Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD, chair of medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is the recipient of the prestigious 2021 Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) for his contributions to the understanding of the genetics, biology, and treatment of myeloid malignancies. Ebert is also the George P. Canellos, MD, and Jean S. Canellos Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
The Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of ASCI members in advancing knowledge in a specific field and in mentoring future generations of life science researchers. The recognition, which was first known as the ASCI Award, was renamed in 2006 in honor of Dr. Stanley J. Korsmeyer, a faculty member of Dana-Farber, and a dedicated and accomplished physician-scientist and mentor who was the first recipient in 1998; He passed away in 2005. The recipient of the annual Award is provided with a $20,000 honorarium and presents the Korsmeyer Lecture at the Society’s annual meeting.
“I feel particularly humbled to receive this award. Stan Korsmeyer was a legendary scientist and mentor at Dana-Farber, and it is particularly meaningful that the award is named in his honor,” Ebert said.
ASCI comprises more than 3,000 physician-scientists from all medical specialties and is dedicated to the advancement of research that extends our understanding and improves the treatment of diseases of all people, and members are committed to mentoring future generations of physician-scientists of diverse backgrounds and biomedical disciplines.
Ebert received a bachelor's degree from Williams College; a doctorate from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship under the mentorship of Sir Peter Radcliffe; and an MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, a fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at Dana-Farber, and a postdoctoral fellowship with Todd Golub, MD, at the Broad Institute.
Ebert’s laboratory focuses on myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a myeloid malignancy that frequently progresses to acute myeloid leukemia. Ebert initially worked to identify the gene responsible for a type of MDS arising from a specific chromosomal deletion of chromosome 5q. After finding in clinical trials that patients with this deletion had a better response to lenalidomide treatment, his laboratory identified the mechanistic basis for lenalidomide activity in both MDS and multiple myeloma. Lenalidomide induces the targeted degradation of disease-associated proteins. Further research revealed additional mechanisms of targeted protein degradation. These findings have helped open avenues for the identification of novel therapeutics.
In studies to characterize the premalignant state for myeloid malignancies, Ebert’s laboratory extended knowledge about clonal hematopoiesis, the state arising when a hematopoietic stem cell produces an expanded population of blood cells. His laboratory characterized the genetics of clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (termed CHIP), a premalignant state that affects more than 10% of people by age 70, and is associated with greater risk of hematologic malignancy, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality. This knowledge may lead to prediction of disease risk and to improved patient outcomes through earlier detection and treatment of disease.
Ebert’s achievements have been recognized widely. He received the William Dameshek Prize from the American Society of Hematology in 2017, the Meyenburg Prize from the Meyenburg Foundation in 2019, and the Sjöberg Prize from the Sjöberg Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2021. He was elected to the Association of American Physicians in 2015 and the National Academy of Medicine in 2019. Elected to the ASCI in 2011, Dr. Ebert subsequently became an ASCI Council member in 2015 and served as ASCI President, 2017-2018.
In addition to Korsmeyer, previous Korsmeyer Award recipients with a Dana-Farber affiliation, include: Laurie H. Glimcher, MD (2001); William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD (2012) and Ronald A. DePinho, MD (2002).