Dr. Michael Linenberger of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been awarded one of the highest honors in the field of apheresis, the medical subspecialty that uses automated methods to separate blood components for therapeutic manipulation or for use in transfusion, transplantation and cell-based treatments. The Presidential Award from the American Society for Apheresis, or ASFA, recognizes Linenberger’s career-long contributions to this field, which is a supportive cornerstone for donors and patients involved in blood stem cell transplantation and cellular immunotherapy for cancer.
“Being recognized in this way is a very humbling and gratifying honor because it comes from individuals I admire as my peers and teachers,” said Linenberger, a hematologist who is a professor at Fred Hutch and the medical director of Apheresis and Cellular Therapy at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He also serves as the medical director of the SCCA marrow collection center for the National Marrow Donor Program.
The society will present Linenberger with his award at the ASFA 2022 Annual Meeting on May 4, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Over Linenberger’s career, he’s extended his expertise in the biology of blood cell formation to the application of apheresis technologies to support research advances and best practices in transplantation and immunotherapy. SCCA apheresis staff use these technologies to collect from donors or patients the blood stem cells that will form new disease-free blood and immune systems. Transplantation using blood stem cells results in the ability to produce healthy blood platelets (which prevent dangerous bleeds), infection-fighting white blood cells and oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Apheresis is also required to collect adequate numbers of blood immune cells that can be genetically modified to kill cancer. A special type of apheresis called extracorporeal photopheresis is also provided at SCCA to treat graft-versus-host disease, a transplant complication resulting from donor immune cells attacking the host patient’s healthy cells and organs.
“We do these collections every day and we do them safely and efficiently through the skillful, compassionate and dedicated work of our SCCA Apheresis Unit nurses,” said Linenberger, who said he’s proud of fostering scholarship within the nursing and other allied health staff on his team.
Linenberger’s contributions include his service on the board of ASFA and leading numerous committees and subcommittees involved in standards and guidelines, professional education, and diversity and inclusion. He has played a major role in the development of evidence-based guidelines and best practices for the safe, efficient and effective use of apheresis in the clinic. His leadership in professional development includes his role as program director of the University of Washington and Fred Hutch’s adult hematology-oncology fellowship program for early career physicians pursuing a specialized training in blood and cancer medicine.
In addition to being a recognition for his own contributions, Linenberger said that the honor, for him, recognizes that “one can make a huge impact by being a hard working ‘foot soldier’ in the ongoing efforts to improve donor safety, patient care and outcomes, evidence-based practice and education/training.”
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