Faculty Biographies

March 25–26, 2022, Virtual Meeting

Elias Jabbour

Elias Jabbour, MD

MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA

Elias Jabbour, MD, is professor of medicine, Department of Leukemia, at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), Houston, Texas. He graduated from the Saint Joseph University School of Medicine, Beirut, and joined the Hotel Dieu de France University Hospital as a resident. He pursued a fellowship in hematology-oncology at the Gustave Roussy Institute, France. In 2003, he joined MDACC as a fellow in the Department of Hematology/Leukemia and Stem Cell Transplantation. He later joined the faculty in the Leukemia Department as assistant professor.

Dr Jabbour is actively involved in research in both acute and chronic forms of leukemia. He was involved in clinical trials that led to the approval of several drugs in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He actively assisted in developing chemotherapeutic and biologic agents in leukemias and contributed to the development of others. Dr Jabbour has designed more than a dozen clinical trials assessing new combinations for the management of de novo ALL, elderly ALL, and relapsed/refractory disease. Of note, he developed a protocol that has shown significant improvements in survival rates for patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive ALL. In addition, he developed another innovative treatment approach for these patients by combining blinatumomab, a bispecific monoclonal antibody, with ponatinib, offering a chemotherapy-free regimen that it is hoped will further increase cure rates. Another area on which he focused his research is elderly patients with ALL. The aggressive biology of the disease and elderly patients’ poor tolerance of intensive chemotherapy leads to low survival rates for this patient population.

Dr Jabbour is currently investigating an innovative strategy combining new monoclonal antibodies such as inotuzumab ozogamicin, a conjugated anti-CD22 antibody, and blinatumomab with minimal chemotherapy. If successful, such strategies will likely increase the cure rates of adult patients with ALL to the high level achieved in pediatric patients.

Dr Jabbour has taken an active role in the medical community, participating in numerous scientific meetings. He has authored or co-authored numerous publications (>550 peer-reviewed publications) and abstracts, and serves as a reviewer for many scientific journals. He has received several prestigious awards, among them merit awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2005, 2006, 2007) and the American Society of Hematology (2005, 2006, 2007). He also received several other honors, including the Kimberly Patterson and Shannon Timmons fellowships and the highly coveted Celgene Future Leader in Hematology (2007) and Young Investigator in Hematology (2016) awards.

Naval Daver

Naval Daver, MD

MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), USA

Dr Naval Daver is an associate professor and director of the Leukemia Research Alliance Program in the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, TX. He is a clinical investigator with a focus on molecular and immune therapies in AML and myeloid disease, and is principal investigator on more than 25 ongoing institutional, national, and international clinical trials in these diseases. These trials focus on developing a personalized therapy approach by targeting specific mutations or immune pathways expressed by patients with AML, evaluating novel combinations of targeted, immune, and cytotoxic agents, and identifying and overcoming mechanisms of resistance. He is especially interested in developing monoclonal and bispecific antibodies, immune checkpoint and vaccine-based approaches, as well as targeted and apoptotic therapies in AML, and he is leading a number of these trials at MDACC. Dr Daver has published over 240 peer-reviewed manuscripts and is on the editorial board of numerous hematology journals.

Franco Locatelli

Franco Locatelli, MD

University of Rome, IRCCS Ospedale Pediatrico, Bambino Gesù, Italy

Prof Franco Locatelli is head of the Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, IRCCS Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome, and full professor of pediatrics at the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy. He leads the largest program of childhood allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in Italy and was recently appointed president of the Italian Higher Council of Health (Consiglio Superiore di Sanità), the technical scientific advisory body to the Ministry of Health. He graduated in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in Italy, where he also obtained a specialization in pediatrics and hematology. In 2005, he received the Gold Medal for Merit in public health by the president of the Italian Republic.

