Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a family of disorders primarily associated with decreased production of blood cells in the bone marrow. The blood cells of people with MDS die before maturity, causing a shortage of functional blood cells. Patients with MDS are at a significantly increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dr. Daniel Starczynowski is studying whether genetic alterations in a protein known as TRAF6 may be implicated in both of these related diseases. This protein simultaneously regulates cell death and cell growth signaling pathways, and has been shown to be abnormally activated in some patients with MDS. He hopes that an increased understanding of the molecular events in MDS will reveal new targets for therapy.