Early in my career, I was caring for a man, about the same age as me, who was an up-and-coming musician. His leukemia had relapsed and there were no treatment options left that could cure him. He didn’t want to spend the time he had left in a hospital, so I would meet him at a local park or his home to provide palliative care, easing his symptoms and making him comfortable. Although I couldn’t save his life, he made a deep impression on mine: I realized that doing research was the best way to save the lives of people like him. Seeing patients with poor outcomes after transplants drives me to keep searching for answers.
In my clinical practice, I see a lot of patients with complications following bone marrow transplants — a curative therapy for otherwise fatal blood cancers — that can be difficult to address. I go into the lab to understand what’s going on biologically so that I can develop new treatments and try to prevent some of these complications. What I do in the lab is constantly informed by my interactions with patients — I’m always striving to improve their outcomes. When working with me, you can expect to have candid discussions about your illness and your treatment options. I want you to be fully informed, understanding the pros and cons of each choice, so that we can make decisions together.
Area of Clinical Practice
Adult blood and marrow transplantation
As a hematologist and the director of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation at Fred Hutch, I treat patients with blood cancers like leukemia. I also work closely with experts at Fred Hutch to identify ways to combine transplantation with emerging immunotherapies (therapies that harness the immune system) to fight cancer. My background includes leading the bone marrow transplantation and cancer programs at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, and caring for patients at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. As a senior principal research fellow of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, I have co-authored more than 150 journal articles on stem cells, transplantation and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a potentially life-threatening complication of transplantation.
In the lab, I focus on understanding the immunological mechanisms of GVHD and developing novel therapeutic strategies for prevention and treatment. My research has led to the development of multiple new drugs for GVHD, many of which are currently used in patient care or are undergoing clinical trials.
University of Auckland Medical School
Rotorua Hospital; Waikato Hospital
Caterbury Health; Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Teaching Appointment, Queensland Institute of Medical Research
At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes physicians, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like registered dieticians, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
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