Clara D. Bloomfield dedicated her career to finding new treatments for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and related disorders. To continue the work of its longtime faculty member, Ohio State University (OSU) has named its leukemia research center in honor of the late scientist.
The Clara D. Bloomfield Center for Leukemia Outcomes Research has been established at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center — Arthur G. James and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), which supported the new center with an initial $5 million commitment.
The Bloomfield center will focus on investigations in hematologic cancers, including acute leukemias, clonal hematopoiesis, and myelodysplastic syndromes. In addition, it will enhance and provide scientific access to a database established by Bloomfield of more than 1,500 AML patients, promoting new research collaborations.
The database contains detailed genomic and clinical outcome data, culled from national collaborative clinical trial group research. The data have been used in research that has led to better AML treatment candidates and to clinicians’ and scientists’ understanding of disease prognoses.
“National and international collaborations and data sharing are more important than ever in order to benefit our patients and learn more about the disease,” Kathrin Eisfeld, MD, said in a press release. Eisfeld is a hematologist with the OSUCCC – James Leukemia Research Program. “This new center will further expand the existing data collection to patients treated at the OSUCCC – James over the past decade, which will allow for the analyses of patients treated with novel therapeutic options.”
The new center will be led by Eisfeld and John C. Byrd, MD, a distinguished professor in the division of hematology and co-leader of the OSUCCC – James Leukemia Research Program. Bloomfield mentored Eisfeld and Byrd.
“Along with her pioneering research, one of Dr. Bloomfield’s greatest attributes — and one that she was most proud of — was her endearing mentorship and fierce advocacy for junior faculty,” Byrd said. “The list of successful faculty whom she mentored is long. Justice by gender and race was a critical part of her work. She was a sage mentor for faculty and staff — even for the most senior among us.”
Bloomfield, a medical doctor and OSU faculty member for 23 years, died in March at age 77. She served as a distinguished university professor and held the William Greenville Pace III Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. Bloomfield also served as a cancer scholar and senior adviser to the OSUCCC — James, and was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine.
In work that spanned nearly 50 years, Bloomfield had a significant impact on research globally. Through a science-based, risk-stratified therapeutic approach, her research ultimately upended treatment for patients with AML and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Bloomfield’s work also led to the use of cytogenetic (related to the study of chromosomes) and molecular genetic findings in the diagnosis of acute leukemias, a practice subsequently included in the 2001 World Health Organization classification of hematopoietic and lymphoid tumors. She also did extensive work in patient management in hematologic malignancies.
Earlier in her career, Bloomfield showed the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment in adults with acute leukemia. And, in a forerunner to precision medicine, she also demonstrated that biomarkers, including chromosomal abnormalities, can be used to predict outcomes, and to tailor treatments in acute leukemia and lymphoma.
Bloomfield also contributed to trials conducted by Cancer and Leukemia Group B, a U.S. cancer research cooperative. Her work ensured high-quality data for clinical and translational studies, and improved leukemia karyotyping — testing to examine chromosomes in cell samples — in the U.S.
She also identified multiple chromosome changes important to prognoses in leukemia and lymphoma, and was widely considered the global authority on how chromosome changes, specific gene mutations, and gene expression — the process by which information in a gene is synthesized to create a protein — changes affect treatment and outcomes in adult leukemia.