A pioneer in stem cell transplantation across Latin America
DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden (DKMS Foundation for Giving Life) honors Professor Ricardo Pasquini’s outstanding achievements in hematology with the DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award 2022. The Brazilian physician pioneered hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Brazil and Latin America, and with his work on aplastic anemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia, he has made seminal contributions to the international development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Pasquini is the 21st recipient of the annual €10,000 prize, which recognizes excellent scientific work of internationally renowned physicians in the field of stem cell donation and transplantation.
Innovative scientific research is vital in helping to understand blood cancer treatment and to improve patients’ outcome. At the same time, a pioneering spirit is a key factor to provide patients with access to treatment. “It is a great pleasure for us to honor Ricardo Pasquini’s contribution to advancing the practice across Latin America. In 1979, he performed the first successful transplantation on a patient with aplastic anemia in Brazil and founded the transplant center in Curitiba which became the largest program on the continent under his leadership. As a visionary pioneer he inspired the foundation of subsequent transplant centers across Latin America. To this day, his efforts and his research have a significant impact on the lives of patients with blood cancer and other blood disorders such as aplastic anemia and Fanconi anemia,” said Professor Thomas Klingebiel, Vice Chairman of the DKMS Medical Council, during his laudation at the opening ceremony of the 26th SBMTO Congress (Brazilian Society of Bone Marrow Transplantation) in São Paulo.
Ricardo Pasquini is Emeritus Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology at the Federal University of Paraná in Curitiba. He has been the Head of the Department of Internal Medicine and thereafter Head of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the university hospital for almost 30 years. At the same institution Pasquini successfully established the Bone Marrow Transplant Center that achieved excellence in research and clinical care and became a reference center for training personnel from other centers in Brazil and other South American countries. Under his direction the center has provided top-level care for patients from diagnosis to treatment and still continues to do so. became a reference site
In 1993, his team was responsible for the first transplantation of umbilical cord blood stem cells in Latin America, and in 1995 he performed the first transplantation from an unrelated donor in Brazil. Over the course of his long career, the founding member of the Brazilian Society of Bone Marrow Transplantation trained generations of specialists who have become international leaders in their field.
Since his early years, his research has paved the way for the treatment of patients with congenital or acquired bone marrow failure such as aplastic anemia or Fanconi anemia. His publications on blood stem cell transplantation in this type of patient are a worldwide reference. In addition, he has contributed to improving therapeutic options for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients over the last decade of his career. In doing so, he has been involved in several international clinical trials on the efficacy of various tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Pasquini is co-editor of three books, two on hematology and one on bone marrow transplantation, and has published more than 220 peer-reviewed papers in international medical journals such as Blood and The New England Journal of Medicine.
“It is a great honor for me to receive the award and I am grateful to be acknowledged by DKMS. I accept this award with deep gratitude to my colleagues, without whom my life’s work achievements would not have been possible,” said Professor Ricardo Pasquini.
“DKMS is highly committed to save as many patients’ lives as possible. While new and innovative approaches help to increase the chances of success for patients, it is at the same time also necessary to ensure access to these therapies. There are still too many people around the world in urgent need of help – and there are still too many patients dying. We have to continue to work together to give more patients a second chance at life,” added Thomas Klingebiel.
The award is named after Mechtild Harf, mother of two, who suffered from leukemia and passed away in 1991. Her husband, Peter Harf, founded DKMS that same year. DKMS has since grown to become one of the leading international organizations dedicated to saving the lives of patients with blood cancer with a multifaceted approach.