University of Maryland School of Medicine
Associate Dean of Research, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Director, Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine
Leukemia is a great success story for cancer research — one in which Dr. Curt Civin played an important role. His early work on bone marrow stem cell transplantation was partially responsible for the dramatic increase of the five-year survival for all types of leukemia over the past 20 years.
Dr. Civin discovered CD34, the first – and still best – marker of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells ever found. His subsequent isolation of CD34+ stem cells opened entirely new approaches to leukemia treatment. The CD34+ transplantation technology, created by a team of scientists in Dr. Civin’s laboratory, has been widely applied and thousands of patients’ lives have been saved because of this approach to treating cancer.
And now, for patients still suffering from certain leukemias that are difficult to treat and waiting for a cure, Dr. Civin’s current research may once again hold the key. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the deadliest form of leukemia, and Dr. Civin recently discovered that artemisinins – a class of drugs with low toxicity used to successfully treat malaria – are also effective in killing AML cancer cells. Through research, he identified ART-838, a specific artemisinin compound that shows remarkable preliminary effectiveness against leukemia cells and works well in combination with established anti-leukemia drugs. In addition, the compound can be given orally and stays active in the bloodstream for a long time. Plus, it doesn’t appear to harm normal bone marrow cells, so it may prove to be an effective new treatment for AML patients.
Curt Civin, M.D., is the Associate Dean for Research and the Founding Director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Civin graduated from Amherst College in 1970 before attending Harvard Medical School and completing fellowships in pediatric oncology with the National Cancer Institute.
Prior to joining the University of Maryland’s faculty, Dr. Civin spent 30 years at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine leading research and clinical pediatric oncology.
In addition to holding 21 biomedical patents, Dr. Civin’s 1984 discovery of CD34 earned him the National Inventor of the Year Award in 1999.