Q. Tell me about your new role and program.
A. I am the Clinical Director of Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapies joining Trey Lee to help establish a bone marrow transplant program here at UVA. Creating the program is a significant task, from developing standard operating procedures, educating and training nursing/clinical staff, to establishing collaborations with other subspecialty programs on the “most up to date” management of transplant patients. Our goal is to become FACT accredited, the international accreditation standard that programs aspire to achieve, while opening up treatment options for the children of Virginia who need access to transplant and/or immunotherapy for life-threatening cancers, bone marrow failure syndromes, immune deficiency syndromes, and other blood and metabolic disorders. Currently, patients that come to UVA for care end up going to intuitions outside of the state for these types of transplants and immunotherapy. We want to make sure children and young adults in Virginia do not have to leave the state to receive a transplant or cellular therapy. This also means that patients with rare disorders will be able to come to UVA for specialized care.
Q. What are you most excited about?
A. I’m excited about the ability to work with excellent people who are dedicated to expanding a pediatric cellular program. My passion for this work comes from my training at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where many patients with rare and life-threatening cancers, bone marrow failure syndromes, and immune deficiencies have historically been referred and/or sought treatment. I was fortunate to have trained and worked with several “pioneers” and international leaders in transplant and Immunology. I’m originally from Danville with the Southeast being my “home,” so my goal was always to end up “back home” and be able to offer that same level of care. Now, I’m happy to be back, as these treatment options have been lacking in the state of Virginia and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Q. What’s your long-term plan?
A. After standing up the program, we want to become a site for novel therapies, combining Dr. Lee’s immunotherapy expertise and my interest in primary immune deficiencies, bone marrow failure syndromes, and other blood disorders, many of which are cured with bone marrow transplants. Gene therapy trials are also coming out for many conditions, including Immune deficiencies and sickle cell disease,
Q. What would you want others to know?
A. I’m looking forward to partnering with other departments in Pediatrics, as these patients often have multiple organs effected by their disorders. These patients are often seen in GI, dermatology, and pulmonary clinics, but ultimately, they have one condition and it is a defect in their immune system. The defect leads to a multi-organ system disease that warrants specialized care and the potential for a curative transplant. A bone marrow transplant can correct many if not all these patients’ problems.
Stay tuned for more to come. Our goal is to be transplanting patients by the end of 2021!
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