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Three researchers elected to Association of American Physicians | Overview

BOSTON, MA (May 9, 2023) — Three researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have been elected to the Association of American Physicians (AAP), an honorary society for the advancement of scientific and practical medicine. Drs. Akiko Shimamura, Wanda Phipatanakul, and Vijay Sankaran were inducted on April 22, 2023, at the AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

Election to AAP is an honor extended to less than 100 physicians per year for their outstanding basic or translational research. The AAP includes about 1,200 active members and 700 emeritus and honorary members.

Dr. Akiko Shimamura

Read Dr. Shimamura's bio.

Dr. Shimamura is the Director of the Bone Marrow Failure and Myelodysplastic Syndrome Program at Boston Children's and conducts research spanning basic to clinical studies to advance the diagnosis and treatment of children and adults with these conditions. She launched a national patient registry for Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS) to improve outcomes for this rare but devastating condition. She is working to pinpoint the molecular and genetic changes that lead to leukemia in kids with bone marrow failure.

“My lab studies how germline and somatic genetic mutations interact to affect blood production and drive clonal evolution. Our work has identified potential individualized interception strategies to prevent leukemia,” says Dr. Shimamura. “I am deeply honored to be elected to the AAP, whose distinguished members have been an inspiration to me throughout my career in medicine.”

Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul

Read Dr. Phipatanakul's bio.

Dr. Phipatanakul directs the Asthma and Allergy Clinical Research Center at Boston Children’s and is the premier investigator worldwide in environmental control of pediatric asthma. She transformed environmental care for pediatric asthma by showing that school exposures drive asthma morbidity, and that school pest management ameliorates asthma for inner-city children. She dispelled the concern that acetaminophen worsens asthma in young children and provided evidence on the role of home pest management strategies in reducing asthma.

“I have dedicated my career to reducing and preventing asthma and allergic diseases,” says Dr. Phipatanakul. “It is a privilege to join this group of distinguished scientists, and I look forward to supporting each other and future generations in this amazing honor society.”

Dr. Vijay Sankaran

Read Dr. Sankaran's bio.

Dr. Sankaran is the Lodish Family Chair in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children's and uses human genetics to understand blood cell production, hemoglobin gene regulation, and how this goes awry in disease. He was part of a team which showed that suppressing a gene called BCL11A could restart fetal hemoglobin production, leading to a pilot gene therapy treatment for sickle cell disease. He identified genetic risk factors that predispose people to acquiring bone marrow disorders called myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), and has been working on targeting GATA1 to regulate red blood cell production in Diamond-Blackfan anemia.

“I hope to improve the treatments available for many of our patients with blood disorders and cancers, and it is humbling to see some of our early findings already leading to potentially curative therapies,” says Dr. Sankaran. “It is a tremendous honor to be elected to the AAP, and it is particularly meaningful to me as many of my heroes and mentors are or have been members of this society.”

Join us in congratulating our outstanding physician-scientists!