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Our Scholars

Scholars by Graduation Date

2023
Lauren D. Scherer, MD
Stephanie L. Fetzko, MD

2022
Jennifer Agrusa, MD
David Steffin, MD

2021
Shoba A. Navai, MD
Joanna S. Yi, MD

2020
Olive S. Eckstein, MD
Samara L. Potter, MD, MBA

2019
Bilal A. Omer, MD
Sarah B. Whittle, MD

2018
Wendy Allen-Rhoades, MD, PhD

2017
Allan Sison, MD
Christopher DeRenzo, MD, MBA

2016
Andras A. Heczey, MD
Alexandra M. Stevens, MD, PhD
Ricardo J. Flores, MD

2015
Rachel E. Rau, MD
Matteo Trucco, MD
Stephen Simko, MD

2012
Caridad A. Martinez, MD
Maria Monica Gramatges, MD, PhD
Patricia Baxter, MD, MBA

2011
Jodi A. Muscal, MD
John A. Craddock, MD
Marla Daves, MD

2010
Chrystal U. Louis, MD, MPH
Lindsay Kilburn, MD

2009
Jessica Foglesong, MD

2008
G. Doug Myers, MD
Rachel Egler, MD
Karen Rabin, MD, PhD

2007
Rebecca Johnson, MD

2006
Dean A. Lee, MD, PhD

2005
Eufemia Jacob, PhD, RN
Terzah M. Horton, MD, PhD
Jack M. Su, MD


Current Scholars

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Jennifer Agrusa, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Agrusa earned a bachelor of science in brain, behavior, and cognitive science from the University of Michigan. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from New York University School of Medicine. In 2017, Dr. Agrusa joined Baylor College of Medicine where she practices pediatric oncology and conducts research focused on Hodgkin's lymphoma. Dr. Agrusa’s research aims to determine whether biologic factors, such as gene expression, cytokines/chemokines and telomere length, are associated with the pathogenesis and clinical outcomes in pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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Stephanie L. Fetzko, MD
Instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Fetzko earned a bachelor of arts in anthropology from the University of Miami. She obtained her doctorate in medicine from Duke University School of Medicine. In 2019, Dr. Fetzko joined Baylor College of Medicine where she practices pediatric oncology and conducts research on novel approaches for the treatment of pediatric sarcoma. Dr. Fetzko is investigating the use of genetically enhanced natural killer (NK) cells to counter the suppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) of soft-tissue sarcomas while limiting off-target toxicity. She is currently developing a sarcoma-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) NK cell.

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Shoba A. Navai, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology , Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Navai earned a bachelor of arts in mathematics and a bachelor of science in biological sciences from Vanderbilt University. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from the Medical College of Georgia. In 2010, Dr. Navai joined Baylor College of Medicine where she completed a residency in pediatric and global child health followed by a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology. She now practices pediatric oncology and conducts research in immunotherapies for cancer. Dr. Navai currently co-leads two phase 1 clinical trials testing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies for patients with HER2-positive sarcoma and patients with HER2-positive brain tumors, respectively.

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Lauren D. Scherer, MD
Instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Scherer earned a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Louisville. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from Wright State University. In 2020, Dr. Scherer joined Baylor College of Medicine where she practices pediatric oncology with a research focus on pediatric leukemia. Dr. Scherer’s research seeks to identify new therapies for patients with difficult to treat leukemia. 

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David Steffin, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Steffin earned a bachelor of science in biology from Brandeis University and a doctorate in medicine from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He then went on to complete a residency in pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center and both a pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship and bone marrow transplantation/immunotherapy fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital. In 2018, Dr. Steffin joined Baylor College of Medicine as faculty where he practices pediatric bone marrow transplantation and conducts phase 1 clinical trials within the department of Cell and Gene Therapy. Dr. Steffin’s primary research focuses on developing new Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapies for children with relapsed and/or refractory solid tumors. 

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Joanna S. Yi, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Yi earned a bachelor of science in pharmacology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by a doctorate in medicine from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. She completed her pediatrics residency at the University of Minnesota and her pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. In 2015, Dr. Yi joined Baylor College of Medicine as a member of the developmental therapeutics and leukemia teams as well as the Center for Drug Discovery at Baylor College of Medicine. She is particularly interested in understanding the regulation of key drivers in leukemias and brain tumors, and seeks to bring her lab-based efforts of finding new, targeted drugs to early phase clinical trials for children with hard-to-treat cancers.