Prof Locatelli is an expert in childhood hematologic and oncologic malignancies. He was the president of the Italian Association for Pediatric Hematology-Oncology from 2004 to 2006, and served as chairman of the EWOG-MDS consortium from 2005 to 2011. Currently, he coordinates the national protocols for children with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia and relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He has implemented in Italy the first-in-human academic studies on children with CD19+ lymphoid malignancies using second-generation retroviral chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and on children with GD2+ neuroblastoma.

Prof Locatelli is also involved in the development and validation of gene therapy approaches in patients with thalassemia and sickle cell disease and he has extensive experience in running phase I/II clinical trials. He is the author or co-author of 1,070 peer-reviewed articles published in international journals and he has an overall impact factor above 5000 and an H-index of 99 (Scopus source).

María Sara Felice

María Sara Felice, MD, PhD

Hospital Garrahan, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Maria Sara Felice, MD, PhD, leads the acute leukemia and lymphoma section at Hospital  Garrahan, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is vice director of the fellowship program of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, in pediatric hematology and oncology at Hospital Garrahan. She earned her medical degree at the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina. She completed a 3-year training program in pediatrics at the Hospital de Ninos de Cordoba, followed by 3-year fellowship training in pediatric hematology and oncology at the Hospital de Pediatria Garrahan and 1 year as chief of fellows at that institution. She then became staff physician at the Hospital Garrahan in the acute leukemia and lymphoma section. She earned her PhD from the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Prof Felice develops research activities in collaboration with national and international groups. She is principal investigator at her hospital for a study between Europe and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States to improve the biologic diagnosis of childhood leukemia, refine the risk-stratification of patients, and help to harmonize the outcome of children with acute leukemia between regions. Additionally, her hospital participates in international protocols for acute leukemia treatment, and she works on the steering committee of the upcoming ALLIC 2020 protocol.

Prof Felice has participated in more than 400 presentations at national and international meetings. She has published more than 70 peer-review papers in specialty journals during her professional career, mainly related to acute leukemia in childhood.

Olga Paola Omaña

Olga Paola Omaña, MD

Central Military Hospital, Colombia

Olga Paola Omaña, MD, is a specialist in internal medicine and hematology at Hematóloga en Clínica del Country y Hospital Militar Central, Bogotá, Colombia. She earned her medical degree from Fundación Universitaria de Ciencias de la Salud in Bogotá. She also earned a master’s degree in stem cell transplantation from Valencia University in Spain. In 2017, she completed a special rotation as an observer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Leukemia Department. Dr Omaña has worked in university hospitals since 2017, initially at Hospital Universitario Clínica San Rafael, and then at Hospital Militar Central, a special regimen center where her focus was benign hematology, lymphoma, leukemia, and autologous stem cell transplant. She later moved on to Clínica del Country, where she currently works as a hematologist. Dr Omaña’s research interest is in acute leukemias and cellular therapy.

José Maria Ribera

José Maria Ribera, MD, PhD

Catalan Institute of Oncology, University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Spain

José Maria Ribera is chief of the Clinical Hematology Department and the Stem Cell Transplantation Unit at the Catalan Institute of Oncology University Hospital ‘Germans Trias i Pujol’ in Badalona, Barcelona, Spain. He is also a professor of medicine and hematology at the Autònoma University of Barcelona. After gaining his medical degree, Prof Ribera specialized in hematology at the Hospital Clínic Barcelona, before completing his PhD in the Clinical Hematology Department.

Prof Ribera’s main areas of scientific interest include acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and lymphomas arising in HIV-infected patients. President of the foundation of the cooperative Spanish Hematology Treatment Program (PETHEMA) and chairman of the PETHEMA Adult ALL Program, Prof Ribera is a member of the steering committee of the European LeukemiaNet and of the European Working Group for Adult ALL (EWALL). A reviewer for many hematology and oncology journals, he has authored or co-authored more than 485 articles in international peer-reviewed journals (H index 60), as well as 100 book chapters on hematology and oncology.

