PFDD Faculty Fellows Alumni - 2014






Abner Louissaint, Jr., MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School;
Massachusetts General Hospital

Mentor: Shiv Pillai, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Professor of Health Science Technology, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; Member, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Division Chief: David N. Louis, MD, Benjamin Castleman Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Pathologist-in-Chief, Massachusetts General Hospital

Project Title: Molecular and gene expression-based characterization of pediatric type follicular lymphoma - A novel and prognostically distinct subtype of follicular lymphoma

Project Description:

The objective of this proposal is to define the molecular distinctions between prognostically distinct subsets of limited-stage FL, in order to improve therapeutic algorithms.  Approximately 60% of cases remain localized and never progress, while the remainder of cases ultimately progress to more aggressive lymphoma. Currently, oncologists have no way of distinguishing the cases that will ultimately progress from those that will remain localized.  Nevertheless, 40% of these patients are treated with aggressive chemotherapy on the basis of imprecise algorithms despite the toxicities associated with this treatment. Thus, there is a critical need to obtain more accurate indicators of outcome on which to base therapeutic decisions. We aim to define the gene expression differences and molecular alterations that may distinguish two subgroups of FL – pediatric-type FL (PTFL) and adult-type FL (ATFL) - that we believe are prognostically and biologically distinct. To achieve this goal,  we will first define the specific gene expression differences that distinguish these entities. We will also use targeted sequencing to characterize the mutational landscapes that define and distinguish these entities. The results of this proposal will significantly impact lymphoma management, as it would identify a cohort of patients who may potentially be spared the toxic effects of radiation and/or aggressive chemotherapy. This effort will require the integration of multiple disciplines, including pathology (microscopic diagnosis), hematology/oncology, genomic analysis and biostatistical analysis.  In order to ensure success, I have assembled a team of scientists, pathologists and clinicians who will provide mentorship in each of these areas.


Dr. Abner Louissaint, Jr. graduated in 1997 from Washington University in St. Louis as a John B. Ervin Scholar with concentrations in Biology and English literature.  He received his MD from Weill Cornell Graduate School in 2005 and a PhD in Neuroscience from Weill Graduate School, where he was awarded the Julian Rachelle Award for the best original research paper published by a graduate student.  He came to MGH in 2005, where he completed residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and subsequently completed a fellowship in Hematopathology in 2010.  Dr. Louissaint joined the faculty of MGH Pathology two years ago, where his clinical expertise includes hematopathology and autopsy pathology.  His research interests are focused on lymphoma diagnosis and pathogenesis; his primary goal as an investigator is to contribute significantly to the diagnosis and treatment of lymphoma by identifying parameters and molecular alterations that help us to understand their pathogenesis, serve as prognostic indicators of outcome, and potentially represent therapeutic targets.  In 2010, Dr. Louissaint was awarded the MGH Physician-Scientist Development Award in support of his work on follicular lymphoma.  Most recently, he received the 2013 Benjamin Castleman Award at the annual United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology Meeting for his recent paper on pediatric-type follicular lymphoma; the award is granted for an outstanding paper published in the field of human pathology by a researcher under age 40.