University of Illinois Cancer Center member Damiano Rondelli, MD, was presented with the 2022 ASTCT Public Service Award by the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at its Tandem Meetings.
Rondelli, Michael Reese Professor of Hematology, Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology, director of Blood and Marrow Transplant program at UI Health, was cited for his work with the GlobalBMT program that he began at UIC more than 10 years ago. Many countries throughout the world have benefited from this partnership.
“I am honored that the ASTCT has recognized my work,” said Rondelli, a member of the Cancer Center’s Translational Oncology program. “Blood and marrow transplantation is the best therapy – often curative – for patients with many blood malignancies, including leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma, or some solid tumors such as testicular cancer or neuroblastoma in children, as well as severe non-malignant blood disorders, such as aplastic anemia, sickle cell disease or thalassemia.
“I am proud to share this important award with all the international friends who work very hard to make BMT available at low cost in their countries.”
In North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia, about 300 to 500 stem cell transplants are performed annually per 10 million people, Rondelli said. In the remainder of the world – the largest part – the number is between zero to 50. The GlobalBMT Program is focused on building capacity in the low and middle income countries that are interested in developing blood and marrow transplantation and cellular therapy who are seeking support.
UIC’s partnership has been instrumental in establishing the only blood marrow transplant program in Kathmandu, Nepal, in Bangalore, India, a haploidentical transplant program in Cuba, an allogeneic transplantation program in Kyiv, Ukraine (currently halted due to the war), and is actively working to open centers in Bolivia, Nigeria and Greece, Rondelli said. In addition to traveling to each site, physicians from low to middle income countries have been hosted by UIC during two month intervals to learn more about the BMT program.
Rondelli serves as principal investigator of clinical studies in stem cell transplantation for hematologic malignancies, such as high risk leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma, or myelofibrosis, and for patients with sickle cell anemia. A graduate of the Medical School of the University of Bologna, Italy, where he completed his training in hematology, Rondelli has authored more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and multiple book chapters. He came to UIC in 2002 after stints at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Bologna. In 2013 Rondelli was appointed chief of the division of hematology/oncology, after having been director of the Blood Marrow Transplant Program.
The ASTCT is an international professional membership association of more than 3,000 physicians, investigators and other health care professionals from more than 45 countries. Its mission is dedicated to improving the application and success of blood and marrow transplantation and related cellular therapies.