Division Highlights - Hematology, Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant

The Division of Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant provides state-of-the-art integrated care, utilizing conventional treatments (such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery), cellular therapies, molecular- and radioisotope-targeted therapies and stem cell transplant, aimed at curing malignancies and treating hematological disorders in children.

Research interests include ways to recognize and destroy cancer cells using immunologic, cellular and molecular biologic pathways, bone marrow transplantation as immunotherapy, CAR T-cell therapy, systemic targeted radiotherapy, cancer survivorship, neuro-oncology and palliative care.

2017 Highlights

  • The Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund has funded nine separate two-year, $100,000 grants in the Departments of Pediatrics and Human Oncology:
    • Christian Capitini, MD: "Improving Graft-Versus-Leukemia Effects of Ex Vivo Activated NK Cells through JAK/STAT Blockade"
    • Ken DeSantes, MD: "Support for Clinical Research Infrastructure"
    • Ken DeSantes, MD: "Treatment of Relapsed or Refractory Neuroblastoma with Ex-Vivo Activated and Expanded Haploindentical NK Cells and Hu14.18-IL2"
    • Jacquelyn Hank, PhD: "Monitoring of Immune Network Responses in Pediatric Neuroblastoma Patients Treated with Anti-GD2 Immunotherapy"
    • Inga Hofmann, MD (with Emery Bresnick, PhD): "Prognostic Markers and Therapeutic Targets in GATA2-Related Myelodysplastic Syndromes and Leukemia"
    • Mario Otto, MD, PhD: "Targeted Molecular Radiotherapy to Improve the Outcomes in Children with Malignant Brain Tumors"
    • Mario Otto, MD, PhD (with Dana Baiu PhD): "Strategies for Improving Recovery of Immune Function following TCRab-depleted Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation"
    • Alexander Rakhmilevich, MD, PhD: "Combining Innate and Adaptive Immune Activation for Treatment of Experimental Neuroblastoma"
    • Paul Sondel, MD, PhD (with Amy Erbe Gurel, PhD): "Determining the Influence of KIR/KIR-ligand Genotypes in the Outcome of High-Risk Neuroblastoma Patients Following Anti-GD2 Based Immunotherapy"

  • Inga Hofmann, MD, was chosen as the first medical director of the Program for Advanced Cell Therapy (PACT) (link to YIR story on faculty leadership), a collaboration of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Carbone Cancer Center.

    Dr. Hofmann also received a $50,000 infrastructure grant from the St. Baldrick's Foundation to support her work in advanced cellular therapies for pediatric cancer and cancer predisposition syndromes.

  • Fellow Miriam Kim, DO, received a two-year St. Baldrick's Fellowship Award that, with her mentor Christian Capitini, MD, will support her project, "Developing MSC-derived exosomes to enhance HSCT for pediatric leukemia."

  • Neha Patel, MD, organized and hosted UW Health's first Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) symposium to help children and families learn more about the disease, meet other NF1 patients and families and learn about resources and support available for NF1 patients.

  • Paul Sondel, MD, PhD, received the Richard V. Smalley, MD, Memorial Lectureship Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC); he was the first pediatric oncologist to receive this recognition.

    In addition, Kayla Rasmussen, an undergraduate student mentored by Dr. Sondel, received a 2017-2018 University of Wisconsin Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship.

  • In 2017, U.S. News and World Report ranked American Family Children's Hospital (AFCH) among the top 50 children's hospitals for pediatric oncology.

  • The AFCH pediatric oncology program was chosen as a member of the newly formed Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (Pediatric CITN).

    In addition, the AFCH pediatric neuro-oncology program joined the Nationwide Children's NEXT Consortium to conduct Head Start 4, a randomized clinical trial to treat very young children with brain tumors.

 

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