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DeBaun’s mentoring honored by American Society of Hematology

Jul. 29, 2019, 2:32 PM


by Christina Echegaray

Michael DeBaun, MD, MPH, director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease, has been awarded the American Society of Hematology’s 2019 ASH Mentor Award for his sustained and outstanding commitment to the training and career development of early career hematologists.

Michael R. DeBaun, MD, MPH

The ASH Mentor Award recognizes hematologists who have excelled in mentoring trainees and colleagues. Each year, the society recognizes two mentors in the areas of basic science, clinical investigation, education or clinical/community care who have had a significant, positive impact on their mentees’ careers and, through their mentees, have advanced research and patient care in the field of hematology. ASH will present the award to DeBaun Dec. 8, during the 61st ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando.

DeBaun, who came to Vanderbilt in 2010, is being recognized for his profound influence on his mentees’ intellectual growth and career development. He is a renowned clinical investigator whose work to improve care of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) has been recognized with numerous awards, including the ASH Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize in 2014.

“The mentor award represents the hard work of my mentees in the United States, Nigeria, and Ghana who have taken on the challenge of focusing their life’s work on delivering and advancing the care of children and adults with sickle cell disease,” said DeBaun, vice chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Pediatrics, professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, and J.C. Peterson MD Chair in Pediatric Pulmonology. “Their collective work is a sense of immense pride, not only for me, but also for my wife and now adult children.”

DeBaun grew up in a family of public school educators and youth athletic coaches. His commitment to mentoring spans every level of education, from high school students with SCD to tenured faculty members at multiple medical schools. DeBaun’s mentees have attained academic leadership positions and expanded their expertise in SCD, both nationally and internationally.

His former mentees, and now collaborators, are leaders of SCD research teams studying how to cure children and adults with SCD, prevent strokes in children with SCD in Nigeria and to decrease pregnancy-related deaths in women with SCD in Ghana. DeBaun has been a faculty member and director of the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI), a one-year mentoring program for fellows and junior faculty. He has been the primary mentor for 13 CRTI scholars, five of which were fellows or faculty from VUMC, the first CRTI scholar from sub-Saharan Africa and a recipient of the ASH Global Research Award. Two have been also been directors of CRTI.

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