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Past Scholars

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Wendy Allen-Rhoades, MD, PhD

Senior Associate Consultant and Assistant Professor, Mayo Clinic

Research Mentor: Jason T. Yustein, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Murali M. Chintagumpala, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2015-6/2018

Biomarker discovery and development in pediatric sarcomas

Dr. Wendy Allen-Rhoades earned a bachelor of science in biological sciences and psychology from the University of Nebraska. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from Georgetown University School of Medicine. In 2020, she completed a PhD in clinical investigation from Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Allen-Rhoades’ research focused on discovering and developing biomarkers (microRNAs and genomic markers) for pediatric sarcomas to improve early detection rates, guide therapy choices, monitor progress to therapy, and aid the surveillance for recurrence.

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Patricia A. Baxter, MD, MBA, MS
Director, Clinical Research Operations, Cancer and Hematology Centers
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Susan Blaney, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2010-7/2012

Evaluation of Novel Therapeutic Strategies in Pediatric CNS Tumors

Dr. Baxter earned a bachelor of arts in English from the College of the Holy Cross. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from Jefferson Medical College/Thomas Jefferson University and an MBA in Business from Rice University. She completed her fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology and clinical pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine in 2009 before joining the faculty. In 2012, Dr. Baxter completed a master of science in the Clinical Scientist Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Baxter’s research focuses on bringing novel therapies to pediatric patients with brain tumors.  As a member of both the Brain Tumor and Developmental Therapeutics Programs at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers she works to bridge basic brain tumor biology and the clinic through clinical research studies.  

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John A. Craddock, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Cliona Rooney, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2008-6/2011

Enhancement of tumor tropism for adoptively transferred T-cells

Dr. Craddock earned a bachelor of science in biology from Florida Institute of Technology. He then obtained a doctorate in medicine from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Dr. Craddock’s laboratory research focused on a means to improve the tumor tropic properties of adoptively transferred T cells. Using neuroblastoma as a target, he identified a chemokine commonly secreted by neuroblastoma cell lines for which the receptor was absent on activated T cells. By adding the chemokine receptor to CAR-T cells targeting neuroblastoma, he was able to enhance tumor-tropism toward chemokine-secreting neuroblastoma cell lines and tumors in vitro and in vivo.

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Marla Daves, MD
Affiliate Physician, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Research Mentor: Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH
K12 Appointment: 7/2010-12/2011

Use of a trigger tool to measure timeliness of therapy in pediatric acute lymphoid leukemias

Dr. Daves earned a bachelor of science in mathematics from the University of Alabama. She then obtained a doctorate of medicine from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. In 2011, she completed a master of science in health informatics from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Biomedical Informatics. Dr. Daves’ research applied informatic tools to improve the quality and safety of healthcare in pediatric oncology. She studied the causes and effects of treatment delays in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Dr. Daves worked with the Children’s Oncology group to look at timeliness of therapy in ALL in order to determine the effect on outcomes.

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Christopher DeRenzo, MD, MBA
Assistant Member, Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Research Mentor: Stephen Gottschalk, MD
Clinical Mentor: Helen Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon)
K12 Appointment: 7/2015-6/2017

Improving T-cell therapies for solid tumors

Dr. DeRenzo earned his bachelor of arts in biology at Rutgers University, and a doctorate in medicine from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He performed his pediatric residency training at Case Western Reserve University/Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, followed by a pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital. At Texas Children’s, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Gottschalk to study adoptive T cell therapy for children with solid tumors and carried out early-phase clinical studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of T cell therapies for patients with solid tumors. In his current role as a laboratory principal investigator and clinician-scientist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. DeRenzo continues to develop novel cell therapies for pediatric patients with solid tumors, and translate those findings into early phase clinical studies. 

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Olive S. Eckstein, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Carl E. Allen, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Kenneth L. McClain, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2017-6/2020

Optimizing Outcomes in Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis: Improving Front-Line Therapy and Developing Biomarker Based Risk Stratification Strategies

Dr. Eckstein obtained her doctorate in medicine from Chicago Medical School, and completed her pediatric residency at Boston Children’s Hospital, followed by a pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital which she completed in 2014. Dr. Eckstein’s research interest is to define the optimal standard therapy for newly diagnosed Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) and salvage therapy for relapsed patients. She is the Study Chair of a multicenter investigator-initiated Phase III randomized controlled trial (LCH REASON), which she developed and implemented to determine if low dose cytarabine is superior to the current standard-of-care vinblastine/prednisone in terms of clinical outcomes and toxicity. In addition, she is Study Vice-Chair of NACHO-Cobimetinib, a Phase II clinical trial to study MEK inhibition for patients with LCH and other histiocytic disorders in patients with relapse/refractory disease. As part of these trials, she is conducting translational research to prospectively evaluate the significance of biologic markers in relation to disease classification and response to treatment. Dr. Eckstein is also developing clinical and biologic research to improve earlier detection of LCH neurodegenerative disease and ultimately provide clinical guidance for treatment options and response criteria for this challenging and devastating subcategory of disease.

