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Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology

Saint Louis University's Division of Hematology and Oncology provides a full range of clinical services to children and adolescents with blood disorders and cancer.

The division is committed to advancing the care of children through collaboration with basic science research as well as numerous clinical research programs. We are an active participant in the Children's Oncology Group, the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, and the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, and are one of the founding institutions of the Beat Childhood Cancer Consortium, which is actively investigating innovative approaches to the treatment of childhood cancer. We also participate in several national and pharmaceutical company-sponsored studies in hemostasis and sickle cell disease.

Our referral area extends throughout Missouri and southern Illinois. Inpatient services include a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation unit. Outpatient services are provided within SSM Health Cardinal Glennon's Costas Center and include consultations for new patients, ongoing clinical care for patients with blood disorders or cancer, chemotherapy infusions and blood component transfusions.

Clinical Programs

There are currently seven clinical programs within the division. Our clinical programs include regular multidisciplinary clinics in neuro-oncology, hemostasis, sarcomas, and late effects; the latter also includes specific neuro-oncology and hematopoietic stem cell late effects clinics.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Deepika Bhatla, M.D., serves as our lead transplant physician. The program is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy. It is a designated transplant center for the Children's Oncology Group and a participant in the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium.

Neuro-Oncology Program

This multidisciplinary group encompasses all of the disciplines engaged in caring for these complex patients, including pediatric oncology, pediatric neurology, neurosurgery, and radiation oncology. It also includes a Neuro-Oncology Long-Term Follow-up Clinic. Pournima Navalkele, M.D. is director of the Neuro-Oncology Program.

Hemostasis Program

Ours was the first federally-designated pediatric Comprehensive Hemophilia Treatment Center in the St. Louis area. Christopher Hugge, M.D. is administrative director of this program; John Puetz, M.D. serves as the clinical director. 

Sickle Cell Anemia/Hemoglobinopathies Program

Dr. Dolatshahi is director of this program. SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital is a designated sickle cell center for both Missouri and Illinois.

Sarcoma Program

David Greenberg, M.D., (orthopedic oncology), William Ferguson, M.D., (pediatric oncology), and John Dombrowski, M.D., (radiation oncology) are the principal participants in this program, which provides state-of-the-art treatment for children with bone and soft tissue sarcomas.

Apheresis Program

Alex Babic, M.D., serves as the medical director of this program.

Late Effects

John Puetz, M.D., is the physician director of this program.

Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Training

Members of the division take an active role in the education of residents and medical students, both by providing didactic lectures as well as serving as attending physician supervision for subspecialty and general pediatric patients and supervising residents and students doing electives in hematology-oncology. The Division's Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Fellowship is under the leadership of Dr. Hugge.

Research

Aleksandar Babic, M.D.

The research interests of Aleksandar Babic, M.D., are focused on the evaluation of outcomes of umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation. Dr. Babic was recruited as Medical Director at St. Louis Cord Blood Bank and subsequently became medical director the con combined Saint Louis University Cellular Therapy Laboratory.

Deepika Bhatla, M.D.

The research interests of Deepika Bhatla, M.D., include the treatment of acute leukemias and lymphomas (with particular reference to the influence of host polymorphisms on disease incidence and response to treatment) and stem cell transplantation with a special interest in umbilical cord blood transplantation. She serves as institutional co-principal investigator for the Primary Immune Deficiencies Treatment Consortium (PIDTC), including Protocol #6901 ("A Prospective Natural History Study of Diagnosis, Treatment and Outcomes of Children with SCID Disorders") and as institutional Principal Investigator for the National Marrow Donor Program protocol 10-CBA ("A multicenter access and distribution protocol for unlicensed and cryopreserved cord blood units (CBUs) for transplantation in pediatric and adult patients with hematological malignancies and other indications"). She is also the institutional PI for the multicenter trial entitled "A Study of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) in Pediatric Non-Malignant Disease Using a Reduced-Intensity Preparatory Regimen."

Leili Dolatshahi, M.D.

