(WASHINGTON, July 22, 2014) -- The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will present the Society's highest honor, the 2014 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, to Kanti R. Rai, MD, of the Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) School of Medicine for his 50-year career combining landmark clinical leukemia research, steadfast commitment to education and mentoring, and exceptional patient care.
The Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology is bestowed on an individual who has been a vital contributor to the field of hematology, demonstrating lifetime achievement and leadership in research, education, and practice. ASH President Linda J. Burns, MD, of the University of Minnesota will present Dr. Rai with his award on Sunday, December 7, during the 56th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.
Dr. Rai is currently the Chief of the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Research and Treatment Program at North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute, an Investigator at the Peter Karches Center for CLL of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and Joel Finkelstein Cancer Foundation Professor of Medicine at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, where he also holds the title of Professor of Molecular Medicine. He is an international leader in the clinical evaluation and management of patients with CLL and his research in the field of CLL has pioneered contemporary approaches to this disease. Dr. Rai has been involved in diagnosing and treating CLL for almost 40 years and his publication of the "Rai" prognostic categorization of CLL in Blood in 1975 was a seminal paper incorporating basic clinical findings into a powerful prognostic schema that continues to be used by physicians and clinical investigators today. Through a longtime collaboration with Nicholas Chiorazzi, MD, and other CLL scientists at the Feinstein Institute, Dr. Rai and colleagues helped to establish the importance of fludarabine, now a standard-of-care treatment for CLL, and demonstrated the effectiveness of cladribine in treating hairy cell leukemia. Dr. Rai has published more than 200 original papers and book chapters.
Dr. Rai remains well-known for his creativity as a physician- investigator and continues to be intrigued by the heterogenous nature of follicular lymphoma and CLL. His most recent interests include the study of the natural history of human leukemias and the molecular biology of CLL, as well as the study and identification of promising new agents in the treatment of CLL.
While Dr. Rai has made many important contributions to academic medicine, he remains calm and humble in his approach to both patient care and teaching. He is characterized by his colleagues as the "quintessential clinician" and celebrated for his leadership in clinical decision making while maintaining a deep concern for and generosity toward his several hundred CLL patients. He has provided the same care and attention to many generations of medical students, residents, fellows, and senior faculty. In addition to his accomplishments in research, clinical practice, and teaching, Dr. Rai has served in many leadership roles for ASH, including as 2006 ASH President. He has served as a member or chair of several Society committees and educational programs and currently serves as a member of the ASH Foundation and Development Committee.
The Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology commemorates the innovative spirit, visionary leadership, and entrepreneurship of Wallace Henry Coulter, who was an inventor most widely known for the development of the Coulter Principle – an established methodology for counting, measuring, and evaluating cells and microscopic particles suspended in fluid. Mr. Coulter's revolutionary technique provided the medical community with a new method for screening diseases through basic blood tests. The significance of Mr. Coulter's research is commemorated each year, through the prestige of this award.
"With his unwavering commitment to hematology spanning more than five decades and his innumerable contributions to the field and to ASH, Dr. Rai exemplifies the values of the Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology," said ASH President Linda J. Burns, MD, of the University of Minnesota. "From the Rai staging system to his many clinical contributions, Dr. Rai is internationally synonymous with CLL, which serves as a testament to the great impact of his career on legions of colleagues, trainees, and patients."
Dr. Rai began his medical career in 1955 after earning his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Rajputana in Jaipur, India. Following medical school, Dr. Rai completed his internship in India at S.M.S. Medical College. In 1957, he came to New York City to begin his residency training in Pediatrics at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx and immediately thereafter assumed the role of Chief Resident in Pediatrics at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. Following his Pediatrics residency, he completed his fellowship in Nuclear Medicine and Hematology at the Long Island Jewish Hospital and later joined the Hematology research team of Eugene P. Cronkite, MD, (1971 ASH President) at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island. Dr. Rai returned to India in 1962 to serve as Chief of the Division of Experimental Medicine of the Institute of Nuclear Medicine in New Delhi. After four years in New Delhi, he returned to Brookhaven, and, in 1970, returned to Long Island Jewish Hospital where he has remained ever since.
Beyond his involvement with ASH, Dr. Rai is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the New York Society for the Study of Blood, the New York Academy of Medicine, the Harvey Society, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Henry Kunkel Society. His most recent awards include the 2011 Physician of Distinction award from the Long Island chapter of the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2012 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture.
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is the world's largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 50 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy. The official journal of ASH is Blood, the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online.