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Sylvester Hematologists Conclude a Successful ASH Conference

Hematology experts with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine took part in the 63rd annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) conference held virtually and in person at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

ASH Sign

The annual event serves as the premier exposition in malignant and non-malignant hematology. For three days, hematology leaders from across the country collaborated and held various sessions and presentations. Sylvester was well represented with authors on 73 abstracts, 31 of which were oral presentations.

“ASH showcases the best of the field in hematology and Sylvester had an exceptional in its many, important contributions,” said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester, Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and professor of medicine, biochemistry, and molecular biology. “The quality of the presentations made by our researchers shows the excellence we bring to our research, which is having important impact on our field and helping advance our ability to treat and prevent blood disorders.”

Topics of Note

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S.
Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S.

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S., chief of hematology at Sylvester, made an impressive showing on the first day of ASH: He was the author of four oral and one poster presentations on myeloid malignancies, including discussions on acute leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, clinical trials, and treatment outcomes. Dr. Sekeres also gave a talk at a special session on ASH Guidelines for the Treatment of Older Adults with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which he chaired.

“We are making great progress in the treatment of these difficult cancers, with therapies now targeting the genetic basis of these conditions,” Dr. Sekeres said. “Sylvester’s research efforts, which we showcased at ASH, will make people’s lives better.”

C. Ola Landgren, M.D., Ph.D.

Ola Landgren, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Myeloma Program and Program Leader of Sylvester’s Tumor Biology Research Program, chaired the myeloma session “Multiple Myeloma & Plasma Cell Dyscrasias; Clinical & Epidemiological: Reoptimizing standards & redefining approaches.” Dr. Landgren also contributed to six oral presentations on lymphoma resistance and results from Iceland’s multiple myeloma trials.

Namrata Chandhok, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Miller School of Medicine and member of the hematology division, brought attention to health disparities for underrepresented U.S. minority populations. Her poster explored how healthcare outcomes vary in Hispanic populations to help mitigate inequity in the future.

Justin Watts, M.D., associate professor of medicine, authored two oral presentations and eight posters while moderating the session on AML clinical therapeutics. Two of his standout studies include the bi-specific antibody targeting CD3-CD123 called APVO436, which has shown promising early results in activating a patient’s immune system to fight their leukemia. His other work was the oral presentation which combined the targeted therapy olutasidenib (FT-2102), and novel IDH1 inhibitor, with azacitidine and induced durable complete remissions and mutation clearance in patients with IDH1-mutated AML.

Earned Recognition

Francesco Maura, M.D
Francesco Maura, M.D., presenting at ASH21.

One of the top awards during ASH went to Francesco Maura, M.D., assistant professor, and co-PI in the Myeloma Genomic Lab, who was awarded the Joanne Levy M.D. Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement. This honor went to Dr. Maura for his high-scoring abstract “Genomic and Immune Signatures Predict Sustained MRD Negativity in Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients Treated with Daratumumab, Carfilzomib, Lenalidomide, and Dexamethasone (D-KRd).”

“This award is an important acknowledgement of our lab’s and our collaborator’s effort to decipher the complex mechanisms of resistance to the most effective drug combinations for patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma,” Dr. Maura said.

Joanne Levy M.D. Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement

This is the first study where whole genome sequencing of the tumor cells is paired with the single-cell RNA sequencing of the microenvironment. Thanks to this comprehensive design and unprecedented resolution, Dr. Maura was able to identify distinct genomic and immune features associated with either sustained minimal residual disease (MRD) negativity or positivity. Data showed that the resistance to this four, anti-myeloma drug combination is driven by a complex interplay between the immune system and tumor cells. Only by investigating both compartments, Dr. Maura and his lab will be able to identify these features associated with treatment failure.