Blood cancer specialist Dr. Mazyar Shadman is being honored at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as this year’s recipient of the Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award, a recognition by his colleagues for his expertise, compassion and the exemplary medical care he provides to his bone marrow transplant patients.
Each year the Clinical Research Division faculty nominates a fellow member for the award, which was established in 2001 by Dr. Ali Al-Johani, a former leukemia patient, in gratitude for the care he received at the Hutch.
Times being what they are, the award was presented to Shadman in an online ceremony by Dr. Nancy Davidson, senior vice president, director and professor in the Clinical Research Division. She is holder of the Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Clinical Research.
“In a little while I’ll come over to your office, and in the socially distant, masked fashion, I’ll have the opportunity to present you with this award in person,” she said, holding up on her panel of the computer screen the crystal glass inscribed with his name.
Davidson called him “a really valued member of our faculty.”
Shadman is a lymphoid malignancies physician focused on treatment sequences or combinations for patients with high-risk lymphomas and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL. His clinical research employs new therapeutic agents for these blood cancers, including immunotherapy (specifically CAR T-cell therapy, which involves genetically engineering patients' immune cells) and blood stem cell transplant.
Letters supporting his nomination made clear that Shadman is respected not only for his clinical expertise, but for his generosity of spirit.
“He is the most gracious and genuine colleague — always making time to answer questions from all of us about patient questions pertaining to his area of expertise,” wrote one physician urging that he win the award.
Another noted that he regularly publishes in scientific journals while working as a transplant and immunotherapy physician.
“He is respected by all his colleagues and has excelled both as a clinician taking care of patients and as a researcher involved in numerous clinical trials,” wrote another.
During the online ceremony, Shadman said he was touched by the honor his colleagues had conferred on him.
“It is really humbling when I look at the list of the previous recipients of this award, and also many other role models at the Hutch and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance,” he said.
Of all the awards he might hope to win in his career, he added, those involving patient care “are at the top of the list.”
His colleague Dr. Damian Green noted that, like many Hutch physicians, he and Shadman had been mentored by the late Dr. Ollie Press, a beloved physician and clinical researcher who died of a brain tumor in 2017.
“He would have been very proud of you for this accomplishment,” Green said.
The Al-Johani Award includes a cash prize as well as the crystal plaque. Previous winners include:
Sabin Russell is a former staff writer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. For two decades he covered medical science, global health and health care economics for the San Francisco Chronicle, and he wrote extensively about infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and a freelance writer for the New York Times and Health Affairs.