Providing the very best care includes the relentless pursuit of new ways to cure cancer and hematological diseases. Every day, we are working toward that goal. Our areas of clinical expertise include:
Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer
We care for more teens with cancer than any other program in Illinois. This program provides the unique aspects of care needed by adolescents with cancer. Data from the national cancer Institute confirms that adolescents treated in pediatric centers compare with those treated in adult hospitals have a 20 percent better improvement in survival. That is the reason for the creation of this program under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Reichek, which helps patients with peer interaction, psychosocial support for developmental tasks, fertility preservation, access to the newest clinical trials, teaming with adult hospitals and treatment adherence and clinical trial participation. Learn more here about adolescent and young adult cancer care.
Bone & Soft Tissue Sarcoma
The care of patients with sarcomas requires a team effort and several disciplines in order to have successful outcomes. Dr. David Walterhouse, a member of the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee of the Children's Oncology Group (COG), has the experience and expertise required to coordinate care for this group. He is the study chair for COG ARST0331, a phase III COG Group-Wide study for patients with newly diagnosed low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma. The goal of the study is to optimize outcome and quality of survival for patients with low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma. He also conducts studies of the regulation and function of the GLI1 oncogene. Activation of GLI1 has been associated with the development of rhabdomyosarcoma and other cancers.
Dr. Stewart Goldman
and Dr. Jason Fangusaro
and the neuro surgical team lead by Dr. Tadanori Tomita
(a renowned neurosurgeon) collaborate in this comprehensive program. By having a multidisciplinary staff that discusses its plan at brain tumor board, the team makes decisions about the most appropriate approach for each child. This gives families dedicated time and attention to fully understand their child's illness and make educated decisions regarding care. Dr. Goldman also leads several innovative phase I clinical trials
. Furthermore our team is one of eight members (and the only member in the Midwest) of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC)
, a national group helping diagnose and providing cutting-edge care for rare pediatric brain tumors. Learn more about brain tumors >>
Comprehensive Hemophilia & Thrombophilia Program
The Comprehensive Hemophilia Program is a federally designated hemophilia treatment center that cares for the largest group of children with hemophilia and related bleeding disorders in the region. A multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Alexis Thompson
and Dr. Rukhmi Bhat
provides medical care, education, social support, genetic counseling, dental and physical therapy consultations to hundreds of children and adolescents. Clotting tendencies (thrombophilia) is an emerging area of importance in children and the program provides evaluations to determine the causes of blood clots in children as well as management of children who may need extended treatment with anticoagulation treatment such as heparin and warfarin. The hospital's anticoagulation team is staffed by the on-call hematology MD, an advanced practice nurse in hematology, a pharmacist and cardiologist; they oversee and coordinate the care of children on anticoagulation with the primary team to meet the complex needs of therapy. Learn more about the hemophilia and thrombophilia program >>
Physicians and nurses in the hematology section evaluate nearly 600 new patients each year with non-malignant blood disorders. These include common conditions such as iron-deficiency anemia, benign neutropenia and immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) but also numerous cases of more rare blood diseases that require the experience and expertise for diagnosis and management that can only be found at specialized institutions like ours.
Hemoglobinopathies (Sickle Cell Anemia & Thalassemia)
Drs. Alexis Thompson
, Robert Liem
, A. Kyle Mack
and Horace Smith
lead a team of nurses and other staff to care for children with sickle cell disease and thalassemia. The Comprehensive Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Programs participate in National Institutes of Health, industry and institution-sponsored clinical studies on a regional and national basis. The hospital continues to be a primary location for confirmation, counseling and initiation of treatment of infants identified through the statewide newborn screening program for hemoglobinopathies. The thalassemia program is an active participant in the NHLBI-sponsored Thalassemia Clinical Research Network (TCRN) and has been designated a “Thalassemia Treatment Center of Excellence” by the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies to prevent of blood borne infections and other complications of thalassemia and to devise improved models of comprehensive care. Learn more about the sickle cell anemia
Leukemia & Lymphoma
Our staff members treat the largest numbers of leukemia and lymphoma patients in the Chicago area. Led by Drs. Nobuko Hijiya
and Elaine Morgan
, they treat children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL,) and other leukemias and lymphomas; the children gain access to the newest treatments available through our membership in groups such as the TACL consortium (Therapeutic Advances of Childhood Leukemia) and Phase 1 consortium of Children's Oncology Group. We are one of the only centers in the area offering the newest treatments for leukemia and lymphoma. Learn more about leukemia >>
In a laboratory overseen by Dr. Seth Corey
, the researchers study cancer cell signaling, the biochemical basis for abnormal cell growth, and identify drugs that may target specific cancer promoting molecules. Cancer cells divide indefinitely, fail to die, and do not undergo maturation. His laboratory seeks to learn how these processes occur in myeloid leukemias and the related disorders of myelodysplastic and inherited bone marrow failure syndromes. Cancer cells also invade local tissues and spread to form metastases in vital organs. His laboratory discovered a new protein that alters the invasion and migration of cancer cells.
Bone Marrow Failure Clinic
Dr. Corey's clinical interests lie in chronic and acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes such as juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and bone marrow failure syndromes. Together with Drs. Morris Kletzel
and Alexis Thompson, Dr. Corey and advanced practice nurse Rebekah Maloney
lead a team of pediatric specialists in the diagnosis and management of patients with bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndromes. These disorders are difficult to diagnose and require complex, personalized, and anticipatory management plans. Learn more about bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndromes>>
Pathologists are essential to the care of our patients in order to establish accurate diagnosis using different techniques such as cytogenetics, which is led by Dr. Katrin Carlson Leuer
. Dr. Pauline Chou
specializes in solid tumors. These individuals and others help us provide prompt and exact diagnosis so the team can offer the best treatment possible. The pathology department is headed by Dr. Elizabeth Perlman
, who is an internationally recognized Wilms tumor specialist.
