Stephen J. Forman
, M.D., the renowned leader of City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute
and the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, will receive the 2019 DKMS
Mechtild Harf Science Award in honor of his outstanding achievements in cancer immunology, hematology, stem cell transplantation and CAR T cell therapy on March 25 in Frankfurt, Germany. The award is given by DKMS, an international nonprofit organization founded 27 years ago in Germany by Peter Harf, M.D., to increase the number of stem cell donors after he lost his wife, Mechtild, to leukemia.
Forman also delivered the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture on Feb. 22 in Houston at theTransplantation & Cellular Therapy Meetings
of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR
.) The lecture is named after the Nobel Prize recipient in 1990 and the father of bone marrow transplantation, and recognizes individuals such as Forman who have contributed meritoriously to the advancement of knowledge in bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.
Under Forman’s direction for the last 32 years, City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute has grown tremendously. City of Hope’s bone marrow transplantation program is the only program in the nation that has had one-year survival above the expected rate for 14 consecutive years, according to an analysis by CIBMTR. This means that the institution achieved outcomes that exceeded clinical expectations; this is especially significant because the center traditionally manages the most difficult cases. It also consistently exceeds the national average in patient survivorship.
“Dr. Forman has led the development of City of Hope’s bone marrow transplantation program into one of the largest and most successful in the nation,” saidMichael Caligiuri
, M.D., president of City of Hope National Medical Center and the Deana and Steve Campbell Physician-in-Chief Distinguished Chair. “He has committed his life to improving the bone marrow transplantation process, making it more effective and safer, and with fewer side effects, for patients. In addition, Dr. Forman epitomizes City of Hope’s emphasis on ensuring that the research being performed in our laboratories reaches a patient’s bedside as quickly as possible and delivering the utmost compassionate care to patients.”
City of Hope has performed over 15,000 transplants. According to a 2018 CIBMTR report, City of Hope has the largest BMT program in California, and is among the three largest in the country.
Forman obtained his bachelor’s degree in philosophy cum laude from St. John’s College and his medical degree with honors from University of Southern California. He completed part of his hematology-oncology fellowship training at City of Hope and then joined Karl G. Blume, M.D., and Ernest Butler, M.D., in 1978 at the institution, which was developing its bone marrow transplantation program. Forman began research studies focused on understanding how the cytomegalovirus develops in transplant patients. Because their immune system is weakened, CMV, one of the most serious complications in transplant patients, can flare up, causing serious infections and a form of pneumonia.
Forman’s research has led to the reduction of CMV complications in transplant patients as well as cancer recurrences. He has helped extend the potential benefits of bone marrow transplantation to wider populations, including patients with nonrelated matched and partially matched donors, older people and HIV patients.
Since 2010, Forman has also directed the T Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory
, leading a team of laboratory and clinical scientists in translational research developing chimeric antigen receptor CAR T cells for treatment of a wide variety of hematologic malignancies, solid tumors and HIV. City of Hope’s CAR T program is one of the largest in the country with 16 active clinical trials and nearly 300 patients treated so far with CAR T therapies. Forman is also an official member of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, which brings together the best scientists, clinicians and industry partners to work collaboratively on cancer immunotherapy, and is multiprincipal investigator of City of Hope’s Lymphoma Specialized Programs of Research Excellence
grant from the National Cancer Institute.
Forman’s E. Donnall Thomas Lecture focused on his research and his colleagues’ research on CMV, which led to the development of a CMV peptide vaccine by City of Hope that has produced immunity in transplant recipients; it is now being tested to determine if it can prevent viral reactivation and disease.
Forman’s research is also focused on combining CMV specific T cells and a CAR against CD19, a leukemia and lymphoma biomarker. The CAR T cells will be tested in patients who have received a transplant to decrease the chances of relapse of CD19 positive acute lymphocytic leukemia and lymphoma, and also reduce the chances for CMV disease.