Physician Stephen J. Forman Receives Top Honors for Research on Bone Marrow Transplantation

Physician Stephen J. Forman Receives Top Honors for Research on Bone Marrow Transplantation

Stephen J. Forman, MD, a physician and researcher in bone marrow transplantation and disorders such as lymphoma, is racking up some accolades.

Forman will receive the 2019 DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award on March 25 in Frankfurt, Germany, for his work in cancer research as the head of City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute, and the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. Peter Harf, MD, founded the global non-profit DKMS in Germany 27 years ago to increase the number of stem cell donors after his wife’s death from leukemia.

Forman also had the honor of presenting the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture in Houston on Feb. 22 at the Transplantation & Cellular Therapy Meetings of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. Named for the scientist known as the father of bone marrow transplantation, the lecture spotlights researchers who have made significant strides in bone marrow research or stem cell transplants.

Forman’s lecture focused on his collaborative research on cytomegalovirus (CMV), which led to a City of Hope vaccine that’s being tested to see if it can block viral reactivation and disease.

“Dr. Forman has led the development of City of Hope’s bone marrow transplantation program into one of the largest and most successful in the nation,” Michael Caligiuri, MD, City of Hope president, said in a news release. “He has committed his life to improving the bone marrow transplantation process, making it more effective and safer, and with fewer side effects, for patients.”

Caligiuri also called Forman a compassionate, caring physician who works steadfastly to swiftly turn research into therapies.

More than 15,000 transplants have been performed at California-based City of Hope, an independent research and treatment center for diabetes, cancers such as lymphoma, and other serious diseases. Led by Forman for 32 years, its transplantation program regularly exceeds the national average in patient survival rates, and for 14 years has had one-year patient survival rates beyond the expected — reportedly topping other programs nationally. What’s more, the institution usually takes on the toughest cases.

Forman, who received his medical degree with honors from the University of Southern California, focused his early research on learning how the dangerous CMV develops in transplant patients. Those investigations led to a drop in CMV complications as well as cancer recurrences.

In addition to being a principal researcher for City of Hope’s Specialized Programs of Research Excellence lymphoma grant from the National Cancer Institute, Forman directs the T Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory, one of the largest of its kind nationwide. With the hope of lowering relapse rates in CD19-positive acute lymphocytic leukemia and lymphoma, his research calls for chimeric antigen receptor T-cells to be evaluated in transplant recipients.

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