Palliative Care & Hospice
With cure rates approaching 80% for childhood cancers, sometimes even the most advanced medical and surgical options are not enough, and a cure is not to be found. When this happens, a multidisciplinary team of doctors, advanced practice nurses, social workers, chaplains, Child Life therapists and pharmacists works together to provide symptom management and psychosocial support for children and their families.
Dr. Elaine Morgan
is one of the three co-medical directors of the hospital's palliative care service. Board-certified in palliative care medicine, Dr. Morgan is also a co-director for a regional outpatient palliative care and hospice organization and is working on establishing regional access to these services.
PTLD (Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder)
Dr. Joanna Weinstein
leads a comprehensive treatment team for patients with PTLD. Some patients who are recipients of solid organ transplants or have under gone a hematopoietic stem cell transplant develop PTLD. The condition requires a team of expert dedicated physicians to provide the optimal care without losing the graft. As members of the Siragusa transplant center, we provide techniques to treat the disorder.
Retinoblastoma patients are treated by a multi-disciplinary team including oncologists, ophthalmologists, a social worker, a genetics counselor, nurses and an ocularist. The purpose of this approach is not only to save the child’s life but to attempt to preserve eye sight using innovative techniques that include chemotherapy, laser therapy and others. Oncology care is led by Dr. Joanna Weinstein, with a partnership with ophthalmologists Drs. Janice Lasky Zeid
, Marilyn Mets
, Bahram Rahmani
, and Hawke Yoon
. Dedicated social worker Gina Baldacci and genetics counselor Kristin Clemenz are also deeply involved.
We follow all types of patients with solid tumors including neuroblastoma, hepatoblastoma, Wilms tumor and other kidney tumors. This hospital is one of the largest centers enrolling patients on the Children’s Oncology Group trials. Because our surgical expertise in the management of solid tumors and the availability of minimal invasive surgeries by Dr. Marleta Reynolds
and other members of the surgical team, our program offers children with these tumors a comprehensive approach with minimal toxicity and invasiveness. In many cases the multimodal approach of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy gives the patients the best outcomes. A weekly tumor board conference allows the team to meet and discuss the best approach to their specific tumor.
Stem Cell Transplant
We care for more children undergoing stem cell transplants
than any other hospital in the region. This multidisciplinary program, led by Dr. Reggie Duerst
, also records strong outcomes. In 2008, our stem cell medical and surgical complication rates for transplant were 57% and 17% less than the regional or national averages, respectively. The focus of this program is to improve outcomes by decreasing toxicity and take advantage of the biological and immunological properties of transplantation. Our outpatient transplant unit allows us to performed reduced intensity transplants. This is the first and one of only a handful of this type of ambulatory unit for pediatric patients in the world.
Several programs and clinics have been created to provide expert care to individuals with similar diseases or complications post transplant. Dr. William Tse
directs our severe primary immunodeficiency clinic with help from nurse practitioner Jessica Ward
. Dr. Morris Kletzel
and nurse practitioner Kimberly Thormann
lead one of the few comprehensive chronic graft-vs-host disease clinics for pediatric patients offering new approaches and studies to improve the quality of life. Dr. Jennifer Schneiderman
is the director of the therapeutic aphaeresis unit (TAC) where patients can have their peripheral blood stem cells collected; receive treatment with extracorporeal photopheresis for Chronic GVHD and other therapeutic approaches for leukemia patients as well as patients with hemoglobinophaties. Dr. Sonali Chaudhury
has developed a comprehensive clinic for those patients with congenital non malignant diseases that may benefit from stem cell transplantation, such as sickle cell anemia, inborn errors of metabolism.
Staying Healthy After Treatment - The STAR Program
As the cure rate improves, more and more pediatric patients become long-term survivors. This group of patients requires follow up for life through services such as the STAR program to detect long-term effects of their therapy and provide early interventions to minimize these late effects. Survivors’ late effects teach us how to attempt to decrease toxicity for new patients and minimize upfront the effects of therapy. In addition to an active research program involving local patients, the hospital is now also a member of the 30+ institution Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, which is the source of much of what we know about late effects for survivors who are already reaching their 30’s and 40’s.
Dr. Kimberley Dilley serves as director for the STAR program. Her areas of expertise include obesity and low bone density, with her research exploring the overlap between these two problems. This program has two components — the pediatric section at the hospital and an adult component for adult survivors of pediatric cancers. Nurse practitioners Barb Lockart and Karina Danner-Koptik and social worker Meg Crum work closely with Dr. Dilley to address the physical and psychological issues that arise post-treatment. This is a collaborative program with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The STAR Program is one of only a few programs in the country set up like this to actively transition survivors to an adult care setting.
Several of the hospital's surgeons that specialize in the removal of tumors and are members of the surgical committees at the Children’s Oncology Group are dedicated to improve the surgical aspects of cancer; they also involved in the use of minimally invasive surgical approaches to childhood solid tumors. Some of the leaders of this group are: Dr. Marleta Reynolds, Dr. Marybeth Madonna
and Dr. Katherine Barsness
Dr Marybeth Madonna is involved in translational research evaluating tumor resistance to different chemotherapeutic agents and mechanisms on how to overcome resistance.