John C. Byrd Awarded Prestigious 2015 William Dameshek Prize

August 03, 2015
Mechanism of Ibrutinib Resistance Identified in Chronic Leukemia John Byrd

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John C. Byrd, MD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) has been named the 2015 recipient of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) William Dameshek Prize for his contributions to the development of transformative treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), most notably rituximab and ibrutinib.

This prize, named after the late William Dameshek, MD, a past president of ASH and the original editor of Blood, recognizes a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology. Byrd will accept his award at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 10, during the 57th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando.

Byrd is the D. Warren Brown Chair of Leukemia Research at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he holds the academic rank of professor of internal medicine, medicinal chemistry; molecular, cellular, and developmental biology; and veterinary bioscience. He is the director of the division of hematology and program co-leader of the Leukemia Research Program in the OSUCCC. Byrd is internationally recognized for his translational research focused on the development of targeted, immune-based treatments for leukemia.

Recognized for ‘Revolutionizing’ Leukemia Treatment

Throughout his more than 20-year career, Byrd has revolutionized the way CLL is viewed and treated, yielding practice-changing therapies for patients with the disease. Early in his career, Byrd developed and defined the mechanism of action of the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab, the first therapy to prolong survival in CLL. Byrd led the pre-clinical and clinical development of the targeted therapy ibrutinib. This advance disproved the widely held notion that only cancers with a single molecular target could be treated with targeted therapy.  Since the drug’s approval in 2013, he has continued to facilitate research addressing drug resistance and exploring alternative treatment strategies.

Byrd began his medical career in 1991 after earning his medical degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine and fellowship in hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplantation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Byrd received translational laboratory training at Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Michael Grever, MD, whom he has continued to work closely with throughout his career.  As a junior Army Medical Corps Officer, Byrd focused his research effort on understanding the biology of CLL and also developing new targeted treatments for treatment of this disease.

Following his military service, in 2001 Byrd joined The OSUCCC - James where he has transformed the hematologic malignancies program from a joint hematology-oncology program with seven members into a distinct division of hematology with nearly 50 members of whom the majority are women. He is active in cooperative group research, serving as a member of the CLL Research Consortium and in several leadership roles within the Cancer and Leukemia Group B and Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.   

National Thought Leader
Byrd has been heavily involved in ASH throughout his career, serving as faculty and co-director of the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute, one of the Society’s hallmark training programs. He currently serves as an associate editor of Blood and has also served as a contributing editor of the Society’s member publication The Hematologist. Beyond his involvement with ASH, Byrd is active in the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association of Cancer Research and serves as a board member of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published more than 375 peer-reviewed articles.

About The OSUCCC – James
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only four centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. As the cancer program’s 306-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. At 21 floors with more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care. For more information, please visit

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