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Department of Medicine Researcher Awarded Prestigious Bayer Grant for Hemophilia Research

Dr. Ai-Hong Zhang (far right) was presented the 2017 Bayer Hemophilia Award for his research on Factor VIII, an essential blood-clotting protein.  Zhang is a research assistant professor in USU’s Department of Medicine.  (Image Credit: Bayer)
By Sharon Holland

Dr. Ai-Hong Zhang, a research assistant professor and Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine contract employee in the Uniformed Services University’s Department of Medicine, was presented the 2017 Bayer Hemophilia Award at the International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis 2017 Congress in Berlin, Germany, July 10.

Bayer awarded grants totaling more than $2 million to 16 recipients across eight countries. Zhang was among four U.S. scientists, to receive the award for research in hemophilia.

“Being selected as a 2017 Bayer Hemophilia Award Program (BHAP) award recipient, among such a high standard of entrants, is a huge honor and shows the research interest in hemophilia,” said Zhang, who received the Special Project award. “My particular research will focus on investigating a novel strategy to promote anti-FVIII inhibitor development which, with continued funding from government and industry supporters such as Bayer, I hope will contribute to improving understanding in the medical community and ultimately benefit the hemophilia community.”

BHAP award recipients are selected by a global panel of distinguished hemophilia clinicians, researchers and caregivers. The award recognizes and supports innovative research and educational initiatives to benefit the hemophilia community.

Hemophilia is a rare genetic blood disorder. Individuals with hemophilia lack the proteins needed to properly clot their blood, which can cause them to bleed severely from even a minor injury. The condition is typically caused by a hereditary lack of a coagulation factor, most often factor VIII, an essential blood-clotting protein. The two most common types are Hemophilia A, which is a deficiency of factor VIII, and Hemophilia B, which is a deficiency of coagulation factor IX, another blood-clotting protein.

Although hemophilia is a disqualifying factor for military service and found primarily in civilian practice, having a basic or foundational understanding of clotting factors and abnormal clotting conditions such as hemophilia helps to provide insight for the military and its blood research program, as well as its efforts to prevent or treat coagulopathy that stems from severe injury or trauma.

"Dr Zhang's work reflects the ongoing and productive focus on basic mechanisms in immunology developed in the Department of Medicine under Professor David Scott, and we are extremely pleased that Bayer has recognized him and this research with this prestigious award," said Dr. Louis Pangaro, chair of USU’s Department of Medicine.

"We are delighted to see Dr. Zhang win this research award.  In addition to his research, this award also validates the emphasis we place on faculty development," said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, USU F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine dean .