Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
During his postdoctoral research, Dr. Shlush examined genes commonly mutated in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), successfully identifying those “pre-leukemic” stem cells that go on to form cancerous cells. In his more recent work, Dr. Shlush used population-wide medical data available through a large repository of electronic health records (the Weizmann-Clalit project), along with deep sequencing techniques, to characterize the genes frequently mutated in the peripheral blood cells of individuals who later developed AML. Not only did this work form the basis of a model that accurately predicted AML-free survival, it also led to a model for identifying healthy individuals who are at risk for developing AML in the future. This research by Dr. Shlush and his colleagues represents a paradigm shifting in AML, which has long been considered as an unpredictable and unpreventable disease. It will also generate an enthusiasm toward the possibility of AML prevention through early intervention in a high-risk population.