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Bernard G. Forget Hematology Scholars Program Supported by Friends who Give

May 25, 2021

Mary Alice and Thomas O’Malley’s recent gift to support Yale’s Bernard G. Forget Hematology Scholars Program is rooted in multiple friendships.

The couple learned about the program from their friend Alan Lebowitz, MD., who was Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine and is a retired Connecticut hematologist. Dr. Lebowitz, a champion of Yale Cancer Center, was also a close friend of the Scholars Program’s late namesake.

Longtime generous supporters of health care and education, the O’Malleys see in the Forget Scholars Program an opportunity to support early-career hematologists following a path paved by Dr. Forget, who the American Journal of Hematology called “one of the most important figures in American hematology.”

A renowned professor of medicine and genetics, the erudite Dr. Forget made pioneering contributions to the study of red cells, hemoglobin, and genetics of blood disorders. During his long and distinguished career, he served in several leadership positions at Yale, including section chief of hematology and associate dean for research at the Yale School of Medicine. At the time, he was one of 10 Yale faculty members named fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Widely known as a passionate teacher, mentor, and physician, Dr. Forget developed Yale’s fellowship program in hematology and cared for hundreds of patients before he died in 2015.

“Bernie was a super doctor — brilliant, generous, curious, kind,” said Dr. Lebowitz. “He was beloved by everyone: colleagues, students, patients, family, and friends. The Forget Hematology Scholars Program honors his mark on the world by enabling young hematologists to drive exciting new ideas and advances in science and medicine. I am delighted that my dear friends Mary Alice and Tom are helping to carry forward Bernard’s tremendous legacy.”

Stephanie Halene, MD, PhD, knows this legacy well. Chief of Hematology at Yale Cancer Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital, and the Yale School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine, Dr. Halene trained with Dr. Forget in the early aughts.

“I had the pleasure of practicing with Bernie and working with Alan, when he worked in the clinic alongside hematology fellows” she said. “Both men have had an influence on many of today’s leading hematologists. And since Bernie passed, Alan has been a true partner in growing the Scholars Program in memory of his friend and colleague.”

The Forget Fellowship provides junior hematologists protected research time to excel in their scientific endeavors. It is a prestigious recognition of the value Yale clinician scientists brings to the field.

Gifts like the O’Malleys’s and support like Alan’s are transformational. There’s a nationwide shortage of hematologists and the Forget Scholars Program enables us to recruit bright physicians and bolster their work.

Dr. Stephanie Halene

“Gifts like the O’Malleys’s and support like Alan’s are transformational,” added Dr. Halene. “There’s a nationwide shortage of hematologists and the Forget Scholars Program enables us to recruit bright physicians and bolster their work.”

One of these talented doctors is Sabrina Browning, MD. The 2020-2021 Forget Scholar, Dr. Browning is the third person awarded the distinction since the program was founded in 2016.

Fascinated with blood since she was a child and received a microscope from her mother, Browning earned her medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She completed her internship and residency at Yale New Haven Hospital, then served as an Amyloid Fellow at the internationally recognized Amyloidosis Center at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center.

Dr. Browning's clinical and research interests include evaluating new treatments and their impact on quality of life in patients with multiple myeloma and AL amyloidosis. She also investigates inherited risk factors for developing the disorders, as well as how to manage classical hematology issues that may occur in patients with these diseases.

The first in her family to pursue a medical career, Dr. Browning feels a particular kinship with the man she never met but whose spirit looms large.

“Dr. Forget embodied everything I want to do as a physician scientist and teacher, and I’m honored to have this opportunity early in my career,” Dr. Browning said. “Being a Forget Scholar has offered me the unique, vital gift of protected time and resources for research that I can then bring back to the clinic and our patients.”

She added, “Often, the rapidity of advancement in science is exciting. And it’s driven in part by people like the O’Malleys, whose visionary support of research can hasten advancements back to patients.”

Submitted by Renee Gaudette on May 25, 2021