 

Leili Dolatshahi, M.D.,'s major clinical research interests include participation in a clinical trial designed to improve the outcome of sickle cell disease. She is co-investigator for an ongoing clinical trial, "Adjuvant low dose rituximab for the patients with severe TTP."
William S. Ferguson, M.D.

William S. Ferguson, M.D.,'s research interests include participation in front-line Children's Oncology Group studies treating newly diagnosed osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, and other soft tissue sarcomas; clinical trials evaluating new antineoplastic agents in the treatment of solid tumors, in particular neuroblastoma; personalized medicine utilizing new technologies for evaluating genetic profiles of tumors; and new drug therapies to prevent and treat complications of sickle cell disease. He is the institutional Principal Investigator for the Children's Oncology Group and the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium.

 

Christopher Hugge, M.D.

Major clinical research interests include continued participation in clinical trials designed to improve drug treatment of children with bleeding disorders and participation in clinical trials conducted through the Children's Oncology Group.

John Puetz, M.D.

Clinical research interests focus on treating and controlling complications of bleeding and thrombotic disorders in children, including participation in studies funded by the MCHB and CDC. Of particular interest is the development of novel agents to treat hemophilia, thrombosis, and the use of fresh frozen plasma in pediatric patients.

Shermini Saini, M.D.

Clinical research interests include stem cell transplantation and improving the utilization of palliative and end-of-life care in children with chronic, complex, and life-limiting illnesses. She is Medical Director for CGCH's palliative care program, Footprints.

Publications, Abstracts and Presentations

Publications
  • Ferguson WS. Kids clot, too—just not like adult. J Pediatr. 2016 May;172:1-4.

  • Ferguson WS. Iron deficiency anemia: like mother, like child. J Pediatr. 2016 Aug;175:1-4.

  • Ferguson WS. Iron deficiency: a new alternative when oral iron fails. J Pediatr. 2017 Jan;180:2.

  • Ferguson WS. Red cell antibody formation in the newborn. J Pediatr. 2017 Feb;181:3-4.

  • Ferguson WS. Iron deficiency in adolescence. J Pediatr. 2017 Aug;187:2.

  • Ferguson W. Combination immune-based therapy for chronic ITP. J Pediatr. 2017 Dec; 191:1.

  • Ferguson, WS and Babic, A. Hematopoietic Stem Cells: Donor Selection, Mobilization, Collection, Processing and Preservation.  Chapter for "Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for the Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist" (editor V. Brown), Springer International Publishing AG, 2018.

  • Ferguson WS.  50 years ago in The Journal of Pediatrics: A study of “Total Therapy” of acute lymphocytic leukemia in children. J Pediatr 2018 Mar; 194:115.

  • Ferguson WS. The incidental detection of alpha thalassemia. J Pediatr 2018 April; 195:3.

Abstracts
  • Sholler G, Ferguson W, Bergendahl G, Bond J, Roberts W, Eslin D, Bredlau A, Oesterheld J, Mitchell D, Foley J, Parikh N, Neville K, Wada R, Brown V, Zage P, Eshun F, Rawwas J, Sencer D, Pankiewicz D, Quinn M, Kraveka J. A Phase II Prevention Trial Of DFMO in Patients with High Risk Neuroblastoma in Remission Prevents Relapse and Increases Event Free and Overall Survival.  Presented at the American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology meeting, May 2016

  • Sholler G, Ferguson W, Bergandahl G, Bond J, Neville K, Eslin D, Robertgs W, Wada R, Oesterheld J, Mitchell D, Foley J, Brown V, Parikh N, Ashun F, Zage P, Rawwas J, Sencer S, Pankiewicz D, Quinn M, Rich M, Junewick J, Wicha M, Kraveka J. DFMO maintains remission and increases overall survival in high risk neuroblastoma: results of a phase II prevention trial (#88). Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Congress 2016.

  • Wilson JZ, Marin D, Maxwell K, Cumming J, Berger R, Saini S, Ferguson W, Chibnall JT.  Associations of patient, family and healthcare team psychosocial factors with posttraumatic growth and illness-related burden in child and adolescent cancer survivors.  Presented at the Children’s Oncology Group meeting, September 2016.

