MINNEAPOLIS, MN- September 16, 2019 – University of Minnesota Medical School Student Anna Wojcicki has been selected by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) as one of 22 medical students to participate in the 2019 ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP). This program encourages underrepresented minority medical students to pursue careers in hematology by supporting them as they conduct their own hematology-related research projects under the guidance of a research mentor.

Wojcicki became interested in the field of hematology after being diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder as a teenager, which ultimately led her to pursue a career in medicine. Last summer, she participated in sickle cell research through the Heart, Lung and Blood Regeneration Program at the U of M Medical School. During this time working under Gregory Vercellotti, MD, FACP, who is a Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation at the U of M Medical School, Wojcicki was inspired to apply for the MMSAP.

With this award, she will receive $42,000 and conduct translational research at Stanford University during a year-long program under the mentorship of Kathleen Sakamoto, MD, PhD, who is a Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. She will also be paired with a career-development mentor as well as receive ASH membership throughout medical school and residency.

“I am drawn to the field of hematology/oncology for the ability to serve a diverse patient population, support patients at extremely difficult periods in their lives and contribute to the generation of knowledge for better outcomes,” said Wojcicki. “I am excited about the work we are doing in the Sakamoto lab to develop new therapies for acute myeloid leukemia and repurpose old drugs for new uses. Receiving the ASH MMSAP has strengthened my commitment to research and will hopefully lay the groundwork for a successful career in hematology.”

“Our goal is to introduce underrepresented minority medical students to hematology early in their careers,” said 2019 ASH President Roy Silverstein, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “By providing them with the tools they need for professional advancement, we can prepare them to be future leaders.” 

Wojcicki’s research project is titled, “Repurposing Niclosamide for the Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.” With a focus on Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), she will be working to find novel inhibitors of the protein CREB, which is overexpressed in AML. The ultimate goal is to find new targets that could potentially be used to develop drugs for the treatment of AML.

She will present her research findings in December of 2020 at the Promoting Minorities in Hematology event during the 62nd ASH Annual Meeting.

After completion of the program in May of 2020, she will return to her third year of rotations at the U of M Medical School.

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Contact: Kelly Glynn
Media Relations Coordinator, University of Minnesota Medical School