The 2021 Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award: Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD
Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD, is the recipient of the 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.
Dr. 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 the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Todd Golub at the Broad Institute.
Dr. Ebert’s laboratory focuses on myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a myeloid malignancy that frequently progresses to acute myeloid leukemia. Dr. 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, Dr. 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.
Dr. Ebert is the George P. Canellos, MD, and Jean S. Canellos Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the Chair of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an Institute Member of the Broad Institute, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Numerous foundations and organizations have supported his work; among these are the William Lawrence & Blanche Hughes Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, and the Edward P. Evans Foundation. He has received funding from the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, among other US federal agencies.
Dr. 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.
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