Leona A. Holmberg, MD, PhD

Leona A. Holmberg, MD, PhD

Leona A. Holmberg, MD, PhD

  • Physician, Fred Hutch
  • Professor, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Professor, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch

Medical Oncology

“Caring for patients enriches my life; I get more from them than I think I give.”

— Dr. Holmberg

Why did you become a physician?

During my years at Harvard University, I had diverse interests, from history to different areas of science. I was brought up to be a specialist in a lot of different things, but it was really immunology (the study of how the immune system functions) that grabbed on to my imagination. After working with transplant physicians and researchers, I realized that to do the work I wanted to do, I needed to become a doctor. I went to medical school so I could learn to perform transplants and implement research about how to use immunology to cure cancer.

What’s it like to work with you?

I consider myself very lucky because I love what I do, and that joy is evident in how I care for my patients. I think they appreciate my empathy, compassion and sincerity. When you come in for a visit, I focus on explaining your diagnosis and presenting you with your treatment options so that you can think through how to move forward. There is no right or wrong answer; only you can decide how you want to live your life, and there are no guarantees that any particular therapy will work for you. My role is to give you choices and then support you in whatever path you decide to take.

Provider Background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Cellular Immunotherapy

Blood cancers

As a board-certified medical oncologist, I specialize in providing bone marrow transplantations to people with blood cancers. My expertise extends to immunotherapy and transplantation immunology. I divide my time between caring for patients — about five months out of the year — and conducting clinical trials, up to four or five at a time. I find trials to be fun and intellectually satisfying: If I’m correct in my speculation, and luck is with me, it’s very rewarding. My research focuses on ways to augment the immune system after an autologous transplant (where a patient’s own blood-forming cells are harvested) to prevent relapse of disease and prolong survival. In 2001, I received the first Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award, presented by Fred Hutch, which honors excellence in clinical patient care. I am also a member of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research and the SWOG Cancer Research Network.

Diseases Treated

Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma

Multiple Myeloma



Education, Experience and Certifications

Undergraduate Degree
Harvard University

Medical Degree
University of Miami

University of Washington

University of Washington

Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 1991, 2016, American Board of Internal Medicine

Internship, University of Rochester


All news
Al-Johani Award will support new transplant protocol for Crohn's disease Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center clinical investigator George McDonald will use the prize to 'pay it forward' by studying a new treatment approach for an incurable disease April 29, 2013

Clinical Trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Find a Clinical Trial


Many of our Fred Hutch doctors conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other doctors and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this Fred Hutch provider has written.

View Dr. Holmbergs Publications

Your Care Team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.


Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

For the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with providers.

Email media@fredhutch.org or call 206.667.2210