Dr. Effie Petersdorf, investigator in the Clinical Research Division, is one of eight individuals chosen to receive the 2003 Asian American Living Pioneer Award from the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation. Petersdorf was presented with the award, which this year honors those who have made pioneering efforts in medical care and research, on Oct. 11 during a gala dinner at the Asian Resource Center in Seattle.
Petersdorf's research has helped to improve the outcomes of patients who undergo bone-marrow or stem-cell transplants for leukemia by refining the tissue-typing process that enables cancer patients to find suitably matched donors. Using highly sensitive DNA fingerprinting methods to study the genes that determine an individual's tissue type, Petersdorf and colleagues have shown that certain donor-recipient mismatches can still lead to a successful transplant, while others do not. The finding that certain tissue-type mismatches are permissible potentially widens the pool of available donors for those individuals-particularly those of mixed-race heritage-for whom the donor pool is limited.
In 1999, Petersdorf, who is also a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, was one of 60 scientists and engineers to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
The Pioneer award, which recognizes outstanding members of the Asian-American community, has been given out annually since 1997. Past recipients include Gov. Gary Locke, KING-TV anchor Lori Matsukawa and philanthropist Scott Oki.