In academic medicine, endowed chairs are honors created by philanthropic funds to provide stable, long-term positions for highly accomplished scientists. University of Colorado Cancer Center is proud to announce recipients of two newly endowed chairs, namely Daniel Pollyea, MD, recipient of the Robert H. Allen Endowed Chair in Hematology Research, and Eric Pietras, PhD, recipient of the Cleo Meador/George Ryland Scott Endowed Chair in Hematology Research. The positions recognize the researchers’ excellence in pushing forward the field of hematologic oncology and cancer clinical trials.
Dr. Pollyea is an associate professor in the CU School of Medicine where he also serves as the Director of Leukemia Services for the Hematology Division. He received his MD from the University of Chicago, where he completed his residency before serving as Chief Medical Resident at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He then completed fellowship training at Stanford University, where he also received a Masters in Epidemiology. Dr. Pollyea arrived at the University of Colorado in 2011. In the ensuing years, he has developed a truly outstanding clinical research program that is pioneering advances in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. Specifically, Dr. Pollyea’s work on the development of the drug venetoclax has led to an unprecedented improvement for elderly patients with AML. The work, which was recently published in Lancet Oncology, will likely lead to the first significant change in the standard of care for AML in decades.
“Dan has been an outstanding partner in testing new therapies aimed at leukemia stem cells, which we expect will lead to a truly new paradigm in the treatment of this and other blood cancers. The intent of awarding the Robert H. Allen Chair to Dr. Pollyea is to support his research activities as part of the leukemia research team, which will strongly facilitate continuing advances for patients with AML and related diseases,” says Craig T. Jordan, PhD, Nancy Carroll Allen Chair and Chief of the CU School of Medicine Division of Hematology.
Dr. Pietras is an assistant professor in the CU School of Medicine Division of Hematology. He received his PhD from UCLA, followed by post-doctoral studies at UCSF, where he worked with the internationally renowned stem cell expert, Emmanuelle Passegue. Dr. Pietras was recruited to the Hematology Division in 2015. Despite being early in his career, Dr. Pietras has achieved outstanding academic success. As a post-doctoral fellow and new assistant professor, he published papers in multiple top tier journals (e.g., Journal of Experimental Medicine, Cell Stem Cell, and Nature Cell Biology).
Dr. Pietras is an expert on the function of normal hematopoietic cells (HSCs) in the context of stress induced by various hematologic diseases (arthritis and related inflammatory diseases, as well as chronic and acute forms of cancer). His studies are focused on how normal blood production is impaired by disease processes, and how intrinsic inflammatory conditions lead to stem cell damage and dysfunction.
“Eric has accomplished an incredible amount, considering how early he still is in his career. The Cleo Meador and George Ryland Scott Chair will allow him to open new lines of investigation in the realm of basic science studies of HSCs in disease. He is a keen and motivated scientist, and we are honored to use this chair to support his transition from early-career scientist into one of the leaders in the field of research into the function and dysfunction of hematopoietic stem cells,” says Jordan.
The University of Colorado Cancer Center is honored by the trust of donors who make these positions possible, which in turn make possible the recruitment, retention and support of world-class researchers working to discover, develop and deliver tomorrow’s treatments for cancer.