swcrf collaborator prof. zhu chen is honored by the American Society of Hematology

From left: Drs. Alan Rosmarin, Hugues de The, Zhu Chen and Jonathan Licht.

The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation extends its heartfelt congratulations to our longtime collaborator Prof. Zhu Chen, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, who was honored with the 2016 Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize from the American Society of Hematology (ASH). Dr. Chen, who is also honorary director of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology (SIH), was recognized on December 5 at the 58th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego along with Hugues de Thé, MD, PhD, of Collège de France, for their significant research advances in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).

The Ernest Beutler Lecture, named for the late Ernest Beutler, MD, past president of ASH and physician-scientist for more than 50 years, is a two-part lectureship that recognizes major translational advances related to a single topic. The award honors two individuals, one who has enabled advances in basic science and another for achievements in clinical science or translational research.

“Thirty years ago, APL was among the most dreaded and lethal forms of leukemia. Today, it is among the most curable, thanks to the outstanding contributions of Drs. de Thé and Chen,” said ASH President Charles S. Abrams, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania. “Together, their work to understand APL from a molecular level, and then applying those insights to discovering groundbreaking treatments, has significantly improved patient outcomes. Drs. de Thé and Chen’s accomplishments are highly regarded in our field, and I am honored that the Society has chosen them to give one of our most prestigious lectures." 

Drs. de Thé and Chen presented their lecture on Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia: A Model for Precision Medicine and Cure by Targeted Therapies. During their lecture, Dr. de Thé reviewed the pathogenesis of APL and the molecular basis for its response to therapy, and Prof. Chen reviewed the conceptual development and clinical advances in APL treatment.

Prof. Chen, the former Health Minister of China, has made seminal contributions to the concept and successful paradigm of molecular target-based differentiation/apoptosis therapy of APL. Collaborating with Prof. Zhen-Yi Wang of the SIH and SWCRF founder and CEO Samuel Waxman, MD, he developed a novel targeted treatment strategy for newly diagnosed APL with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide and led the first clinical trial combining ATRA, arsenic trioxide, and chemotherapy. This therapy has transformed APL from highly fatal to the first curable acute myeloid leukemia.  His basic/translational studies have consistently contributed to disease biology of APL and the mechanism of action of arsenic in treating this disease.

Prof. Chen acknowledged his collaboration with the SWCRF during his presentation and also shared the personal significance of the honor given that Dr. Beutler had been a friend and mentor to him. 

"Prof. Samuel Waxman is one of the pioneers of cancer differentiation therapy and a close friend of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology (SIH)," says Prof. Chen. "Over the past three decades, Prof. Waxman played a major role in the APL breakthrough via his great collaborative research on the molecular leukemogenesis and differentiation therapy of this difficult disease, his most visionary support to the capacity-building and research programs of many groups in the war fighting cancer, and his tremendous efforts in fostering young talents from hematology and oncology research institutions all over the world, the SIH in particular."

Click here to read an article from the ASH News Daily on Prof. Chen’s presentation at the annual meeting.