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Rachel Egler, MD
Director of Outpatient Services, Angie Fowler Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Institute, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital

Research Mentor: Marc E. Horowitz, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2005-6/2008

Early Predictors of Relapse in Neuroblastoma

Dr. Egler graduated from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and completed a post-baccalaureate year at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned her doctorate in medicine from Albany Medical College, Albany, New York. She served a residency in pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, and a fellowship in pediatric hematology and oncology at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She obtained a master of science in clinical research from Baylor College of Medicine while attending at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Dr. Egler’s clinical research interest focuses on the treatment of pediatric solid tumors, including: neuroblastoma, sarcomas, germ cell tumors and other rare pediatric cancers.

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Ricardo J. Flores, MD
Clinical Director, Cancer and Hematology Centers, Texas Children's Hospital The Woodlands
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Chris Tsz-Kwong Man, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Lisa L. Wang, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2014-6/2016

A Clinical Biomarker Study for Improving Risk-based Stratification in Osteosarcoma

Dr. Flores obtained a doctorate in medicine from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. Dr. Flores’ research efforts focus on high-risk bone tumors in pediatric patients. Dr. Flores was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) to continue his research on pediatric bone tumors, cancer biomarkers, and novel therapeutic targets for high-risk pediatric cancer patients.

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Jessica Foglesong, MD
Attending Physician, Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology, Oncology, and Stem Cell Transplantation), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Research Mentor: Catherine Bollard, MD, MBChB
K12 Appointment: 7/2006-6/2009

Immunotherapy for Hematological Malignancies

Dr. Foglesong earned a doctorate in medicine from SUNY-Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Foglesong’s research interest include novel cellular therapies. Most of her expertise was focused on laboratory research and clinical medicine. Her first training in clinical research was during her faculty training at Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  

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Maria Monica Gramatges, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Long-Term Survivor Program
Chair, Practice Standards Committee, Cancer and Hematology Centers
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Alison A. Bertuch, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2009-6/2012

Telomeres and Telomerase in Childhood Cancers

Dr. Gramatges earned a bachelor of science in biology and art history from College of William and Mary and a doctorate of medicine from the University of Texas – Houston Medical School. After completing her hematology/oncology fellowship at Stanford University, she joined Baylor College of Medicine in 2009. She completed her PhD in clinical investigation through the Clinical Scientist Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine in 2015. Dr. Gramatges’ research explores genetic and molecular risk for acute and late cancer therapy-related toxicities. Her work has been supported by the leading cancer research foundations, a K23 Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award to Promote Diversity (2012) to investigate the relationship between telomerase defects and myelosuppression in acute myeloid leukemia, and an R01 (2015) to identify genetic risk for thyroid second cancers in survivors.   

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Andras A. Heczey, MD
Director, Liver Tumor Program
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Leonid Metelitsa, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Malcolm Brenner 
K12 Appointment: 7/2013-6/2016

Adoptive Immunotherapy of Pediatric Solid Tumors

Dr. Heczey obtained a doctorate in medicine from Semmelweis University in 2002, followed by his residency in general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in 2009. He completed his fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children's Hospital in 2012. Dr. Heczey’s research focuses on developing novel treatments for children with solid tumors by redirecting the immune system to attack cancer cells. Dr. Heczey studied and published the first adoptive immunotherapy approach utilizing genetically modified Natural Killer T cells to attack neuroblastoma; he is evaluating this approach in a phase 1 clinical trial. As the Director of the Liver Tumor Center, Dr. Heczey has developed a strategy to target hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma with genetically engineered T lymphocytes. He and his team are currently examining GPC3-CAR T cells in adults and children with relapsed or refractory liver tumors.

