Message from Dr. Karen K. Ballen – Division Chief, Hematology and Oncology, December 2020

Karen K. Ballen, MD

Outcomes for patients with solid tumors, malignant and non-malignant hematologic disorders, and for recipients of cellular therapy/stem cell transplant continue to improve, through compassionate, multidisciplinary care, and scientific advances. Using molecular diagnostics, we are able to offer targeted treatment for many cancers, and immunotherapy has replaced traditional chemotherapy in many cases. It is the mission of our Division to bring these cutting-edge therapeutics to the clinic, to advance the field via our translational and clinical research programs, and to provide the highest-quality training to the next generation of clinicians and academicians. Most importantly, we seek to serve our community, through education, cancer prevention, and improved access to high-quality care.

The Division of Hematology/Oncology has continued to grow in inpatient numbers, clinical trials, and publications. The Division plays an important role as the UVA Cancer Center progresses towards achieving NCI Comprehensive status designation. Our NCI Cancer Center Grant will be submitted in 2021.

COVID has of course affected all of us. Our inpatient and outpatient programs are back to full operation, with appropriate social distancing. Our nurses have innovated ways to increase electronic communication with families and to provide support for our patients during long hospitalizations.

A highlight of the year was our Division Retreat at beautiful Morven Farms. This was a special time to interact with colleagues and address important issues facing our division, including mentorship, wellness, and strategic planning.
It has been a privilege to assume the role of Division Chief for Hematology/Oncology. I want to personally thank Mike Williams for his many years of outstanding service, for recruiting many members of our team (including me) to UVa, and for being such an outstanding role model and mentor.

Karen K. Ballen, MD

New Division Highlights, Programs, and Achievements

• A new multidisciplinary Breast Care Center in our Pantops location
• Expansion of CAR-T cells and cellular therapy– generated in the new Center for Human Therapeutics in Pinn Hall under the leadership of Drs. Larry Lum, John Luckey, Tammy Kindwall-Keller, and Indu Varadarajan
• Growth of a partially State-supported Adult Sickle Cell Disease program – Dr. Kelly Davidson
Dr. Pranav Patel is currently serving as Chief, Department of Medicine NHUVA Culpeper Hospital
Dr. Pranav Patel has been elected to the NHUVA Culpeper Hospital Medical Executive Committee (term to begin Jan 1, 2021) for an at-large position
Drs. Kelly Davidson, Ryan Gentzler, Richard Hall, and Michael Keng were promoted to Associate Professor
Dr. Archana Thakur was promoted to Associate Professor of Research
Dr. Patrick Dillon was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure
Drs. Thomas Loughran, Su-Fern Tan, Fran Garrett-Bakelman, David Feith, and Mike Keng were among those awarded the UVA School of Medicine Team Science Award

Welcome New Faculty and APPs!

Owen O’Connor, MD, PhD – American Cancer Society Research Professor
Emily Ayers, MD, Heme Malignancy-Lymphoma
Enrica Marchi, MD, PhD, Heme Malignancy-T cell Lymphoma
Julie Armatas, ACNP-BC, RN, CCRN – Benign Hematology
Julia Gyampoh, RN, MSN, ACNP – Outpatient Infusion Center
Melody Noble, RN MSN, AG-ACNP – Outpatient Infusion Center

Clinical trials and translational research programs have been highly productive this year. Several items of note.

• The opening of clinical trials at our Pantops Location-Dr. Liz Gaughan

• Incorporation of Early Palliative Care for patients with relapsed leukemia- Drs. Karen Ballen and Leslie Blackhall

• Numerous GI (Drs. Kunk, Le, Reilley), GU (Drs. Devitt and Dreicer) and Breast trials (Drs. Brenin, Dillon, Millard) including important investigator-initiated trials (IITs), Dr. Kaur (Head & Neck cancer), Dr. Gaughan (Melanoma), Dr. Kindwall-Keller (SCT) and Dr. Michael Douvas (ALL)

Drs. Patrick Dillon and Craig Portell are sub-investigators for a new RO1 grant, “Dose finding designs for late-onset toxicities”.

Dr. Patrick Dillon received a new Department of Defense grant “Investigation of the microbiome composition as a biomarker for evaluating impacts from COVID-19 and modulation of immunotherapy”.

Dr. Fran Garrett-Bakelman received a prestigious 5 year NASA grant “Space radiation exposure and risk mediated by clonal hematopoiesis.”

Dr. Lawrence Lum received a NIH grant for the Convalescent Immune Plasma for the Treatment of COVID-19: Mechanisms Underlying the Host Immunologic and Virologic Response.


The Division has an outstanding and competitive fellowship program in a dynamic, rapidly changing field led by Dr. Richard Hall, Program Director and Associate Program Directors, Drs. Laahn Foster and Trish Millard. The fellowship program will be growing and will accept four new fellows in July 2021. This will increase our fellowship program from nine to twelve fellows by 2023. This year we have new curricula to teach resiliency skills, community oncology, and clinical trial development.

William W. Grosh, MD

William W. Grosh, MD

William W. Grosh, MD Retiring

Dr. William Grosh will be retiring in December 2020. Dr. Grosh, “Grosh”, has been a valued member of the UVA Hematology/Oncology faculty since 1988. He is a national leader in medical oncology, particularly the complex disease of sarcoma, and he attracts patients from throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as other parts of the Southeast. He is beloved by his patients who frequently commend his thoughtful approach, his dedication, and his availability to his patients.

Dr. Grosh has trained countless students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty members. He is a patient and committed educator, and well respected by his trainees. He has led by example, with collegiality, insight, and tireless effort.

On a national level, he is recognized by Castle Connolly as one of America’s Top Doctors from 2001 to the present, a remarkable 20-year achievement. And he has started his own not-for-profit, Dream Makers, to serve terminally ill children.

In addition, Dr. Grosh is a person of the utmost integrity who is a wonderful role model for our division, and for the many Virginia oncologists that he has trained. He has had a deep and lasting impact, improving the care of patients in Virginia and beyond, and enhancing the education of residents, fellows, and faculty.

Bill, we will miss you and wish you well on the next stage in the journey.

2020 Hematology/Oncology Faculty


2020 Hematology/Oncology Graduating Fellows Victor Orellana-Noia, Erin McLoughlin, Daniel Reed

We have accomplished a lot with great teamwork in 2020, and look forward to our continued success in 2021. ~ Dr. Karen Ballen


Filed Under: News and Notes, Notable Achievements, Top News

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