UF College of Pharmacy trainees earn abstract achievement awards at ASH Annual Meeting

A trio of trainees from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy have secured abstract achievement awards at the 2023 American Society of Hematology, or ASH, Annual Meeting, Dec. 9-12, in San Diego.

The UF College of Pharmacy trainees who earned abstract achievement awards included (from l to r) Nam Nguyen, Richard Marrero and Francisco Marchi.

Francisco Marchi and Richard Marrero, Pharm.D., received a Minority Graduate Student Abstract Achievement Award, while Nam Nguyen, Pharm.D., received an Abstract Achievement Award. All three graduate students train under the direction of Jatinder Lamba, Ph.D., M.Sc., a professor and the associate dean for research and graduate education in the UF College of Pharmacy and the Frank A. Duckworth Eminent Scholar Chair.

Marchi’s abstract “The Methylome Atlas of Acute Leukemia Enables Novel Clinical Diagnostic Tool for AML,” was selected for an oral presentation. The study presents the largest public collection of DNA methylation data from acute leukemia patients while aiming to improve the classification of various subtypes of the disease. Marchi has used advanced data analysis to create a detailed map of the disease’s epigenomic landscape, which helps distinguish between different forms of leukemia more accurately than before. The method has the potential to be a promising avenue for clinical diagnosis and prognosis of acute leukemias.

The title of Marrero’s abstract is “Genome-wide Association Study (GWAS) Identifies Variants Associated with Minimal Residual Disease after Induction I (MRD-1) in Pediatric Patients with Newly Diagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukemia.” The study is one of the largest genome-wide association studies conducted in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, patients to identify prognostic markers associated with initial response to chemotherapy treatment. It aims to unravel the role of common genetic variants and their impact on treatment outcomes. Marrero’s findings have the potential to unveil prognostic markers, paving the way for personalized targeted therapies and enhancing clinical outcomes for AML patients.

Nguyen’s abstract is titled, “CRISPR/Cas9 Screen Identifies CPX-351 and 7+3 Regimens Response Modulators with Distinct Sensitive and Resistant Profiles.” CPX-351 is an FDA-approved treatment for newly diagnosed high-risk and secondary AML patients as an alternative to the widely used cytarabine and daunorubicin (7+3) regimen. Despite newly approved drugs, many AML patients still develop treatment resistance and relapse, leading to poor survival rates. To overcome treatment resistance, Nguyen’s project aims to examine the molecular mechanisms underlying the CPX-351 and 7+3 treatment response through clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR, screens.

ASH presents abstract achievement awards to first or senior author trainees with the highest-scoring abstracts at the annual meeting. The Minority Graduate Student Abstract Achievement Award goes to select graduate students to honor their research accomplishments as well as to recruit and retain underrepresented minority graduate students in the field of hematology. For Marrero, it is the third consecutive year he has won an ASH abstract award. Marchi previously won the award in 2022 and Nguyen was honored in 2021 and 2020.

Additionally, trainees Phani Krishna Parcha and Satya Nittu from Lamba’s lab presented their work at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting. The UF College of Pharmacy was well represented at the ASH meeting with three oral and five poster presentations.