Hematology Oncology Research and Education Update – April 2024

Message from Karen Ballen MD, Division of Hematology & Oncology Chief

Karen Ballen MDI am so proud to present the accomplishments of our incredible Hematology/Oncology team. We have had another banner year in clinical care, research, education, and community engagement.

In the past year, we have had the good fortune to recruit four new clinical faculty, with two physicians starting this coming summer. Dr. Danny Reed, who trained with us at UVa, joined us in our growing Leukemia program. Dr. Muneeb Rehman, a Gastrointestinal Oncology specialist, is an integral member of our very busy GI Oncology Team. Dr. Krithika Shanmugasundaram, a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)-T cell expert, recently joined our busy Stem Cell Transplant program. Dr. Balraj Singh is pioneering our expansion into Northern Virginia, working at Prince William and Culpeper. This summer, we are excited to welcome Dr. Nate Roberts, one of our Heme/Onc fellows, who will join our Lymphoma Team. Dr. Ludi Cavalcante, a sarcoma expert, will lead our Medical Sarcoma program and expand our Phase I effort—many thanks to our Administrative Specialists and Search Committees for the time and hard work of successful recruitment.

Congratulations and thanks to our Advance Practice Provider lead, Jessica Kassay-McAllister and Susie Herndon. Our APP program continues to expand. APPs Scott Cook, Kristen Noonan, Jordyn Sewell, and Jenea Brown are joining our team this year.

Our Cancer Service Line, is led by Dr. Mike Williams, former Division Chief, an international lymphoma expert, and my mentor, friend, and neighbor. Mike has transitioned to this role but remains active in mentorship, education, and scholarship. We welcome and congratulate Dr. Leigh Cantrell on her role as our Cancer Service Line Lead.

We are exceedingly proud that 22 of our providers were recognized for achieving Press-Ganey scores above the 90th percentile. UVA Oncology clinics in Augusta, Culpeper, and Pantops all achieved the coveted Number 1 honor for UVA Ambulatory clinics.

In basic research, we welcomed Dr. Todd Fox and Dr. Danielle Cook and their teams to our Hematology/Oncology Division. We now have a growing team of basic and translational investigators as part of our UVA Cancer Center led by Dr. Tom Loughran. Our Translational Orphan Blood Cancer Research Initiative (TOBRI) led by Dr. Owen O’Connor studies novel treatments for rare blood cancers, including T-cell lymphoma.

In clinical research, we have 78 open clinical research treatment trials. We are grateful to the many friends of the Cancer Center and Hematology/Oncology who provide philanthropic support for our research efforts and also help improve access to clinical trials.

In education, we thank Dr. Rick Hall for the fantastic leadership of our Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. We congratulate Dr. Trish Millard, who will be assuming leadership of our fellowship program in July 2024. Rick has been honored with a new leadership role with the Promotions Committee in the Department of Medicine. In undergraduate medical education, Dr. John Densmore has successfully led the program at Inova, and the students have had another fantastic match year.

We continue to work towards greater engagement with our community and dedication to diversity and equity. It was great to see our team at a Community Service project in the vegetable gardens of Morven Farms.

It is wonderful to have the opportunity to highlight our team’s accomplishments. I am most grateful for the best colleagues ever! We appreciate such fantastic colleagues in other divisions and departments and our wonderful nurses, division staff, research coordinators, and other team members. You all make my job and our vital work so special and fun.

~Karen K. Ballen, MD

Disease Updates

Medical Oncology

Robert Dreicer, MDThe medical oncology section concluded a productive clinical and academic year. At the beginning of the new academic year, the section welcomed Dr. Muneeb Rehman, a new GI medical oncologist. After a long search, we have successfully recruited Dr. Ludi Cavalcante to join the Division as the new head of the medical sarcoma program and her role as Associate Director of the Phase I program.

Selected academic highlights include the completion of three investigator-initiated trials in the last year, including the POWER trial led by Dr. Trish Millard, which was presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the Focused Ultrasound plus pembrolizumab trial (Breast-48) and the Entinostat plus capecitabine trial (Breast-49) led by Dr. Dillon which were also presented at national meetings.

Drs. Ryan Gentzler and Rick Hall were site PIs and co-authors on two separate phase III trials; both presented as late-breaking abstracts in the Presidential Symposium at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Madrid, Spain, in Fall 2023. Dr. Hall was one of the top enrollers on the TROPION-Lung01 trial of datopotamab deruxtecan for second-line metastatic NSCLC presented at the ESMO meeting. Dr. Gentzler was the highest enroller in North America and co-author on the ESMO abstract and simultaneous publication in Annals of Oncology for the MARIPOSA-2 trial of amivantamab plus chemotherapy for EGFR-mutated lung cancer.

Dr. William Skeleton mentored Drs. Soham Ali and Kathyryn Fortune both presented posters at the ASCO GU meeting in San Francisco.

