There will be blood: Human genetic studies of blood production and disease
Every second, without thinking, our bodies produce millions of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. If this process goes awry, devastating blood disorders can occur, including anemia and leukemia. Vijay Sankaran is interested in how this process happens normally and how it can be perturbed in disease. He will discuss work from his laboratory that provides insight into the process of blood cell production, and talk about how these findings are leading to the development of improved treatments for blood diseases such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
Vijay Sankaran is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, an attending physician at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, and an associate member of the Broad Institute.
Sankaran received his B.A. degree in biochemistry summa cum laude and with honors from the University of Pennsylvania with a concomitant M.S. degree. He went on to get an M.Phil. degree in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, and earned his M.D. magna cum laude and Ph.D. in genetics at Harvard Medical School in 2010. He then received training as a house officer in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center and as a fellow in hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. While receiving clinical training, Sankaran also performed postdoctoral research as a visiting scholar at the Broad and Whitehead Institutes in Cambridge. Sankaran is a practicing pediatric hematologist caring for patients with red blood cell and bone marrow failure disorders.
Sankaran’s laboratory uses human genetics to gain an improved understanding of hematopoiesis. Members of the laboratory perform whole exome and genome sequencing, coupled to functional follow-up approaches, to study rare mutations that result in blood disorders. The laboratory team has also utilized genome-wide association studies and follow-up functional studies to gain important insight into blood cell formation. The laboratory has identified key regulators of the fetal-to-adult hemoglobin switch and defined a number of mutations causing congenital forms of anemia.
Sankaran has received numerous awards, most recently the 2015 Young Investigator Award from the Society for Pediatric Research, the 2015 Rising Star Award from Boston Children’s Hospital, and the 2016 Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Experimental Hematology. Sankaran has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles in journals including The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Nature Medicine, Science, Cell, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Cell Stem Cell, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.