Eunice Wang

Eunice Wang, MD

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, USA

Dr. Eunice Wang is the Chief of the Leukemia Service at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Wang joined the Roswell Park faculty in 2003 and was appointed to the Leukemia Service of the Department of Medicine. She earned her medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California and completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University, New Haven, CT in 1999. From 1999 to 2003, she completed a clinical hematology-oncology and research fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY.

She is licensed in New York State and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (Internal Medicine 1999; Medical Oncology, 2002; Medical Hematology, 2004). She also is an Assistant Professor, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, University of Buffalo. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research, and American Society of Hematology.

Dr. Wang’s clinical research focuses on the development of early stage clinical trials for acute leukemias (AML, ALL) and myeloproliferative disorders. Her translational research interests involve the development of novel biological therapies targeting the bone marrow microenvironment for myeloid malignancies. Dr. Wang has authored/co-authored over 90 peer-reviewed articles, multiple book chapters, and editorials. She is a prior recipient of a NIH Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award (CCITLA) in recognition of her contributions to clinical cancer research and a Mentored Research Scholar award from the American Cancer Society. In addition to her research, Dr. Wang maintains an active clinical practice.

Oscar Ramella

Dr. Oscar González Ramella

University of Guadalajara, Mexico

Oscar González Ramella was born on October 19, 1967 in the city of Guadalajara Mexico. In 1985 he entered the Faculty of Medicine and graduated in 1991 obtaining the Robins Award for being the highest average of his entire generation. During his undergraduate studies, he made academic stays in Havana, Cuba and in Hamburg, Germany. In 1992 he entered the specialty of Pediatrics at the Hospital Civil de Guadalajara. During this period, he obtained a university scholarship to carry out half of his specialty at the University of Tübingen in Germany. At the end of it, he decided to apply for a scholarship from the German government and was awarded a DAAD scholarship to carry out the subspecialty in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, which ended in 1999. During his specialty, he also entered the Doctorate in Biomedical Sciences with an orientation to Immunology from the same University of Tübingen under the tutelage of Dr. Rupert Handretinger and directed the study of NK Cells. He finished his doctorate in 2000, carried out his last study for a year at the Hospital Valle de Hebrón in Barcelona Spain, where he acquired the super-specialty in Hematopoietic Progenitor Transplants

In 2002 he entered the Civil Hospital of Guadalajara. In March 2003, he performed the first transplants in the West of the country, Dr. González Ramella has performed more than 130 bone marrow transplants with his team.

His lines of research are directed to the immunology of tumors. He is a member of the National System of Researchers by CONCACYT since 2001, he has published multiple articles in high impact indexed reviews, including prestigious journals such as Lancet or BMT. It has more than 10 textbook chapters. He has been awarded several awards, including the First Place of the National Research Award in Pediatric Oncology on two occasions in 2005 and 2013, the Dr. Juan López y López Academic Merit Award. He has collaborated with the St Jude Research Children Hospital as Medical Director for Mexico for more than 10 years. He was President of the Mexican Association of Oncohematology from 2015 to 2016 and President of the Mexican Group of Bone Marrow Transplants 2016 to 2017. He is currently Head of the Hematopoietic Progenitor Transplant Unit of the Civil Hospital and Director of the Onkokid Pediatric Oncology Private Clinic.

Wellington Silva

Wellington Silva, MD

Hospital Regional de São José, Brazil

Wellington Silva, MD, is a hematologist from the acute leukemia team in the Instituto do Cancer do Estado de Sao Paulo (ICESP), from the University of Sao Paulo. He graduated from the University of Pernambuco School of Medicine. He concluded the Internal Medicine residency at Hospital das Clínicas from the Federal University of Pernambuco. He finished the Fellowship in Hematology and Transfusion Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo in 2016, being hired by USP as an Attending Physician. He is also concluding his Ph.D. course in the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine.

