Message from Karen Ballen, Division Chief, Hematology and Oncology

Karen Ballen, MDThe Hematology/Oncology Division has had another productive year in clinical care, research, and education, despite the pandemic’s obvious challenges. In July 2021, I had the privilege of assuming the position of Division Chief, and it is an honor to work with such an excellent team. Fortunately, the fabulous Dr. Mike Williams continues to lead us as the Service Line Lead for Oncology. Our National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant for Comprehensive Status was submitted in January, with our site visit expected this spring.

This year, we opened a new comprehensive breast center at Pantops, and patient reviews have been fantastic. We celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Couric Center this spring and have expanded our infusion capacity in the Couric and Pantops and Augusta.

We recruited three new faculty, Emily Ayers from the University of Pennsylvania, Owen O’Connor from Columbia, and Enrica Marchi from Columbia, all part of our growing lymphoma program.

We are currently interviewing for new faculty in GI Oncology, Stem Cell Transplant, and Community Oncology. We also welcomed Melody Noble, Julia Gyampoh, and Julie Armatas to our team as Advanced Practice Professionals.

Our providers continue to provide outstanding care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The Couric 3rd floor West Clinic, where many of our faculty practice, received a high honor from Press-Ganey: The 2020 Press Ganey Pinnacle of Excellence Award, based on three years of excellent patient experience results, and the only clinic that has received this award at UVa. We are proud that 21 of our providers were recognized for achieving Press-Ganey scores above the 90th percentile in FY 20. Three physicians, Drs. Douvas, Grosh, and Hall received perfect 100% scores.

In research, we have 181 open clinical research trials. Partnering with the UVa Cancer Center Community Outreach and Engagement, we are working hard to ensure clinical trials are available to all of our patients throughout Virginia. Drs. Loughran, Kester, Conaway, Papin, Horton, Tan, Garrett-Bakelman, Deering, Feith, Janes, Fox, and Keng earned The School of Medicine Team Science Award for their work on acute leukemia. The Loughran/Kester P01 renewal was officially funded by the National Cancer Institute and will include $10M total funding over the next five years. This consists of the phase I trial of ceramide nanoliposomes in relapsed/refractory AML with Dr. Mike Keng as the PI at UVA.

In education, our fellowship program, under the leadership of Drs. Rick Hall, Laahn Foster, and Trish Millard, continues to grow in number and national reputation. We had several hundred applications this year for four slots. We are pleased that we have added an additional fellow for the next academic year, which will bring our total to 11 for next year, and ultimately to 12. The fellows have been productive in their clinical work, and research, with several presentations at national meetings. Under the direction of Dr. John Densmore, our Inova campus opened to UVA medical students for their third and fourth-year rotations in undergraduate medical education.

We wish Dr. Bill Grosh well on his well-deserved retirement and congratulate him on his Emeritus status. It was fun to see Bill’s family, albeit on Zoom. Although it was a challenging year for celebrations, we held a socially distant retreat at Morven Farms, focusing on mentorship, wellness, and strategic planning. It is wonderful to see our team’s accomplishments. Of course, we are most appreciative of our colleagues in other divisions and Departments, nurses, research coordinators, division staff, and other team members who work hard each day to make UVA such an exceptional place.

~Karen K Ballen, MD

Filed Under: Basic Research, Clinical Research, Education, News and Notes

Tags: , , , , , ,