  • Wilson JZ, Marin D, Maxwell K, Cumming J, Berger R, Saini S, Ferguson W, Chibnall JT.  Associations of patient, family and healthcare team psychosocial factors with posttraumatic growth and illness-related burden.  Presented at the Washington University Institute for Public Health 9th Annual conference, November 2016.

  • Saulnier-Sholler GL, Ferguson W, Bergendahl G, Bond JP, Neville K, Eslin D, Brown V, Roberts W, Wada RK, Oesterheld J, Mitchell D, Foley J, Parikh NS, Eshun F, Zage P, Rawwas J, Sencer S, Pankiewicz D, Rich M, Kraveka JM. DFMO Maintains Remission in Relapsed/Refractory High Risk Neuroblastoma.  Accepted for the American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology meeting, April, 2017

  • Stramer SL, Nguyen M, Smith S, Ferguson W, Regan D, Duncan J, Tang S, Stanley J, Galel S.  Feasibility of using umbilical cord blood plasma for detection of HEV RNA. 27th Regional Conference of the International Society of Blood Transfusion, June 2017.

  • Cornelius A, Kraveka J, Ferguson B, Mitchell D, Roberts W, Oesterheld J, Bond J, Nagulapally A, Hendricks W, Byron S6 Trent J, Sholler G. Genomic analysis and precision therapy for recurrent and resistant Ewing's sarcoma. 2nd Pediatric Precision Oncology Conference, March 2018.

  • Ferguson W, Cornelius A, Kraveka J, Roberts W, Oesterheld J, Bond J, Nagulapally AB, Hendricks W, Byron S, Trent J, Saulnier Sholler G. Genomic analysis and precision therapy for recurrent and resistant osteosarcoma. 2nd Pediatric Precision Oncology Conference, March 2018.

  • Kraveka JM, Ferguson W, Cornelius A, Mitchell D, Roberts W, Oesterheld J, Bond J, Nagulapally AB, Hendricks W, Byron S, Trent J, Saulnier Sholler G. Genomic analysis and precision therapy for high risk neuroblastoma at diagnosis and relapse. 2nd Pediatric Precision Oncology Conference, March 2018.

  • Kraveka J, Brown V, Ferguson W, Bergendahl G, Roberts W, Foley J, Mitchell D, Oesterheld J, Isakoff M, Neville K, Wada R, Rawwas J, Hanna G, Nagulapally AB, Bond J, Trent J, Hendricks W, Byron S, Saulnier Sholler GL. Peds-PLAN, pediatric precision laboratory advanced neuroblastoma therapy: Molecular guided therapy for high risk neuroblastoma at diagnosis.  Advances in Neuroblastoma Research, May, 2018.

Presentations

Deepika Bhatla, M.D.

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Leili Dolatshahi, M.D.

  • “Severe Warm Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in a 7-month-old Infant Associated With a Mycoplasma Pneumoniae Infection” (Journal of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, November 2017
  • SCHOLARSHIP
  • Dissemination and Implementation of Stroke Prevention Looking at the Care Environment (DISPLACE Study), Site Investigator (July 2017 – now)
  •  Sickle cell and hemoglobinopathies of Illinois State, Principal Investigator (July 2017 – now)
  • Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Pediatric Hemoglobinopathy Resource Center Service, Principal Investigator (June 2017 – now)

William Ferguson, M.D.

  • "Consent, Research Ethics, and Clinical Trials." Combined BMT Program Advanced Practice Nurse curriculum, March 2016.
  • Neonatal Tumors.” NICU teaching conference, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, 2016
  • “Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).” Sixth Annual Jeffrey Modell Foundation CME Conference on Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases, Saint Louis, MO, 2016
  • “Ornithine Decarboxylase as a Therapeutic Target in High-Risk Neuroblastoma.” Grand Rounds, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, 2017.
  • “Neuroblastoma: Staging and Treatment Strategies.” Surgery-Heme Onc Rounds, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, 2017.
  • “Ornithine Decarboxylase as a Therapeutic Target in High-Risk Neuroblastoma.” Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Grand Rounds, Saint Louis Children’s Hospital:, 2018

John Puetz, M.D.

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Shermini Saini, M.D.

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