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Terzah M. Horton, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine
Hyundai Pediatric Cancer Research Scholar

Research Mentors: Helen E. Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon) & Sharon Plon, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2002-7/2005

The Role of Protein Ubiquitination in Pediatric Leukemia, and
Pharmacologic Treatment of Pediatric Patients with Refractory/Recurrent Leukemias

Dr. Horton earned a bachelor of arts in history/music from Rollins College. She then obtained a doctorate of medicine from the Emory University School of Medicine, as well as her PhD. Dr. Horton’s research interests include molecular causes of leukemia and lymphoma, proteomics, and the deregulation of cell cycle protein degradation during the development of malignancy. She is also interested in developmental therapeutics and the addition of proteasome inhibitors and other cell stress agents into treatment for pediatric leukemia and lymphoma. In addition, she has served in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) as both a study chair and as a scientist performing correlative biology studies for Hodgkin's lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

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Eufemia Jacob, PhD, RN
Associate Professor, UCLA School of Nursing

Research Mentor: Marilyn Hockenberry, PhD, RN
Clinical Mentor: Stacey Berg, MD, 
K12 Appointment: 7/2002-6/2005

Synergy of Karenitecin and Mafosfamide in Pediatric Leukemia, Medulloblastoma, and Neuroblastoma, and
Pain and Symptom Experience in Hospitalized Children with Cancer

Dr. Jacob earned a bachelor of science in nursing and master of science in nursing from the University of San Francisco. and received her PhD in nursing from the University of California San Francisco. In 2004, Dr. Jacob completed a CAQ in clinical investigation from Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Jacob’s research focuses on helping children with persistent chronic pain to learn self-management behaviors. Dr. Jacob developed the Wireless Intervention Program (WIP), which utilizes handheld electronic devices to self-monitor pain and symptoms at home in children with chronic illness (cancer, sickle cell disease, persistent chronic pain) that facilitated communication about pain and symptoms to care providers.

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Rebecca Johnson, MD
Medical Director, Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program, Mary Bridge Hospital/MultiCare Health System

Research Mentor: Ching C. Lau, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2003-6/2007

Outcome Prediction and Drug Targeting for Pediatric Intracranial Ependymomas

Dr. Johnson earned a bachelor of arts in biology from Cornell University. She then received a doctorate in medicine from Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Johnson’s research used microarray comparative genomic hybridization gene expression profiling on Affymetrix Human U133 Plus 2.0 arrays to study genetic alterations in childhood ependymoma.   

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Lindsay Kilburn, MD
Neuro-Oncologist, Children’s National Medical Center

Research Mentor: Susan Blaney, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2007-6/2010

Glutathione S-Transferase Polymorphisms and expression in neuroblastoma, and
Evaluation of Microtubule Inhibitor CNS Penetration

Dr. Kilburn graduated with a degree in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia. After graduating from Eastern Virginia Medical School, she completed her pediatric training at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, and her hematology/oncology fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital / Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. She also has received training in pharmacology from both Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Her research focuses on the development and evaluation of new therapeutic agents for children with pediatric brain tumors through clinical trials. She is committed to the improvement of palliative and supportive care.

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Dean A. Lee, MD, PhD
Professor and Director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunology Program, Pediatrics - Hematology & Oncology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Research Mentor: Malcolm Brenner, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2003-6/2006

Identification of Tumor-specific T-cell Epitopes in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

Dr. Lee earned his bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Fresno Pacific College, completed his medical, doctoral, and pediatric residency training at Loma Linda University then completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Lee is a physician in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and director of the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunology Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. He is a professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine and the DiMarco Family Endowed Chair in Cell Based Therapy. Dr. Lee is chair of the Cellular Therapy Strategy Group for the Pediatric Transplant And Cellular Therapy Consortium, a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee (NExTRAC) and Gene Drives Working Group, and member of the Cell Therapy Steering Committee for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).

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Chrystal U. Louis, MD, MPH
Vice President, Head of Medical Affairs, CRISPR Therapeutics

Research Mentor: Stephen Gottschalk, MD
Clinical Mentor: Helen E. Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon)
K12 Appointment: 7/2007-6/2010

Immunotherapy for Solid Tumors

Dr. Louis earned a bachelor of science in chemistry and a bachelor of arts in political science from Southwestern University. She then obtained her medical degree and a master of public health in health systems management from Tulane University School of Medicine and Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2001. Dr. Louis’ primary research efforts were focused on improving immunotherapy options for patients with malignant solid tumors, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma and neuroblastoma.

