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Alex Nakeff

Alexander Nakeff received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. at the University of Toronto in 1965 and joined Marylou’s group (with Carl Stewart) at the University of Rochester in Biophysics that year as a Ph.D. student. His research was centered on the regulation of stem cell proliferation and differentiation into megakaryocyte and platelet production; he received his Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1970. His research interests continued under a Post-doctoral Fellowship with Dr. D.W. van Bekkum at the Radiobiological Institute in Rijswijk, The Netherlands. It was here that he first described and quantified the megakaryocyte progenitor cell compartments using in vitro clonogenic assays and their humoral regulation through thrombopoietin. Upon completing his Fellowship, he learned, much to his amazement, that this was, in reality, a permanent position in the Medical Faculty Rotterdam!

In 1972, Alex was recruited to the newly-formed Section of Cancer Biology established by Dr. Fred Valeriote (a fellow undergraduate at Univ. of Toronto in 1958) at Washington University in St. Louis. His primary focus remained in stem cell differentiation into megakaryocytopoiesis using new flow cytometric techniques developed as flow core director and he was instrumental in subsequently recruiting Carl Stewart to the group. In 1982, as part of an NIH Research Career Development Award, he spent most of the next year working with Dr. James V. Watson in Cambridge, England developing new Hoechst 33342 labeling probes and with Dr. Clemons Hannen, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands developing new cell separation techniques for megakaryocyte purification. In 1987, Alex joined the staff of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Wayne State University in Detroit as Professor of Internal Medicine (with tenure). His association with Dr. Fred Valeriote continued there as Flow Core Director until 1999 when they were recruited to the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit where they established the Drug Discovery and Development Program at the Josephine Ford Cancer Center and co-founded their anticancer drug development company, 21st Century Therapeutics, Inc.