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Leonard Zon, MD, honored by the American Society of Hematology for Outstanding Mentorship

Leonard Zon, MD

Leonard Zon, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, will be recognized by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) with the 2019 ASH Mentor Award for his sustained, outstanding commitment to the training and career development of early-career hematologists.

ASH President Roy Silverstein, MD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, will present this award to Zon on Sunday, December 8, 2019, during the 61st ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, Florida. He said in a recent press release issued by ASH that Zon “embodies the characteristics desired of a hematology mentor” as a “committed, selfless, and approachable teacher and leader.”

The ASH Mentor Award recognizes hematologists who have excelled in mentoring trainees and colleagues. Each year, ASH recognizes two outstanding mentors in the areas of basic science, clinical investigation, education, or clinical/community care who have had a significant, positive impact on their mentees’ careers and, through their mentees, have advanced research and patient care in the field of hematology.

“This is truly an amazing honor,” said Zon. “I have always felt that mentoring was one of the most important aspects of being a physician-scientist. It takes extra time to provide mentorship, and it is wonderful to be appreciated.”

Zon is being recognized for his outstanding track record of mentees who have gone on to establish their own funded laboratories or clinical programs. He is currently the Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University. He is also the director of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Zon is well-known for his work on hematopoiesis and the use of zebrafish as a model, and he has received several awards, including the ASH E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize in 2010.

“I had amazing mentoring from Stu Orkin, Sam Lux, David Nathan, Allan Erslev, and Jerry Groopman,” said Zon. “Stu Orkin and Sam Lux, both from Boston Children’s Hospital, have won the Mentor Award. So, I was taught that mentoring was important. Just like hematopoiesis, lineage matters, and I have been lucky to train with great people.”

He added, “Every mentor has their own methods. I took the best of my mentors and mixed in a little of my personality and that seems to work best.”

Zon enjoys mentoring people at all stages of their careers, from students and technicians to faculty members. He organizes events such as a postdoctoral mentoring breakfast and graduate student lunch to discuss various aspects of building a career in research and “technician’s tea” to make sure everyone in his laboratory is getting the mentorship they need. Zon has developed core modules focused on topics such as developing a budget for a lab, practicing an elevator pitch, presenting at a meeting, and writing a grant. He also created a game played at his laboratory retreats called “You be the PI” in which a postdoctoral student reads a sample case of a real-life issue that has arisen in the laboratory and discusses potential solutions. Additionally, Zon has annual one-on-one career meetings with his postdoctoral fellows to discuss career goals, review training plans, and identify specific opportunities for improvement.

Megan Insco, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Zon lab commented, "I have found that Len has an incredible 'joy of life.’ This energy, along with his focus on teaching management as well as scientific skills, have helped me to transform my scientific and leadership skills. Despite mentoring more than 40 individuals, he effectively maintains a fantastic culture and an open-door policy in lab."

About The American Society of Hematology (ASH)

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) ( is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For 60 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood (, the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online, as well as the newly launched, online, peer-reviewed open-access journal, Blood Advances (