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Caridad A. Martinez, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Catherine Bollard, MD
K12 Appointment: 1/2010-12/2012

Improving Immune Reconstitution After Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation in Pediatric Patients

Dr. Caridad Martinez earned a bachelor of science in general sciences from the University of Puerto Rico. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from the University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine. Dr. Martinez’s research focus is investigating the feasibility of umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplant in non-malignant and malignant pediatric diseases. Her current area of interest is developing strategies to improve overall survival and immunoreconstitution after stem cell transplantation for patients with primary immunodeficiencies. She also has a particular interest in demonstrating the feasibility and success of stem cell transplantation in the setting of alternate donor sources specially cord blood units for patients with congenital pediatric disorders. Dr. Martinez is a member of the Cell and Gene Therapy Program's translational clinical research and the pediatric bone marrow transplant clinical team, which is part of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program.

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Jodi A. Muscal, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Susan Blaney, MD
Clinical Mentor: Stacey Berg, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2008-6/2011

Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) Antagonists in Pediatric Cancer

Dr. Muscal earned a bachelor of arts in English from Duke University. She than obtained a doctorate in medicine from Temple University School of Medicine. Dr. Muscal’s translational research focuses on the pre-clinical development and clinical application of new and targeted drugs for the treatment of childhood cancers. She works with the research team to maximize curative therapy and minimize treatment related toxicity.

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G. Doug Myers, MD
Section Chief, Bone Marrow Transplantation, Hematology/Oncology/BMT; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine; Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas School of Medicine  

Research Mentor: Helen E. Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon)
K12 Appointment: 7/2005-6/2008

Improving Immunity Post Transplant

Dr. Myers earned a bachelor of science in microbiology from Oklahoma State University. He then received a doctorate in medicine and surgery from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Dr. Myers’ areas if interest includes adoptive immunotherapy, immune reconstitution post-hematopoietic stem cell transplant, and solid tumor immunotherapy.

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Bilal A. Omer, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Cliona Rooney, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Helen Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon)
K12 Appointment: 7/2016-6/2019

Optimizing Treatment of Virus Infections and Virus Associated Cancers with T Cells

Dr. Omer obtained a doctorate in medicine from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science, Chicago Medical School. Dr. Omer’s research focuses on cell therapy targeting virus and non-virus associated cancers, using genetically modified T cells. Dr. Omer is a member of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT)/Stem Cell Transplant Program and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT). At the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, he has been working on improving T cell therapies for neuroblastoma, lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia, looking at different ways of improving migration and persistence of tumor-specific and chimeric antigen receptor redirected T cells.

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Samara L. Potter, MD, MBA
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Donald Williams (Will) Parsons, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Rajkumar Venkatramani, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2017-6/2020

Genomic Analysis of Relapsed and Rare Solid Tumors of Childhood

Dr. Potter earned a bachelor of arts with honors in art history from Williams College. She subsequently enrolled in the joint MD/MBA program at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University, earning both degrees in 2011. Dr. Potter focuses on improving outcomes for children with solid tumors through translational and clinical genomics research. Her research utilizes an integrated sequencing precision medicine approach to identify tumor alterations, with the ultimate goal of improving clinical outcomes in these patients.

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Karen R. Rabin, MD, PhD
Director, Leukemia Program
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Sharon Plon, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2005-12/2008

Clinical utility of genomic microarrays in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

Dr. Rabin earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Harvard University. She then received a master of arts in medical law and ethics from Kings College. She obtained a doctorate in medicine from the University of California and a PhD in Clinical Investigation from Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Rabin’s research interests focus on prognosis, management, and genomics of ALL, with special interests in ALL in children with Down syndrome; and disparities in ALL outcomes in Hispanics.

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Rachel E. Rau, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentors: Susan Blaney, MD & Margaret A Goodell, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2012-6/2015

1) DOT1L as a therapeutic target in DNMT3A-mutant hematologic malignancy; 
2) AALL1421: Pharmacology and Toxicity of Asparec® (mPEG-r-Crisantapase) Following Allergy to PEG-Asparaginase in Treatment of Children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) or Lymphoblastic lymphoma (LL)”

Dr. Rau earned a bachelor of arts in biology from Case Western Reserve University. She then obtained a doctorate of medicine from Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Rau’s research aims to develop novel therapies for the treatment of leukemia in children. By working in the lab to better understand the biology of leukemia, her research findings identify new therapeutic targets that are developed and tested for use in the patient care clinic.