Currently, Dr. Silva is actively involved in the Hematology fellowship training and clinical research in Acute Leukemia. He participates in several clinical trials as a sub-investigator encompassing new agents for acute leukemias, myelodysplastic syndromes, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Dr. Silva has organized all databases on acute leukemia at ICESP, reporting local outcomes and exploring specificities in treating acute leukemia in resource-constrained settings. In addition, he has organized local recommendations for ALL treatment and is currently working on prospective initiatives on ALL for adult patients through cooperation among reference centers. Standardization of genetic testing and asparaginase-based protocols are the primary short-term goals of this protocol.

Dr. Silva has taken an active role in the medical community, participating in numerous local scientific meetings. He has authored or co-authored some publications and abstracts and serves as a reviewer for scientific journals. He has received Abstract Achievement Awards from the American Society of Hematology (2019, 2021). He pursues a teaching and research career in the university, aiming to improve acute leukemia outcomes in his country through research.

Roberta Demichelis

Roberta Demichelis, MD

Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico

Roberta Demichelis, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán (INCMNSZ) in Mexico City, Mexico. She graduated from the Universidad Anáhuac School of Medicine in Mexico. She completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in hematology at the INCMNSZ. She later joined the faculty of the same institution, where she currently serves as the acute leukemia service coordinator.

Dr Demichelis is involved in clinical research with a focus on acute leukemia. She is coordinator of the Acute Leukemia Working Group of the Mexican Society of Hematology (Agrupación Mexicana para el Estudio de la Hematología). The group is carrying out different prospective multicentric studies focused on characterizing patients with acute leukemia and improving outcomes in the region. She actively participates in international American Society of Hematology initiatives, and was invited to be part of the Clinical Research Training Institute in Latin America faculty group.

Carlos Andrés Portilla Figueroa

Carlos Andrés Portilla, MD

Centro Médico Imbanaco, Hemato-Oncólogo Pediátrico, Cali, Colombia

Dr Carlos Andrés Portilla Figueroa is a pediatric hematologist and oncologist, and a professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Valle, Colombia. He received his medical degree at the National University of Colombia. Later, he completed his fellowship at the Juan P. Garrahan Hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dr Portilla Figueroa has published many articles in journals such as Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Pediatric Blood & Cancer, and Revista Gastrohnup. He has participated in many conferences such as the International Society of Paediatric Oncology, World Federation of Hemophilia, and the Congreso Colombiano de Pediatría. He is also a member of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology, the Latin American Society of Pediatric Oncology, and the Colombian Association of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.

Rob Pieters

Rob Pieters, MD, PhD

Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology,
University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Rob Pieters, MD, PhD, is chief medical officer at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology and professor of pediatric oncology at the University of Utrecht, both in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He obtained his medical degree at the Free University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, followed by his PhD with a thesis on drug resistance in leukemia. After finishing his training in pediatrics, he received a clinical fellowship in pediatric oncology from the Dutch Cancer Society. From 1999–2014, he was head of pediatric oncology/hematology at the Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam. From 2000–2017 he was professor of pediatric oncology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and is now professor of pediatric oncology at the University of Utrecht. Prof Pieters is one of the founders of the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology. This national center is a unique innovation in health care, as it has merged experts and expertise from all former childhood cancer centers in the Netherlands, thereby establishing the largest center in Europe for treatment and research of childhood cancer.

Prof Pieters chairs and is a member of different boards of international childhood cancer study groups and data safety monitoring boards for childhood cancer. He is the recipient of several awards, including the 1992 SIOP Schweisguth Prize for his research and the 2014 ODAS Award for his achievements in pediatric cancer. In 2018, he received a Royal knighthood decoration as Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for his work and dedication to children with cancer, especially for founding the Princess Máxima Center. Prof Pieters is well published in the medical literature, with over 600 book chapters and papers on childhood cancer in peer-reviewed journals.

Christina Peters

Christina Peters, MD

St. Anna Children’s Hospital, Stem Cell Transplantation Unit, Vienna, Austria

Dr Christina Peters is professor of pediatrics at the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation at St. Anna Children’s Hospital in Vienna, Austria.

