Christopher R. Flowers, MD, MS
Christopher R. Flowers, MD, MS is a member of the Lymphoma Research Foundation's (LRF) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and is Director of the Lymphoma Program and Medical Director of the Oncology Data Center in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Flowers finds that being part of LRF's SAB allows for an ideal place to interact with internationally renowned colleagues focused on the cure of these important diseases. "Together we have been involved in reviewing some of the most important ground breaking science, understanding and developing new treatments for these diseases, and providing resources for the best of these studies to take place," he said.
Dr. Flowers earned his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine. He also earned an MS degree in Medical Information Systems at Stanford and an MS in Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy at the University of Washington. Among his awards and honors, Dr. Flowers was the first recipient of the American Society of Hematology/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Amos Faculty Development Award and a recipient of a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Clinician and Scholar Award, both of which have been tremendous springboards for launching his career in lymphoma research.
He began his research at Stanford with broad interests in clinical and translational research and immunology. At Stanford, while working with Dr. Kenneth Melmon, he focused his research on clinical pharmacology and understanding the role that clinical investigators play in translating basic science discoveries into the development of new drugs. "My initial interest in lymphoma came from my clinical work with Dr. Oliver Press, an LRF SAB member, and his colleagues, Drs. Steven Liu, David Maloney, and Stephen Petersdorf at the University of Washington," said Dr. Flowers. "My interest in the field was sparked from the breadth and depth of clinical and scientific inquiry of which I was exposed to in a vast array of lymphoma patients."
Dr. Flowers continues to be intrigued by lymphoma patient care and clinical and translational research. "Every lymphoma patient offers the opportunity for new discovery about the disease and requires individualization of general management strategies," he said. For example, Dr. Flowers' research team discovered that African American patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) are diagnosed at a younger age than White patients, and are more likely to have advanced stage disease. "We now know from the work of other investigators that DLBCL can be separated into at least three different biological types," explained Dr. Flowers. "In certain settings, we have found that African Americans have poorer outcomes even when the same treatments are given, and we want to determine whether a poor risk biological subtype of DLBCL is more common in African American patients. We are testing samples from African American patients that we have collected to determine whether a poor risk biological type occurs more commonly in these patients. Ultimately, uncovering the factors related to an increased likelihood of poor risk DLBCL among African Americans could help all patients with poor risk DLBCL or even individuals at risk for developing this disease."
The field of lymphoma is one of the fastest growing areas of cancer research and translational research into clinical practice. "There are a number of new applications of antibody technology in several lymphoma subtypes, and several new compounds that could eventually dramatically change the management of low-grade and aggressive B-cell lymphomas that are based on an improved understanding of the biology of these diseases," he explained. "This trend is likely to be expanded upon in the future with our increasing understanding of distinct subtypes of each lymphoma based on their biological origin and behavior."
The management of lymphoma is an intricate mystery and is the main reason why Dr. Flowers is excited to go to work every day. "Because the management of lymphoma is complex and constantly changing, newly diagnosed patients should seek counsel from pathologists and hematological oncologists who are experts in the diagnosis and management of lymphomas," he advised.
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