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Stephen Simko, MD
Senior Medical Director, Genentech
Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University

Research Mentor: Carl Allen, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentors: Catherine Bollard, MD, MBChB and Kenneth L. McClain, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 3/2012-2/2015

Translational Biology and Novel Therapeutic Approaches in Hematopoietic Neoplasms, including Mature B-cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Histiocytic Disorders

Dr. Simko earned a bachelor of science in biochemistry and microbiology from the University of Georgia. He then obtained a doctorate in medicine from the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Simko’s research focused on the study of pediatric histiocytic disorders and lymphoma, where he performed both clinical and translational research in those diseases. Dr. Simko’s current research is in late-stage clinical development of bispecific antibodies targeting CD20 and CD3 for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. From 2014-2019 he served on the Genentech Innovative Pediatric Oncology Drug Development team, where he conducted strategic planning and medical oversight of multiple phase I and phase II clinical trials in childhood cancer.

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Allan Sison, MD           
Senior Medical Director, Precision for Medicine, Covance

Research Mentor: Michele Redell, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2014-6/2017

Identifying Mechanisms of Chemotherapy Resistance in Leukemia-Initiating Cells

Dr. Sison earned a bachelor of arts in biology and English from Rutgers University. He then obtained a doctorate in medicine from Tufts University School of Medicine. He subsequently earned a certificate in Clinical Investigation from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Sison’s research goal is to identify means to improve therapeutic efficacy in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) through laboratory research and clinical trials. His research has been supported by grants from St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His research has been published in various scientific journals, including Nature, the British Journal of Hematology, Molecular Cancer Research, Oncotarget, and Pediatric Blood and Cancer.

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Alexandra M. Stevens, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Michele Redell, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Terzah Horton, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/1/2013-6/30/2016

Targeting the IL-6/Stat-3 Pathway in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

Dr. Stevens earned a bachelor of science in biology from Duke University. She then obtained a doctorate in medicine from Columbia University–College of Physicians and Surgeons.In 2018, Dr. Stevens earned a PhD in clinical investigation. Dr. Stevens’ research interests lie in improving risk stratification and identifying promising new targets for drug development to treat pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

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Jack M. Su, MD
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine
Hyundai Pediatric Cancer Research Scholar

Research Mentor: Ching C. Lau, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2002-6/2005

Study of Valproic Acid's Neuro-protection Against Radiation, and
Pharmacologic Treatment of Pediatric Patients with Medulloblastomas

Dr. Su earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from Stanford University. He then received a doctorate in medicine from the University of California. In 2007, he completed a master of science in clinical investigation from Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Su's research interest is in translational oncology and developing novel agents for treating pediatric CNS tumors. Since completing his K12 fellowship, Dr. Su has been the principal investigator in completing multiple regional and national clinical trials of valproic acid (NCT00107458, NCT00879437), vorinostat (NCT01189266), and veliparib (NCT00946335, NCT01514201) in pediatric CNS tumors through Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC).

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Matteo Trucco, MD
Director, Children's Cancer Innovative Therapy Program, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Research Mentor: Lawrence A. Donehower, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Jason Yustein, MD, PhD
K12 Appointment: 7/2012-6/2015

Metabolic Inhibition in Pediatric Sarcomas

Dr. Trucco earned a bachelor of arts in biology and philosophy of science from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a doctorate in medicine from Temple University School of Medicine. Dr. Trucco’s training and research focuses on pediatric sarcomas. He currently develops and implements clinical trials focusing on overcoming the resistance to chemotherapy seen in several of these tumors. In addition to his role at the Cleveland Clinic, he serves as a Vice Chair of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Sunshine Consortium, dedicated to conducting innovative clinical trials in pediatric cancer and serves on the Advisory Board of several foundations committed to funding groundbreaking research that will lead to more effective and less toxic therapies for children with cancer.    

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Sarah B. Whittle, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Hematology-Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine

Research Mentor: Jason M. Shohet, MD, PhD
Clinical Mentor: Lisa L. Wang, MD
K12 Appointment: 7/2016-6/2019

Developing Clinical Trials for Osteosarcoma and Neuroblastoma

Dr. Whittle earned her doctorate in medicine from the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, where she remained for pediatric residency.  She came to Texas Children’s Hospital in 2012 for pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship and studied drug development for neuroblastoma in the laboratory of Peter Zage, MD PhD. In 2016, she completed a master of science in clinical investigation from Baylor College of Medicine. As part of the K12 program, she successfully completed and published the results of an investigator initiated clinical trial for patients with newly-diagnosed, high-risk neuroblastoma, and continues to serve as clinical principal investigator for a Cell and Gene Therapy study for relapsed osteosarcoma and neuroblastoma.  After completing the K12, Dr. Whittle was named Director of Clinical Research for the Solid Tumor Programs at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.  Her primary research focus is in developing clinical trials for children with sarcoma and neuroblastoma.

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