Dr. Kristie Blum

Dr. Kristie Blum is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Fellowship Training Program in the Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology, and Director of the Lymphoma Program of the Division of Hematology in the Division of Hematology at The Ohio State (OSU) University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Blum received her medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine. She also completed a residency at the University of Virginia and Fellowships at Washington University and Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Kristie Blum

Dr. Blum's current research focus is on developing novel targeted therapies for patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin's lymphoma and aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL), Diffuse Large B-Cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and transformed lymphomas. Dr. Blum is primarily involved in phase I and phase II clinical trials focused on targeted agents with less toxicity than current combination chemotherapy approaches. Dr. Blum considers herself fortunate to have been able to conduct clinical trials with a number of these agents including brentuximab, lenalidomide, ibrutinib and selected monoclonal antibodies. She also feels lucky that she could "witness directly how these agents are not only improving patient's survival, but also quality of life, since toxicities with these agents are more limited than with conventional chemotherapy."

As one of the newest members of LRF's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), Dr. Blum recognizes that "participation in LRF has fostered interactions and collaborations with some of the premier clinical and translational investigators in the field of lymphoma within the country." She adds that "LRF has provided me with the opportunity to discuss patient care, and to seek out funding for translational investigation associated with those trials. LRF has also assisted with my other passion that is providing education and mentorship to fellows interested in the pursuit of a career in clinical or translational investigation in B-cell malignancies."

It is in this capacity that Dr. Blum has led LRF's current efforts to establish a Clinical Research Mentoring Program, a training program for Hematology/Oncology Fellows and Junior Faculty with a focus on Clinical Research in Lymphoma. The aim of the pilot program is to provide continued training, career development advice and mentorship to fellows and junior faculty who aim to become independent clinical investigators in the field of lymphoma, fostering future participation and collaboration within the LRF community. It will bring together a cadre of experts in lymphoma clinical research who will share their expertise, experience and career advice over the course of the workshop. The "Request for Applications (RFA)" announcement is scheduled for sometime in the early spring 2013. Open to fellows or junior faculty members with a demonstrated commitment to a career in lymphoma clinical research, the program is currently scheduled to accept its first participants in early 2014.

Throughout her career to date, Dr. Blum has been at the forefront of some of the exciting and promising avenues in lymphoma research; "recently at OSU, a number of collaborators including: Drs. Beth Christian, Kami Maddocks, Amy Johnson, John Byrd and I have been examining combination trials with bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor, ibrutinib. In early single agent trials, this oral drug has been very well tolerated with response rates from 40-80% in patients with relapsed DLBCL, MCL and CLL." While our combination studies of ibrutinib, bendamustine, and ibrutinib and ibrutinib and lenalidomide are continuing to accrue patients and therefore the data is still preliminary, responses have been impressive and the hope is that with additional follow-up, we will be able to accurately assess the durability of the responses and the tolerability of prolonged ibrutinib dosing in responding patients utilizing these combinations. With respect to her work in Hodgkin's lymphoma, Dr. Blum notes that "traditionally, patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma who relapse after an autologous stem cell transplant have been treated with single agent or combination chemotherapy regimens. However, a number of new agents including brentuximab, lenalidomide, = PD-1 inhibitors, selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors, everolimus, and panobinostat, offer new therapeutic options for patients who relapse after transplant. Combinations of these agents, including one such combination we are examining at OSU and Washington University of lenalidomide and panobinostat may be found to be effective regimens, where relapsing patients can be maintained on continuous long-term dosing, with prolonged remissions and excellent quality of life," explains Dr. Blum. Furthermore, "the success of the monoclonal antibody-drug conjugate, brentuximab, in this disease, will hopefully serve as a therapeutic model for similar drug conjugates that can be effectively utilized in other B-cell lymphomas."

Dr. Blum says that she was drawn to the field of lymphoma due to the "complexity of the clinical and pathological presentation of lymphomas, the variety of ages of patients affected by their diagnosis, and the wealth of new targeted therapies in development for lymphoid malignancies." What enabled Dr. Blum to successfully pursue a career in the field is a "cadre of wonderful mentors and friends who remain examples to me of superb clinicians and researchers." These wonderful mentors include many of those who also sit on LRF's Scientific Advisory Board.

Specifically Dr. Blum credits her "love for hematology to the patient and ever enthusiastic teaching of Donald Temple, MD, at the University of Miami Medical School, who is not only an excellent teacher but whose bedside manner and patient care truly reflects what it means to be a compassionate physician." Dr. Blum also pays tribute to Dr. Michael Williams for fostering "my interest in B-cell malignancies" and who in the early stages of her career, encouraged her involvement in ASH and clinical research. Dr. Blum also mentions her work with Drs. Nancy Bartlett and Paula Fracasso, "who remain examples to me of how to conduct clinical research in a scientifically rigorous fashion with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes. To this day, I continue to view Dr. Bartlett as a role model and an inspiration with regards to patient care, research conduct and career development." Finally, in her years as a member of the junior faculty of OSU, "I owe much of my success to Dr. John Byrd and Dr. Bruce Cheson, who , respectively, gave me much needed guidance in my early forays into grant writing and who provided me with the opportunity for early involvement in national research through the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB)," a national clinical research group sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Dr. Blum is inspired on a personal level by "my husband, William Blum, and my three boys who always provide support, laughter and love, reminding me that the reason I strive to help all of my patients is so that they can continue to build a lifetime of memories within their own families."

Dr. Blum's advice for researchers starting out in their career:

  • Seek out an institution where collaboration with clinical, translational, and bench research is well established.
  • Become involved in national organizations including LRF, the co-operative groups, ASH, and ASCO as this will lead to future collaborations and friendships that will continually improve and inspire your research.
  • Look for potential pathways of independence, i.e. ways to differentiate yourself from your local mentors, even early within your career in order to foster your development into a mid-career and senior investigator.

To learn more about the LRF research program, or the research and investigators supported by the Foundation please click here.

To read about other Featured LRF Researchers, click here.