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Division of Hematologic Malignancies &
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

The hematologic malignancies program continues with a strong track record of novel investigator-initiated clinical trials. The Blood and Marrow Transplantation service continues their innovative effort aimed at ensuring that all patients in need of an allogeneic transplant will have an acceptable donor. This approach, which is unique to Jefferson, splits the transplant into 2 cellular subcomponents aimed at eliminating the traditional dilemma of how to maximize anti-malignancy effect without increasing the risk of graft-versus-host disease. During the past several years we have greatly expanded patient access by successfully developing a program that can use haplo-identical family members as donors. In practice this means that anyone with a parent or a child has a potential family member donor. The initial results of the first trial were presented at the American Society of Hematology meeting in December 2009 and were published in Blood the premier journal for hematology (Blood 2011 118:4732-4739).

Drs. Flomenberg, Filicko-O’Hara, and Grosso secured federal funding (1RC2HL101496-01, Matched and haplo-identical transplantation for Adults with Sickle Cell Anemia) to extend this innovative approach to patients with Sickle Cell Disease. In the non-transplant arena, Dr. Margaret Kasner, a recipient of an ASCO Cancer Foundation Career Development Award continues to examine the role of mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloblastic leukemia. The clinical trials studying this approach are some of the most successful therapeutic trials in the Cancer Center which regard to patient accrual and Dr. Kasner was invited to present the preliminary results at the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group meeting in November 2010. Other investigators are continuing to investigate novel therapies to treat lymphomas, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, and myeloproliferative disorders. This past year has seen a significant increase in clinical activity and this trend is anticipated to continue during the upcoming year due to the recruiting effort described below as well as a more focused approach to clinical care and clinical research.

Doctor and patient

In late 2009 Dr. Mark Weiss joined the department as head of the Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation; he came from Memorial Sloan-Kettering where he led the clinical research program in lymphoid leukemias for almost 20 years. At Thomas Jefferson University, Dr. Weiss organized disease specific teams to focus the group’s efforts both in terms of clinical research and clinical care. Dr. Weiss is also continuing his own personal research which focuses on developing highly active regimens with less toxicity than currently available treatments. In the laboratory, Dr. Onder Alpdogan has developed murine models to complement and further refine our approach to haplo-identical transplantation including pioneering studies using 2 donors for these transplants. In addition Dr. Ubaldo Martinez-Outschoorn has joined the division in 2010 and his work has added substantially to our understanding of the reverse Warburg effect; a new model explaining the metabolism of cancer cells and offering the potential for new broadly applicable approaches to cancer therapy.

The transplant program has established an international reputation for its unique approach to haplo-identical transplants and, our goal for the next year is to continue to develop similar identifiable programs in leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplasia, and, multiple myeloma. Drs. Flomenberg, Grosso, Carabasi, Wagner, and Filicko all play important roles in the transplant effort. Under Dr. Weiss’ direction, Dr. Gitelson is leading the effort to develop the B-cell lymphoma program along with Dr. Alpdogan who plays an important role in the area of T-cell lymphomas. Dr. Wagner serves as our myeloma program leader in association with Dr. Martinez. Dr. Besa leads the myelodysplasia effort. Dr. Filicko leads the effort in myeloproliferative disorders. Dr. Kasner leads the acute leukemia effort and Dr. Weiss the CLL program. Division members play a number of other key roles including Dr. Carabasi’s role as Medical Director of the Cancer Service Line, Dr. Filicko’s role as director of the department’s fellowship program, and Dr. Wagner’s role as director of the BMT processing laboratory.