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DeBaun’s sickle cell disease research honored

Aug. 14, 2014, 9:40 AM

Michael R. DeBaun, M.D., MPH, has been recognized by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) for his significant contributions and research advances in the area of sickle cell disease.

Michael R. DeBaun, M.D., MPH, has been honored by the American Society of Hematology. (photo by Susan Urmy)

DeBaun, vice chair of Clinical Research and the J.C. Peterson M.D. Professor of Pediatric Pulmonology in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, received the 2014 Ernest Beutler Prize in Clinical Science.

The award is named after the late Ernest Beutler, M.D., a past president of the ASH and a physician-scientist for more than 50 years, and also includes a lecture in which the recipients present their work at the ASH annual meeting, scheduled for Dec. 8.

DeBaun will present on the significance and optimal treatment of silent strokes in children with sickle cell disease, as well as opportunities to combine culturally sensitive patient-oriented research with humanitarian efforts in Nigeria.

“To receive this award from my peers is humbling,” said DeBaun, who is also founder and director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry-Matthew Walker Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease.
“For my peers to honor me in this fashion is a real testament to the many students, fellows, faculty and other research team members who have worked in my lab to understand how to improve the lives of individuals with sickle cell disease,” DeBaun said.

After earning his medical degree and master’s degree in health services research from Stanford University, DeBaun completed a residency in Pediatrics and a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. He earned a Master of Public Health degree at The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and completed a cancer epidemiology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute.

He returned to Washington University and was recruited in 2010 to Vanderbilt to lead the new sickle cell center.

DeBaun is an acknowledged international leader in applications of clinical science to the care of individuals with sickle cell disease.

His sickle cell disease research is focused on two areas elucidating the epidemiology, etiology and optimal therapy for: 1) cerebrovascular injury; and 2) asthma (obstructive lung disease). In Nigeria and Ghana, he is presently leading an effort to improve the care of children and adults with sickle cell disease, and mentoring the next generation of African physicians with a focus on sickle cell disease.

In addition, DeBaun has served many different roles for ASH, including his current role as chair of ASH’s Committee on Promoting Diversity and has also served as a faculty member and past director of ASH’s Clinical Research Training Institute. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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