Sanders wins Al-Johani Award

Clinical Research honors Jean Sanders for years of exemplary clinical care and compassion; credits her for existence of pediatric transplant programs nationwide
Thousands of pediatric transplant patients have benefited from Dr. Jean Sander's medical expertise, clinical care and research. Center News file photo

Since 2001, the Clinical Research Division has bestowed the Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award on select individuals in recognition of exemplary clinical medical care and compassion for hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients and their families. This year's award winner is Dr. Jean Sanders.

"She is the person who built our pediatric transplant program," said Dr. Fred Appelbaum, division director, who presented the award to Sanders during the Feb. 28 Clinical Oncology Grand Rounds. "She is the person who, probably more than any other single individual in this country, built the nation's pediatric transplant program," he said of the doctor, whose pioneering clinical research has advanced the field of pediatric bone marrow transplantation and improved the survival and quality of life of many children undergoing this lifesaving procedure.

Sanders accepted the Al-Johani Award with gratitude for the division's recognition of her 37 years of serving the clinical care, teaching and research missions of pediatric bone marrow transplantation-years filled with lessons from her patients. "Every one of them has taught me something," Sanders said. "I admire their courage and their stamina and ability to rise above the challenges they faced in getting to the transplant."

In addition to caring for her young patients, Sanders has trained more than 90 specialists in her field, authored more than 300 scientific publications, chaired multiple cooperative research groups, and served as adviser for many medical and scientific organizations, including the Children's Oncology Group, the National Childhood Cancer Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Institutes of Health.

"Anyone who follows Jean Sanders has a career that would pale in comparison," said Dr. Ann Woolfrey, before beginning her Grand Rounds lecture. "I think if I even accomplish a tenth of what Jean accomplished in her career I would be quite honored. She is one of my true mentors."

And for thousands of pediatric transplant patients, their hero.

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About the Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award

Upon establishment of the award, Dr. James Wade, a former division faculty member and SCCA medical director, requested it be named after benefactor and former SCCA cancer patient Dr. Ali Al-Johani, from Saudi Arabia, and that the recipient be chosen by a committee that would include representatives from nursing, quality and patient family services, clinical faculty and the division director.

Nominees must all demonstrate excellence in science and clinical performance, empathy toward patients, staff interactions and willingness to work on clinical and administrative assistance to improve patient safety and quality care.

The recognition includes a gift of $10,000 from the Al-Johani fund and a crystal award.

Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award winners:

  • 2001 Drs. David Madtes and Leona Holmbert
  • 2002 Dr. Bob Witherspoon
  • 2003 Dr. Mary Flowers
  • 2004 Dr. Mike Linenberger
  • 2006 Dr. Paul Carpenter
  • 2007 Dr. Paul O'Donnell
  • 2009 Mid-level providers
  • 2010 Dr. Kris Doney
  • 2011 Dr. Jean Sanders

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