Dr Peters is principal investigator of active studies within the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) and International BFM Study Group (I-BFM) for the treatment of pediatric leukemia. Her research interests include allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation in children and adolescents with malignant and non-malignant diseases from related and unrelated donors, infectious and toxic complications after stem cell transplantation, adoptive therapies for hematologic malignancies, and family-oriented rehabilitation for children with life threatening diseases.

Dr Peters chaired the EBMT Pediatric Diseases Working Party between 2008 and 2014. As an expert speaker she has presented on a variety of topics at many symposia, meetings, and seminars. She has authored and co-authored numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Bone Marrow Transplantation, Blood, Vox Sanguinis, Leukemia, Haematologica, British Journal of Haematology, and Pediatric Clinics of North America. She acts as a regular reviewer of publications for hematology, pediatric, and leukemia journals. Dr Peters is a member of many professional societies including I-BFM, the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, the German and Austrian Society of Pediatric Hematology, and the Austrian Gene Therapy Commission. Furthermore, Dr Peters is a member of the advisory board of the Austrian Ministry of Health, the bioethical committee of the Austrian Prime Minister, and member of the European Network of Paediatric Research at the European Medicines Agency.

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Adriana Seber, MD, GRAACC

Federal University of Sao Paulo, San Paulo, Brazil

Bio coming soon.

Sergio Giralt

Sergio Giralt, MD, FACP, FASTCT

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA

Dr Sergio A. Giralt is a board-certified hematologist-oncologist. He trained and worked for many years at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was deputy chair of the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapies. In May 2010, he joined the faculty of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to lead the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service and served as chief until February 2020.

Dr Giralt’s clinical activity and research focus on stem cell transplantation for patients with blood disorders. His research focus has been on improving treatments for older patients who have acute and chronic leukemia. He and his colleagues pioneered the use of reduced-intensity conditioning regimens for older or more debilitated patients with blood cancers. The development of these less intense and less toxic regimens has allowed transplants to be performed for older patients in a safe and effective manner and has changed the standard of care throughout the world. He plans to continue this research in the context of pioneering T-cell depletion techniques developed at MSKCC. This new approach has dramatically reduced the risk of graft-versus-host disease, a serious complication of donor stem cell transplantation. Disease recurrence after transplantation remains an important cause of treatment failure, and Dr Giralt is a proponent of post-transplant maintenance therapies using a variety of targeted therapies, which they continue to explore at MSKCC.

Dr Giralt is an expert in the treatment of multiple myeloma. His research in this area has focused on developing new conditioning regimens for autologous transplant, as well as developing strategies that will reduce symptom burden and make the treatment so tolerable that it can be done on an outpatient basis. His team’s goal is to deliver the most effective therapies with minimum symptom burden. He led the Myeloma Intergroup Committee of the Blood and Marrow Clinical Trials Network, which developed the current national study looking at the role of consolidation therapy after autologous stem cell transplant for patients with myeloma.

As a strong believer in collaborative science among large academic centers, Dr Giralt has been involved in many multi-institutional projects and until recently chaired the executive board of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. He is also the past chair of the steering committee of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network.

Stephanie Dixon

Stephanie Dixon, MD, MPH

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH), USA

Stephanie Dixon is an Assistant Member in the Division of Cancer Survivorship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH) , Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Dixon received her medical degree from the University of Michigan College of Medicine and completed training in a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She then pursued a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at SJCRH, followed by an additional year of training in childhood cancer survivorship. Concurrent with her fellowship, she completed a Master’s degree in Public Health with a focus in applied epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Following completion of her training, she joined the faculty at SJCRH in the Division of Cancer Survivorship where she specializes in the care of childhood cancer survivors as well as children newly diagnosed with Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Dr. Dixon is actively involved in clinical research focused on late health outcomes after childhood cancer treatment including studies focused on late mortality and chronic health conditions in survivors as well as targeted interventions to prevent or mitigate late-effects of cancer therapy.