harvard.edu.