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Building a Leukemia Destination Program

Aug 22, 2023, 13:47 PM by Nyla Sauter

Strategic recruitment of clinical faculty and investigators, coupled with technological and infrastructure investments, continue to build Cincinnati's blood cancer expertise.

Over the past decade, five-year survival rates for people with leukemia, lymphoma and other hematological malignancies have greatly improved. New treatments are being developed at a record pace, and the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center’s leukemia destination program is contributing to this work. In 2022, the Cancer Center continued to expand its expertise in hematological malignancies to provide the most advanced care to patients with leukemia in Ohio and surrounding regions while also supporting basic science and clinical/translational research in the field. Hematologic malignancy was once a diagnosis that led patients to leave town for care. But with recent investments, the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center has quickly become a destination for patients seeking the best care. 

The Cancer Center recruited seven new team members, including Edward Faber Jr., DO, MS, a CAR T-cell therapy expert; Zulfa Omer, MD, a chronic lymphocytic leukemia expert; and Hira Shaikh, MD, a multiple myeloma and transplant expert. They join an existing cadre of experts, including Bryan Hambley, MD, MPH; Emily Curran, MD; Tahir Latif, MBBS, MBA; and Pier Paolo Scaglioni, MD. It also began development of a new Blood Cancer Healing Center, as well as continuing to move forward with basic and clinical research.

Cancer Center Leukemia team meetingThese new additions join the critical elements already in place at the University of Cincinnati, UC Health and Cincinnati Children’s. The Cancer Center’s leukemia program now offers: 

1. Access to advanced diagnostic tests and technologies, including molecular profiling, flow cytometry, cytogenetics and immunohistochemistry, to accurately identify the type and subtype of leukemia and guide treatment decisions. 

2. Access to a wide range of treatments, 
including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant and cellular therapies, including CAR T-cell therapy. 

3. Clinical trials 
that offer new and promising therapies for patients who do not respond to standard treatments or who have relapsed or have refractory disease. 

4. A Cancer Wellness Center 
that provides supportive care services, including management of coexisting health conditions, access to integrative therapies (such as acupuncture and yoga) and survivorship care. 

“We have quickly built a nidus to support early drug development and leading-edge treatments,” says John C. Byrd, MD, senior advisor to the Cancer Center and the Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Endowed Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine in UC’s College of Medicine. “The people in the tristate area deserve to have empathetic, state-of-the-art care for leukemia. We seek to serve them while also helping patients from all over the world.”