The Hematopoiesis Section studies the process by which red blood cells are formed. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body and healthy adults have 20 to 30 trillion red blood cells in their circulatory system. Because red blood cells have a lifespan of about four months, healthy adults must produce 2.4 million red blood cells every second to maintain these numbers. People who cannot generate enough red blood cells may develop a disease called anemia. People with moderate anemia may have difficulty maintaining an active lifestyle; severe anemia is life threatening. Anemia can be a consequence of poor diet or other causes, such as chemotherapy for cancer, but it can also be inherited. Some kinds of anemia can be treated with red blood cell transfusions, but other types of anemia are more complicated to treat. Worldwide, almost half of the population will be anemic at one or more times in their lives.
The Hematopoiesis Section is working on two approaches to understanding the process of red blood cell production in the hopes of developing new treatments for anemia. The production of red blood cells happens in the bone marrow, where hematopoietic stem cells, the parent cells of all blood cells, are located. In the first approach, Hematopoiesis Section researchers study how genes instruct bone marrow cells to become red blood cells. For this, undeveloped red blood cells are isolated and all 20,000 genes are examined to find clues about how the critical genes for red cell production become active. In the second approach, the Hematopoiesis Section is studying Diamond Blackfan anemia (DBA), an inherited disease in which patients fail to make red blood cells. In this project, Hematopoiesis Section researchers are determining how gene alterations in DBA patients cause red blood cell production to stop. At the same time the Hematopoiesis Section is developing tools to identify drugs that can restart red blood cell production in DBA patients. These drugs may also be effective for other more common forms of anemia.
Dr. David Bodine, Ph.D., received his undergraduate degree from Colby College in 1976, a master's degree in human genetics from Rutgers in 1977 and a Ph.D. from the University of Maine in 1984 for his work at the Jackson Laboratory. After postdoctoral work at NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in 1993 Dr. Bodine founded the Hematopoiesis Section in the newly formed Intramural Research Program of NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). In 1995, Dr. Bodine was promoted to senior investigator with tenure at NHGRI, and in 2006 was named chief of NHGRI's Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch.
Dr. Bodine has won numerous awards during his career. As an undergraduate, he received the Webster Chester Biology prize, and he was awarded postdoctoral fellowships from the NIH and the Cooley's Anemia Foundation. He received the Daniella Marie Arturi Foundation Pioneer Award in 2012 and an honorary degree from Colby College in 2013.
Dr. Bodine has served as the president of the American Society of Gene Therapy and counselor to the American Society of Hematology, and he is currently an associate editor for the journal Blood. Having benefited from outstanding mentoring during his career, Dr. Bodine consequently has made mentoring his trainees a priority. In recognition of these efforts, Dr. Bodine was named 2004 NIH Mentor of the Year, and he has been named NHGRI Mentor of the Year three times, most recently in 2012.
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Last Updated: January 5, 2015