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American Society of Hematology selects Michalis Agathocleous to receive 2020 Scholar Award

Michalis Agathocleous, an assistant professor at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern, has been selected by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to receive one of ASH’s most prestigious award programs — the ASH Scholar Award. The program funds hematologists in the United States and Canada who conduct basic, translational, and clinical research that furthers the understanding and treatment of blood disorders.

Dr. Agathocleous will receive $150,000 over a two- to three-year period to study the metabolism of blood-forming stem cells and investigate how changes in metabolism due to diet, the environment, and other factors may contribute to the development of leukemia.

“We are excited and thankful to receive this award from ASH,” said Dr. Agathocleous who is also a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar. “This funding will help us understand which nutrients blood-forming stem cells and leukemia cells depend on and to discover metabolic vulnerabilities of leukemia that can be targets for therapy.”

Agathocleous lab members working on the project. L-R: Swetha Mahesula, M.S., Research Associate and Sojeong Jun, Ph.D. Student

Agathocleous lab members Swetha Mahesula, M.S., and Sojeong Jun are working to understand the type of nutrients consumed by hematopoietic and leukemia cells.

The Agathocleous lab has already developed methods to study small molecules derived from nutrients, known as metabolites, inside stem cells for the first time. Metabolites are traditionally difficult to study, especially in rare cell populations like blood-forming stem cells, because of the large number of cells required for conventional analysis. The Agathocleous lab is currently using these techniques to study how metabolites control the function of stem cells during regeneration and the response of stem cells to infection and how those influences can lead to leukemia.

“For many scientists, attaining early funding for their research is a turning point, not only providing financial support but also showing that ASH believes in their potential to make impactful discoveries,” said 2020 ASH President Stephanie Lee, MD, MPH of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “For more than 30 years now, ASH has been supporting fellows and early-career faculty with ASH Scholar Awards. Recipients of these prestigious awards have gone on to distinguished careers, receiving more than $1 billion from various funding institutions and becoming leaders in our field. Congratulations to all the awardees.”

ASH Scholar Awards are made possible through support from the ASH Foundation, as well as from the corporate community, individual donors, and funds committed by the Society.

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