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Christoph Klein, winner of the William Dameshek Prize

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will honor Christoph Klein, MD, PhD, of Children’s Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, with the 2011 William Dameshek Prize for his many groundbreaking contributions to hematology, including his landmark discovery of mutations in HAX1 genes in patients with severe congenital neutropenia (Kostmann disease) and his discovery of human P14/ROBLD3 deficiency and G6PC3 deficiency, genetic defects that can cause severe congenital neutropenia.

Named after the late William Dameshek, MD, a renowned hematologist, past president of ASH, and first editor of ASH’s journal Blood, the William Dameshek Prize  is awarded to an individual who has made a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology. This prestigious award will be presented to Dr. Klein at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 13, during the 53rd ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

“The Society is honored to present this award to Dr. Klein for his pioneering research into the pathophysiology of rare diseases, which has had a direct and profound impact on clinical medicine,” said ASH President J. Evan Sadler, MD, PhD, of the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis. “His discoveries have advanced our understanding of diseases that, until recently, were not well-understood, providing new hope to patients.”

Dr. Klein, a renowned hematologist who carried out the first successful gene therapy study for children in Germany and identified the genetic basis of several diseases of the immune system, is chair of pediatrics at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital at Ludwig-Maximilians University.

Dr. Klein and his team’s recent contributions to hematology include his discovery that genetic mutations affecting the interleukin-10 receptor are associated with severe early-onset inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), leading him to use a stem cell transplant that successfully put one child’s IBD into remission. A second recent accomplishment includes Dr. Klein’s application of gene therapy to treat Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS), which succeeded in correcting symptoms of this rare, inherited disorder in nine out of 10 children in a clinical trial.

Dr. Klein received his medical degree and Master of Science in philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilians University and his doctorate in immunology at Université Paris V. After finishing his residency at Ludwig-Maximilians University, he completed his clinical training in pediatric immunology at Hôpital Necker des Enfants Malades in Paris and his clinical fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. While at Children’s Hospital Boston, Dr. Klein received an ASH Scholar Award, which provided him the opportunity to begin his academic career as an instructor in pediatrics in Richard Mulligan’s laboratory at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University. In 2000, Dr. Klein was named associate professor in pediatric hematology at Hannover Medical School in Germany, and in 2008 he was named chair of pediatric hematology/oncology at Hannover Medical School, a position he held until March of this year.

Dr. Klein has published numerous scientific papers in leading journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics, Immunity, and the Journal of Experimental Medicine. In addition to the ASH Scholar Award, Dr. Klein is the recipient of several national and international prizes, including the German Society of Pediatrics Adalbert-Czerny-Prize and the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Clinical Research. In 2010, Dr. Klein was the first pediatrician to receive the German Research Society’s prestigious Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize. In addition to his many awards and prizes, Dr. Klein serves as spokesman for 16 national research consortia for rare diseases and founded the Care-for-Rare Foundation, a nonprofit organization to help children with rare diseases in underprivileged countries.