HomeScienceGeneticsAfter major advancements in hematology, David Bodine retires with a view to...

After major advancements in hematology, David Bodine retires with a view to mentorship and a garden

When David M. Bodine, Ph.D., arrived at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a postdoctoral fellowship in Arthur Nienhuis’ lab at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, he thought he’d only be staying for a year . or two and then go elsewhere to start his own research group.

Two years passed. And then his enjoyment of the science, resources, mentorship and local collegiality led to another 36 years. At that time, Dr. Bodine joined the Department of Hematopoiesis at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and was later named chief of NHGRI’s Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Bodine’s scientific career first took off in college, when two professors recognized his interest in biology. Those professors became his mentors and felt his potential was beyond what Dr. Bodine considered a substandard academic record. These mentors nurtured his interest and ability in research, and through their guidance and encouragement, Dr. Bodine saw the growing opportunities in science and embarked on what would become an impressive research career.

After graduating from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in 1976, Dr. Bodine received a master’s degree from Rutgers University. He then earned a Ph.D. at the Jackson Laboratory, where he began studying blood cell diseases. Such diseases would later become the focus of his scientific endeavors at NIH.

Throughout his career, Dr. Bodine advances the genetic understanding of blood disorders and opens avenues for more effective treatments. Among his contributions, he identified the genomic mutations that cause Diamond Blackfan anemia, a condition in which patients cannot produce enough red blood cells. Each new piece of the genetic puzzle helps diagnose more patients with this condition on a molecular level, expanding patients’ options for the bone marrow donations needed for treatment.

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Dr. Bodine has contributed to both biological insights about disease-causing mutations and the ability to overcome the effects of such mutations through gene therapy. He participated in the first successful gene transfer studies in a primate, an important step in the development of gene therapies for human use.

Throughout his scientific career, Dr. Bodine strived to create the same positive impact for his interns that his mentors created for him. His efforts have not escaped recognition as he has been named NHGRI Mentor of the Year three times, the NHGRI record for this award.

With a sense of humor and a vision for the future, Dr. Bodine reflected on his career, mentorship, and the fields of gene therapy and hematology in a recent interview with science writer Anna Rogers.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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