October 2015 – New Beginnings

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Canadian Perspectives

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Sarit Assouline, MD, MSc

Dr. Sarit Assouline is a hematologist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and Oncology at McGill University. She received her medical degree from McGill University and completed residencies at both McGill University and the University of Toronto. Dr. Assouline has a master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics from McGill University and completed a fellowship in drug development at the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her research interests are in the clinical development of new therapies for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma.

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Neil Berinstein, MD

Dr. Neil Berinstein earned his pre-medical degree and Medical Doctorate from the University of Manitoba and received further specialty and research training at the University of Toronto and Stanford University. Dr. Berinstein currently holds multiple academic and professional positions, including as a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and he is on the active staff of the Hematology Oncology Site Group at the Odette Cancer Centre of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He is currently the Director of Translational Research at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Dr. Berinstein specializes in the management and research of patients with lymphoproliferative disorders, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and myeloma. Dr. Berinstein has received numerous grants throughout his career for his research, which focuses on the development of novel immunotherapeutic and targeted approaches for cancer and hematologic malignancies. He has published six book chapters and over 100 peer-reviewed, invited, or review papers.

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Ines Chamakhi, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Ines Chamakhi is currently a hematologist and a medical oncologist at the Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Montreal. She completed her post-graduate training in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology at the University of Montreal. Dr. Chamakhi also completed a clinical fellowship in malignant hematology at the Peter McCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. She serves as the Director of the Medical Biology Department at the Sacré-Coeur Hospital and is also a local principal investigator for several non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia trials.

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Graeme Fraser, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Dr. Graeme Fraser graduated from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and completed post-graduate training in Internal Medicine and Hematology at UWO and McMaster University, respectively. His training in malignant hematology was supported by a National Cancer Institute of Canada-Terry Fox Foundation Clinical Research Fellowship. Dr. Fraser is a hematologist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre/Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton, Ontario, and he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology. His research interests include the care of adolescent and young adult cancer patients, clinical trials in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, and practice guideline development as a member of the Cancer Care Ontario Program in Evidence-Based Care.

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Vera Hirsh, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Vera Hirsh, who currently practices in both hematology and oncology, is a Professor in the Department of Oncology at McGill University and Chief of the Hematology-Oncology Service at Santa Cabrini Hospital in Montreal. Her research at the Quebec Pulmonary Unit focuses on the treatment of lung cancer, and she continues to chair ongoing international chemotherapy trials. Dr. Hirsh chaired the Quebec Lung Cancer Committee to establish guidelines for the treatment of lung cancer. In addition, she has published many abstracts, articles, and book chapters. Dr. Hirsh is a member of advisory boards for many pharmaceutical companies and the Medical Oncology Standing Committee of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).

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Nathalie Johnson, MD, PhD

Dr. Nathalie Johnson completed her clinical training in Hematology and Oncology at McGill University. In 2010, she also completed a Ph.D. in Pathology at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, which focused on biomarkers associated with R-CHOP (rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone) resistance in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Dr. Johnson is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and Oncology at McGill University and a Clinician Scientist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. She is the hematologist at the McGill Oncology Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) clinic, where she addresses the needs of AYA patients with lymphoma. Her research focuses on investigating biomarkers for resistance and response to conventional and novel therapies in patients with relapsed or refractory lymphoma.

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Richard LeBlanc, MD

Dr. Richard LeBlanc is a hematologist and medical oncologist at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Montreal, Quebec. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal. Dr. LeBlanc obtained his medical degree at Laval University and is certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology. He worked as a research fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston from 2000 to 2002. Dr. LeBlanc was recruited by Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Montreal to help improve medical care, research, and teaching in multiple myeloma. Dr. LeBlanc is the Chair Holder of the Myeloma Canada Chair at the University of Montreal. He is the Director of the Myeloma Cell Bank at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, affiliated with the Quebec Leukemia Cell Bank. He is also the Medical Chief of the clinical immunology laboratory at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont. Finally, Dr. LeBlanc is a member of the scientific advisory board of Myeloma Canada.

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Matthew Seftel, MD, MPH, MRCP, FRCPC

Dr. Matthew Seftel is the Department Head of Hematology and Oncology at CancerCare Manitoba and the Section of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Seftel’s research interests include leukemia epidemiology and clinical trials in leukemia and lymphoma (including blood and marrow transplantation). He is an investigator with the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) and the Centre for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR).