~ Robert Dreicer, MD

Melanoma/and related disorders
Drs. Liz Gaughan and Varinder Kaur
APP: Jennifer Eccles, Jenea Brown

Breast Medical Oncology
Drs. Christiana Brenin, Patrick Dillon and Trish Millard
APP: Paul “Mike” Marshall and Melody Noble

Thoracic Medical Oncology
Drs. Ryan Gentzler and Richard Hall
APP: Marie Thomas

Head and Neck Oncology
Dr. Varinder Kaur
APP: Jenea Brown

Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and Unknown Primary Neoplasms
Drs. Tri Le, Paul Kunk, Muneeb Rehman, and Matthew Reilley
APP: Jenna Ally and Jenna Campo

Genitourinary Medical Oncology
Drs. Michael Devitt, Robert Dreicer, William Paul Skelton, Paul Viscuse
APP: Jennifer Eccles and Katie Stiebing

Dr. Michael Douvas
Dr. Ludi Cavalcante (joining July 2024)

Infusion/Urgent Care
APP: Elizabeth Coyman, Rachel Chai, and Elizabeth Lester

Stem Cell Transplant

John Wagner MDThe Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program continues to grow. We continue to increase our referrals from all over Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Northern Virginia, and Appalachia / SW Virginia. We have two outreach clinics and want to expand our outreach in other areas. We now have patients from different regions, including West Virginia. We perform transplants for various hematologic malignancies, including plasma cell dyscrasias, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, acute leukemias, myelodysplastic syndrome, and myeloproliferative disorders, as well as for bone marrow failure states. Our chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T program is continuing to grow (up more than 25% over the last year), we have access to all FDA approved CART products, and our research CART portfolio continues to grow. We can perform some transplants safely as outpatients. We are a core center with the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN) to open cooperative group clinical trials at UVA for our patients. We are well represented at the recent Transplant and Cellular Therapy meetings and the American Society of Hematology, with several presentations by our faculty.

~John Wagner, MD

Stem Cell Transplant
Drs. Karen Ballen, Krithika Shanmugasundaram, Indumathy Varadarajan, Leonid Volodin and John Wagner
APP: Hania Bushnaq-Aloul, Jessica Kassay-McAllister, and Christine Noonan
APP Inpatient: Isabel Burgess, Scott Cook, Mary Faith Dudley, Kristine Gillis, Erin Harr, and Jordyn Sewell

Hematologic Malignancies

The Hematologic Malignancy Program continues to grow in patient care and research. We are excited to welcome Dr. Roberts to our lymphoma program this summer. Drs. Ayers, Marchi, Portell, and Williams have had several international presentations on lymphoma. The clinical trial portfolio continues to increase in both B-cell and T-cell lymphoma. Dr. Keng has expanded our quality program, is a global figure in cancer quality, and serves as inpatient medical director. Dr. El Chaer has had several international presentations focusing on measurable residual disease. Dr. El Chaer also serves as the Medical Director of Infusion. Dr. Douvas is an active educator focusing on the complex young adult population. Dr. Garrett-Bakelman is studying epigenetics and older patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. In myeloma, Drs. Densmore and Foster are focusing on novel strategies for this population, with many new treatment options for these patients, including cellular and antibody-based therapy.

Lymphoma and CLL
Drs. Emily Ayers, Enrica Marchi, Craig Portell, and Michael E. Williams,
Dr. Nate Roberts (joining August 2024)
APP: Kim Conrad

Drs. John Densmore and Laahn Foster

Drs. Michael Douvas, Firas El Chaer, Francine Garrett-Bakelman, Michael Keng,
and Daniel Reed
APP: Kim Conrad and Amelia Hodson

Classical Hematology

Kelly Davidson MDClassical Hematology has had another busy year, particularly in clinical care and education. We manage patients with complex and rare hematologic disorders and are the primary academic referral center for much of Virginia and surrounding states. As classical hematology topics span nearly all other medical and surgical specialties, we remain busy with lectures and conferences to educate medical students, residents, fellows, and other divisions and departments.

Dr. Louise Man continues to direct the grant-supported Adult Comprehensive Hemophilia Treatment Center in conjunction with colleagues in pediatrics. Dr. Davidson leads our Adult Sickle Cell Disorders program and collaborates with SCD centers around the Commonwealth to improve access to comprehensive care and raise awareness for sickle cell disease. Dr. Davidson recently attended the American Society of Hematology’s Advocacy Leadership Institute, advocating for increased funding to support sickle cell disease on Capitol Hill. In conjunction with cardiothoracic surgery, we instituted a peri-operative anemia program to manage iron deficiency in patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery. We will expand this initiative to other surgeries with high-volume blood loss soon. Dr. Maitland continues her vital work to reduce peri-operative VTE at UVA by improving patient education and mobility. We look forward to adding two new physicians to our group in the coming year.

~Kelly Davidson, MD

Classical Hematology
Drs. Kelly Davidson, Valery Kogler, Hillary Maitland, and Louise Man
APP: Julie Armatas and Katie Gabler

UVA Community Oncology

Elizabeth Gaughan MDThe UVA Community Oncology Section serves patients in Fishersville and Culpeper with a spectrum of hematologic and solid tumor diagnoses. Our team oversees the multidisciplinary infusion centers at each location. The last year has seen rapid growth of clinical volumes, investments in staff expansion to maximize the use of existing space, and further alignment and integration between the community practices, medical center teams, and the academic Division. Our success in maintaining patient access for both clinic and infusion results from patient-focused teamwork, incorporation of technology, innovative problem solving, and strong relationships within the Oncology service line.

