“… that’s what’s so wonderful about hematology: it is frequently the first place where you can apply the newest science to understand and to treat better human diseases.” – Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD
I decided to specialize in hematology in part because I was very interested in combining a career in research with a career in clinical care. My particular research interests in the late 1960s and early 1970s were in the brand new field that we now call molecular medicine, molecular genetics, and molecular biology. There were very few ways that you could even think about using those approaches to study human patients with disease. The field of hemoglobin diseases was ready for the application of those methods, so it was a natural for me to be able to combine my burning interest in molecular research with a set of very important and serious diseases where I could take care of people.
What’s so wonderful about hematology is that it’s frequently the first place where you can apply the newest science to understand and to better treat human diseases. The major new areas are those that use new genomic technologies to be able to characterize diseases, to find targets for therapy, and to develop better biomarkers that allow you to predict in a much more precise way how patients will do and what treatments might be most effective for them. Hematology’s always been at the forefront of stem cell biology—after all, the only stem cell therapies that are proven to be effective in clinical medicine are in the use of stem cell transplants by hematologists, largely for hematologic diseases. The developments now in the use of engineered stem cells, whether directly for therapy or as forms of immune modulation, are extremely exciting new areas.
First of all, we are fortunate to get among the best contributors that it’s possible to get in the entire world for the areas that we cover in Hematology. Secondly, we cover hematology comprehensively. Third, I think that we have been unique in being able to combine material that is both able to put the reader at the cutting edge of hematology research, but still to say very clinically relevant, so that you get what you need to know to take care of your patient, but you also learn a lot about where the field is, and where it’s going moving forward. Some of the innovations that have been in the book from the very beginning but have been refined in this last edition include the so-called “pink boxes” that serve as a sort of consultant’s corner and offer insights into how our authors would deal with particularly nettlesome problems in hematology. Those are an innovation that has just gotten better and better as we’ve become more experienced with it.
I think that people considering what they’d like to do with their careers in medicine really should think about hematology. It has a great future. There’s a great shortage of people capable of doing what hematologists have done traditionally –taking care of the conditions that are caused by disorders in the blood forming organs — so there’ll be a demand for your services. Second, there’s no better place to be when new scientific developments become relevant to clinical medicine, because hematologic diseases lend themselves to exploiting the latest and greatest scientific discoveries. So it’s an ideal place, particularly for people who want to combine investigation with the care of patients.
Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD is president and chief executive officer of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, CEO of Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care as well as Principal Investigator and Director of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Care and a member of the Governing Board of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. An internationally recognized hematologist, Dr. Benz received his training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, and the Yale School of Medicine. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hematology.
Dr. Benz continues to be an active NIH funded investigator. He has authored over 300 peer reviewed articles, reviews, chapters and abstracts. He is a co-editor of Hematology, 6th edition. He is an associate editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Benz’ accomplishments have been recognized by a number of distinctions, including membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Science. He is a past president of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Cancer Institutes.