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Laurie H. Sehn, MD, MPH

Dr. Laurie H. Sehn is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She has been a medical oncologist and clinical investigator with the Lymphoma Tumour Group since 1998. Dr. Sehn has served on the Board of Directors of Lymphoma Canada (LC) since 2002 and is now Director of Research Fellowships for LC. Her research interests include the lymphoid cancers with particular focus on the biology and treatment of large-cell lymphoma, the application of new imaging techniques such as PET scanning to lymphoma management, and innovative new approaches to treatment.

Investigator Commentaries

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Paula Cramer, MD

After Dr. Paula Cramer received her medical degree from the University of Cologne in 2008, she started her fellowship in Internal Medicine, Haematology and Oncology at the University Hospital of Cologne, Germany. During her medical studies, she joined the German CLL Study Group, chaired by Professor Dr. Michael Hallek. Since then Dr. Cramer has worked on several clinical trials for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Currently, she is responsible for several phase II protocols evaluating novel agents, such as ibrutinib, idelalisib, and ABT-199, together with an anti-CD20 antibody in sequential treatment. Dr. Cramer is also the German Principal Investigator for the Helios study, a phase III trial evaluating the addition of ibrutinib to bendamustine and rituximab. Her special interest is the evaluation of combinations of novel agents and the use of clinical and biological prognostic markers for the definition of risk groups and guidance in treatment decisions.

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Alessandro Isidori, MD, PhD

Dr. Alessandro Isidori is an attending physician in the Division of Hematology and Stem Cell Transplant
Centre at San Salvatore Hospital, Italy. He graduated magna cum laude from the Bologna
University School of Medicine in 1999. In 2004, he obtained his specialization in Hematology and
Medical Oncology at the Bologna University School of Medicine, after a seven-year internship at the
Institute of Hematology and Medical Oncology “Seragnoli”. Finally, he got his Ph.D. in Experimental
and Clinical Hematology in 2007 at the Bologna University School of Medicine. He is mainly
involved in clinical trials for the treatment of chronic and acute leukemias, lymphomas, and stem
cell mobilization and transplantation. He has worked extensively in the area of cell therapy at the
Centre for Stem Cell Research of the Bologna University. He is co-author of 70 publications in peerreviewed
journals, more than 200 abstracts, and five book chapters on hematological malignancies.
He is a member of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT), the European
Hematology Association (EHA), the American Society of Hematology (ASH), and the American
Association for Cancer Research (AACR). He is also a member of the editorial board of the following
medical journals: Leukemia Research and Treatment, American Journal of Blood, World Journal of Stem
Cells, and World Journal of Transplantation
.

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Sagar Lonial, MD

Dr. Sagar Lonial is a Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, where he is also Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs for the department and Director of the Translational Research for the B-Cell Malignancy Program. He earned his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, followed by a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Lonial’s clinical interests include evaluating the combination of new molecular targeted agents for B-cell tumours as well as target discovery and validation. In addition, he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Leukemia, is the myeloma editor for Clinical Lymphoma, Myeloma, and Leukemia, and is an invited or ad hoc reviewer for several publications, including Blood, Haematologica, Clinical Cancer Research, The New England Journal of Medicine, and others. Dr. Lonial has authored or co-authored over 200 publications and recently was awarded the Celgene ‘Young Investigator’ Award, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation ‘Top 15 Innovator’ Award, and the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium ‘Center of the Year’ Award.

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Carolyn Owen, MD

Dr. Carolyn Owen completed postgraduate training in internal medicine and hematology at the University of Ottawa and the University of British Columbia, respectively, followed by a research fellowship in molecular genetics at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, UK. Her research focused on familial myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukemia. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Foothills Medical Centre & Tom Baker Cancer Centre, and her clinical interests are low-grade lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. She is also the local principal investigator in Calgary for several clinical trials in these areas.

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Laurie H. Sehn, MD, MPH

Dr. Laurie H. Sehn is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She has been a medical oncologist and clinical investigator with the Lymphoma Tumour Group since 1998. Dr. Sehn has served on the Board of Directors of Lymphoma Canada (LC) since 2002 and is now Director of Research Fellowships for LC. Her research interests include the lymphoid cancers with particular focus on the biology and treatment of large-cell lymphoma, the application of new imaging techniques such as PET scanning to lymphoma management, and innovative new approaches to treatment.