In the last year, the vault for the new linear accelerator in Culpeper was completed. Our northern oncology team is an anchor for Culpeper cancer services, and our providers are leaders on the Culpeper Medical Staff. Dr. Patel and Dr. Mahjoub piloted a successful initiative to precisely align with specific disease teams (Thoracic Oncology and Breast Oncology) at the main campus. Cancer and infusion services continue to grow in the Augusta market.

We look forward to expanding our clinical, infusion and laboratory footprint into the newly vacated space in the building. Several surgical subspecialty teams see patients in our Augusta clinic as our team works to maximize telemedicine connections to Charlottesville. This technological framework will facilitate cancer care closer to home.

~Elizabeth Gaughan, MD

Augusta Location
Drs. Gwenalyn Garcia, Nicholas Paphitis, and Mary Helen Witt

Culpeper Location
Drs. Ali Mahjoub, Pranav Patel, and Balraj Singh
APP: Michelle Otto

Charlottesville/Pantops Location
APP: Susie Herndon

Prince William/Manassas Location
Dr. Balraj Singh

Advance Practice Providers

Kassy McCallisterThe APP team continues to work on template optimization and utilization throughout the division with the One Access team. Expanding on educational opportunities by and for APPs and nursing through the educational series.

•Education Series
– A monthly, topical, lunchtime continuing education series by and for APPs and our nursing colleagues led by Jenna Campo, Rachel Chai, Julie Costin, Dr. Varinder Kaur, Marie Thomas, and Tanya Thomas. Sample presentations last year included Oncologic Emergencies by Amelia Hodson, Medical Cannabis by Jenna Campo and Jenna Ally, and Sickle Cell Anemia by Katie Gabler.

•We have grown tremendously across the Division, welcoming many new APP team members.
– Jenea Brown in Head / Neck and Melanoma
– Elizabeth “Liz” Lester, DNP in the infusion center (Urgent symptom clinic / C.E.R.T)
– Elizabeth Coyman, FNP in the infusion center (Urgent symptom clinic / C.E.R.T)
– Scott Cook, NP in Stem Cell Transplant / Cellular Therapy Program (inpatient)
– Jordyn Sewell, PA in Stem Cell Transplant / Cellular Therapy Program (inpatient)
– Doctorate in Nursing
– Jess Kassay-McAllister March 2023
– Melody Noble December 2023

Susie Herndon

Susie Herndon

– Jenna Ally, NP published in the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Daily Progress.
– Jess Kassay-McAllister, DNP published as a co-author in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology for her work in BATs clinical trial with Camilo Fadul and team and awaiting publication in the Oncology Nursing journal of her DNP project highlighting CARTOX APP use in CAR-T therapy.

•Couric Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T) was developed and received approval from the resuscitation committee this past fall. We continue to grow the team to provide ACLS care and meet the needs of our higher acuity patients in the Emily Couric (EC4). This APP-led team receives specialized training and will continue to expand to our community sites in the coming years.

~ Jess Kassay-McAllister and Susie Herndon, APP Supervisor

UVA Hematology Oncology

Clinical Updates

We continue to grow our clinical volumes and move more of our services to outpatient. Clinical Volumes grow yearly in all of our locations.

UVA Hematology Oncology


2023 Clinical Faculty Promotions

UVA Hematology Oncology


UVA Hematology Oncology

Educational Updates

Richard Hall MDLetter from the Program Director

We are fortunate to have an outstanding Hematology/Oncology fellowship program at the University of Virginia. Our strength lies principally in our people – first and foremost, our dedicated, thoughtful, collegial, and hard–working fellows, our outstanding program coordinator Lisa Mackey, and our committed faculty leaders.

After six years of leading our fellowship program, I will be stepping back into a supporting role as Associate Program Director (APD) while Trish Millard, MD takes over as fellowship program director in July 2024. Trish has established herself as an education leader at UVA – from residency, chief residency, fellowship, and APD of our fellowship since 2019. She will continue to grow our national presence as an education leader. Without a doubt, our program will continue to train Hematology/Oncology physicians who excel in patient care, scholarship, and education under Dr. Millard’s leadership.

~ Richard Hall, MD

Fellowship News

New Fellows

We welcomed four new fellows to the Class of 2026. Below are our first-year fellows with some of their new colleagues from left to right, Nate Roberts MD, Shipra Maheshwari MD, and Phil. Young MD, Sean Dougherty MD (UVA residency), Valerie Tran MD (VCU residency), Gautham Prakash MD (Rush Univ residency), Fabian Bolte MD (UVA residency), and Chris Thomas MBBS.

UVA Hematology Oncology

Recent Events

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Research Updates

UVA Hematology Oncology

To view Hematology Oncology Publications, Trials, and the entire April edition of Medicine Matters, go here.

Filed Under: Basic Research, Clinical Research, DOM in the News, Education, In the Know, News and Notes, Notable Achievements, Publications, Research, Top News

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