Program Strengths

Our Philosophy

The Division places a high priority on the success of our trainees and our goal is to provide a balanced curriculum allowing for the hands on care of a range of diagnoses while also providing protected time for learning and research. Thus the first year is focused on learning the clinical biology and management of cancer and blood diseases while years two and three provide ample protected time for research. There is a strong focus on the academic success of our Fellow who may choose to participate in traditional basic science, translation or clinical research during their second and third years.  Fellows electing to participate in clinical research also participate in the Masters of Clinical Investigation program which is funded by the department of Pediatrics and grants the Fellow with a Master’s Degree.  The vast majority of our Fellows have been awarded grants from prestigious national and international organizations such as the American Society of Hematology, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and St. Baldrick’s, among others. Fellows also have the opportunity to spend an additional 1-2 years as Clinical Instructors to further their research experience and productivity.

High-Faculty Fellow Ratio and Diverse Faculty Interests

Each year the program accepts two post-doctoral fellows who work alongside ten primary faculty members. This allows for individualized mentoring to explore and develop the fellows’ interests and career goals. Our faculty are dedicated to the education of students, residents and fellows and consistently achieves high marks for their efforts. Faculty interests span a wide variety of topics including leukemias, brain tumors, sarcomas, developmental therapeutics, benign hematology, palliative care, and neuro-psychology among others.

Integration with Medical Hematology-Oncology, Basic Science Departments and Perlmutter Cancer Center

Recognizing the inter- and transdisciplinary nature of the cancer and blood diseases, our Division has formed unique and critical collaborations. There are many Faculty with major interests in pediatric cancer but whose primary appointments may be outside of Pediatrics. In fact post-doctoral fellows can pursue their research outside of the Division. The Perlmutter Cancer Center, an NCI designated cancer with robust programs in basic, translational and clinical research where many members of our Division play important roles. Dr. William L. Carroll is the immediate past Director and currently co-leads the Cancer Genome Dynamics Program. He is also co-Director of the Graduate Program in Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology. He is Co-Principal Director of the T32 Training Program.

Combined Tumor Boards in Sarcomas, Hematological Malignancies and Neuro-oncology bring together a diverse and highly collaborative group of clinical and basic researchers who are engaged in the care of cancer patients across the full age spectrum.

A Dedicated Curriculum for Post-Doctoral Fellows

To provide a dedicated post-graduate curriculum for pediatric hematology-oncology fellows, a revised curriculum has been launched. This consists of a Board Review Series that meets twice a month led by a member of the faculty. This didactic session reviews key clinical concepts but also reviews emerging advances in the field. Board review questions are addressed and content is posted on the shared drive for ongoing review by the fellows in preparation for their Boards.

In addition to the Board Review series, a chapter by chapter review of Lanzkowsky’s Manual of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology meets monthly (among Dr. Carroll and the Fellows). Review of the content and key elements ensures that the Fellow develops strong foundation in the field. A Clinical Journal Club meets monthly where all recent publications of major clinical advances in the field of Hematology/Oncology are reviewed. This has been a very efficient mechanism to stay up to date with current clinical management.

A Book Club has recently been developed that meets monthly emphasizing the humanistic side of medicine with the goal of honing interpersonal, professional and leadership skills of the Fellows. This year’s selections include When Breath Becomes Air (Pal Kalanithi), The Art of Living (Epictetus) and The Art of War (Sun Tzu) and is led by Dr. Carroll and the Fellows.

Second year fellows also audit a course entitled Translating Cancer Discovery into Clinical Practice. The course is designed to educate Fellows about the importance of translation research in oncology as well as opportunities for their own research to impact diagnosis and treatment of cancer.  The course is conducted under the direction of Dr. Carroll and is taught by Dr. Carroll and other experts in the field of oncology research.

Furthermore, the Fellowship is dedicated to the emotional and mental well-being of the Fellows and provides a casual and confidential meeting with Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, a board-certified psychiatrist, once a month where lunch is provided and Fellows can discuss a variety of issues regarding hardships of fellowship, the challenges of working in the field of pediatric hematology-oncology or personal stressors.

Conferences

In addition to the above-mentioned curriculum for fellows, other departmental conferences exist which provide an efficient means of communication among members of the interdisciplinary team and opportunities to discuss challenging cases.

  • Core Lecture Series (Weekly, months of July and August)
  • Research Conferences/Journal Club (Weekly)
  • Interdisciplinary Rounds (Weekly)
  • Pediatric Grand Rounds (Weekly)
  • HemePath Conference (Monthly)
  • Tumor Board (Monthly)
  • Pediatric Neuro-oncology Tumor Board (Weekly)
  • Neuro-oncology Management Conference (Weekly)
  • Perlmutter Cancer Center Research Conference (Weekly)
  • Patient Management Lunch Conference(Weekly)
  • Leukemia Management Conference (Monthly)
  • Neurofibromatosis Clinical Management Conference (Monthly)
  • Hematology Lecture Series (Monthly)

Leukemia and Neuro-oncology Programs

While the full spectrum of disease management is represented in the Division particular strengths exists in Leukemia and Neuro-oncology where a strong community of clinicians and researchers are committed to the development of novel therapies.  The Division’s research laboratories are located in the Smilow Research Building.

Dr. William Carroll was the inaugural Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Committee and remains engaged in the development of nationwide clinical trials. His basic research laboratory is focused on the discovery of the biological pathways that mediate drug resistance. Dr. Teena Bhatla and Dr. Carroll co-lead a program on the role of the epigenome in leukemia initiation and progression and recent work from the lab has provided dramatic insight into the nature of the clonal evolution of the disease. Both are active members of Children’s Oncology Group and a number of clinical protocols have come from their work. Their work is funded by the National Cancer Institute, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (SCOR) and other extramural funding agencies. Collaborations with the Aifantis and Skok labs as well as others provide a rich environment for fellows interested in the translational biology of ALL.

Drs. Allen, Nicolaides, and Gardner focus on novel approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. They represent a wealth of experience in treating all forms of CNS tumors and see a large number of new referrals. Great expertise in neuro-pathology and neuro-surgery complement has led to a nationally recognized program in pediatric neuro-oncology. Drs. Allen, Karajannis and Gardner lead several investigator-initiated clinical trials and collaborate with many other leading centers around the globe, participating in basic/translational and clinical research involving childhood brain tumors.

Location

All of the facilities of the program are within walking distance of each other in a safe, pleasant location in the most exciting city in the world.  The new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital and the new Science Building, both opened in 2018,  have created exciting opportunities for programmatic advancements and the recruitment of additional faculty through the Perlmutter Cancer Center.