Leading the Way in Hemophilia Research

Jordan Shavit, MD, PhD, pays forward the support he’s received from NHF

Today, Jordan Shavit, MD, PhD, is an associate professor and the Henry and Mala Dorfman Family professor of pediatric hematology/oncology in the Department of Pediatrics at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor. He’s also the principal investigator of the Shavit Laboratory. But in 2005, he was a postdoctoral fellow finishing his traditional pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship who wanted to extend his time training in hemophilia and coagulation disorders.

So he applied for and received a fellowship from what was then called the NHF-Baxter Clinical Fellowship Program, now the NHF-Takeda Clinical Fellowship Program, allowing him to stay on with his postdoctoral mentor at the University of Michigan from 2006 to 2008. It was a critical time for Shavit as he sought to build an independent career.

“The clinical fellowship helped get me through that time,” he says. As it turned out, the clinical fellowship was just the beginning of his involvement with a range of National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) research grant programs.

At the end of his NHF clinical fellowship, Shavit received an independent faculty appointment as an assistant professor and opened the Shavit Laboratory in 2009. He and his team research the role of genetic modifiers in bleeding and clotting disorders using zebra fish models. Key funding for this work came from another NHF grant, the Career Development Award, which Shavit received in 2011.

“At that time in a career, it’s particularly difficult to get funding,” Shavit says. “Institutions are looking at you to get NIH funding, but it usually takes a couple of years of getting your own independent papers out, and maybe a few tries of applications. So having a career development award like NHF’s really helps to keep things going during that process.”

As Shavit became more established, his attention turned to mentoring those following behind. He says his own professional mentors greatly influenced his approach to this crucial work.

Shavit has mentored awardees of NHF’s Judith Graham Pool Postdoctoral Research Fellowships and has been a primary mentor for NHF-Takeda clinical fellows. As rewarding as it has been for him to benefit from these programs, Shavit says it’s equally satisfying to help others reap their rewards. “I love to see people be successful and move on and continue the work,” he says.

Ultimately, Shavit says, NHF’s long-standing commitment to the grant programs it funds and administers has benefited not just individual hematology/oncology researchers but also the field as a whole. “It’s just amazing when I’ve gone and looked at the list of people who were supported in the past,” he says. “It’s a really distinguished group, and I’m proud to be part of that.”