(Minneapolis, MN) — March 16, 2023 — National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match® announced two recipients of its Amy Strelzer Manasevit Research Program grant for 2023. The grant underscores NMDP/Be The Match’s commitment to research to advance the future of care and improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancer or blood diseases.
The Amy Strelzer Manasevit Research Program, among the largest and most coveted grants in the transplant and cellular therapy field, supports the research efforts of scientists and clinicians early in their careers. Celebrating its 25th year, the award is funded through generous gifts to the Be The Match Foundation® and focuses on launching young investigators on a lifelong journey of discovery to prevent or treat life-threatening complications following all forms of cellular therapy.
This year’s grant recipients, called Amy Scholars, include Eiko Hayase, MD, PhD, and Melody Smith, MD, MS. Dr. Hayase is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center who specializes in treatment strategies in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This grant will help Dr. Hayase evaluate a novel treatment for dysbiotic microbiota induced intestinal graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). GVHD is a post-transplant complication in which donor T cells attack tissues in the recipient’s body. Dr. Smith is an assistant professor at Stanford University in the Department of Medicine, Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, where she established an independent lab. Her research focuses on studies evaluating strategies whereby donor T cells can be administered to improve outcomes following blood and marrow transplant. Specifically, she studies novel treatment strategies using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy.
“We are honored to support Dr. Hayase and Dr. Smith and their research efforts to improve the lives of those battling a blood cancer or blood disease,” said Jeffery Auletta, MD, Senior Vice President, Patient Outcomes and Experience, NMDP/Be The Match and Chief Scientific Director, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®). “With their continued commitments to research, we are confident they will impact many lives and are proud to award them with this grant.”
The grant will support Dr. Hayase’s and Dr. Smith’s research through its 5-year provision of a total $400,000 each. Since 1998, Be The Match Foundation®️ has invested nearly $12 million to fund 49 early career physician-scientists to develop research portfolios and establish their labs.
Additionally, NMDP/Be The Match continues supporting research by announcing the launch of the Barbara Buchbinder Nurse Research Program. This Program was established through a philanthropic gift to the Be The Match Foundation®, to support focused research from bone marrow transplant (BMT) nurses to improve transplant experience and outcomes for our pediatric patients.
“We are deeply grateful and inspired when a family chooses to honor a loved one through philanthropy. Barbara helped so many pediatric patients throughout her career, and that legacy will continue through the lives that will be impacted by this new program,” said Joy King, Chief Advancement Officer, NMDP/Be The Match and Executive Director, Be The Match Foundation.
Barbara was dedicated to pediatric hematology/oncology and transplant care for more than 20 years. This annual research grant will be awarded to a chosen BMT nurse each year, beginning in 2024. Recipients will be chosen through an application and review process facilitated by the NMDP/Be The Match. The application period opens later this year.
National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match®
The National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® is the leading global partner working to save lives through cellular therapy. With 35 years of experience managing the most diverse registry of potential unrelated blood stem cell donors and cord blood units in the world, NMDP/Be The Match is a proven partner in providing cures to patients with life-threatening blood and marrow cancers and diseases. Through their global network, they connect centers and patients to their best cell therapy option—from blood stem cell transplant to a next-generation therapy—and collaborate with cell and gene therapy companies to support therapy development and delivery through Be The Match BioTherapies®. NMDP/Be The Match is a tireless advocate for the cell therapy community, working with hematologists/oncologists to remove barriers to consultation and treatment, and supporting patients through no-cost programs to eliminate non-medical obstacles to cell therapy. In addition, they are a global leader in research through the CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®)—a collaboration with Medical College of Wisconsin, investing in and managing research studies that improve patient outcomes and advance the future of care.