Professor James Bussel
Medical Advisory Board, News

Congratulations to Professor James Bussel for his groundbreaking work in the field of ITP

Professor James Bussel received the Henry M. Stratton Medal for Clinical/Transitional science at the 2023 American Society of Hematology Conference in San Diego, California.

James Bussel, MD, recipient of the Henry M. Stratton Medal for translational/clinical science, is being honored for his invaluable contributions to the development of agents that increase platelet counts in patients with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and other conditions. His achievements include the groundbreaking discovery that giving intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to mothers can raise platelet counts in cases of fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FNAIT) —a treatment now used around the world. Dr. Bussel has increased the understanding of how IVIG treatment prevents platelet destruction in ITP, and his work has played a pivotal role in the development of several medications used to treat thrombocytopenic conditions. As professor emeritus of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical School, Dr. Bussel continues to be one of the most prominent investigators in the field of pediatric and adult ITP, having written 242 articles, 142 reviews, and 42 chapters to date.

Professor James BusselPerhaps the most inspiring aspect of Dr. Bussel’s career, however, has been his extensive work with other researchers and clinicians across the globe. His talent and the ease with which he approaches collaboration have stimulated the development of international consortia for research on ITP and national and international patient support groups that not only disseminate knowledge but encourage participation in research. These efforts have led to the creation of large data banks and have spawned numerous clinical trials. Although he trained as a pediatrician, Dr. Bussel’s research has also included adult populations, and this unique approach has increased the speed with which innovative ITP therapies are studied and approved for children.

In collaboration with basic science investigators, Dr. Bussel demonstrated that the SYK kinase inhibitor fostamatinib increases platelet counts in animal models of ITP by inhibiting platelet phagocytosis. This effect was observed in almost all patients included in his initial phase I/II studies in 2009, prompting two large, blinded, placebo-controlled international trials, which were published in 2019 and led to the approval of fostamatinib for the treatment of ITP.

Beyond sustaining grants from major funding agencies including NIH, he has won several prestigious awards, including the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine in 2012, which has often been considered the “Arab Nobel Prize in Medicine.” On several occasions, Dr. Bussel has joined the Platelet Disorders Support Association (PDSA), ASH, patients with ITP, and their caregivers to meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and the heads of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Hematology and Oncology Products to discuss the unmet needs and burden of disease among those with ITP. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, the PDSA Board of Directors has established an ITP Young Investigator Award in his name. When asked to offer a bit of advice to these young investigators and those considering the field, he urged aspiring hematologists to “follow your gut, take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, and contact the people who can help you achieve your goals, even if they rank much higher than you.”

Dr. Bussel has also been an active ASH member, having served as an abstract reviewer, chaired the education session on platelets, and spoken during several education sessions. He also helped to grow the now-established pre-ASH annual meeting breakfast session run by PDSA. Although he cited numerous mentors who have left an indelible mark on his career and shaped his approach to research and practice — including Drs. William Dement, Bill Speck, John Riley, Margaret Hilgartner, Bob McMillan, Ralph Nachman, and Albert von dem Borne — Dr. Bussel recognized without hesitation the one physician-scientist who has had the most outstanding impact on his career: his wife, Charlotte Cunningham-Rundles, MD.

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Source: ASH Daily News