Stephanie A. Gregory, MD, FACP
Stephanie A. Gregory is the Elodia Kehm Chair of Hematology and Professor of Medicine and Director of the Lymphoma Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Dr. Gregory's academic career has been devoted to patient care, clinical research, and administration. She is a graduate of the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania with honors and received all of her post-medical school training in Chicago at what is now known as Rush University Medical Center.
Dr. Gregory's interest in hematology, and lymphoma in particular, came during her chief residency when she devoted six months to lymphoma patient care and research. She was drawn into lymphoma research because of the complexity of the lymphomas and the early work done in the molecular and cytogenetic basis of the disease. She entered a hematology fellowship for three years, during which time she was funded by the Schweppe Research Foundation, and some of her early research interests were in hematopoietic stem cell kinetics, on which she worked with the then-Chair of Hematology, Dr. Frank Trobaugh, Jr. Another early mentor, Dr. Walter Fried, did some of the seminal work in erythropoietin demonstrating the extra-renal source of erythropoietin in the liver. Dr. Gregory says, "It has been astonishing to see the major advances in the field of malignant hematology," since she started out as a hematology fellow 30-plus years ago. At the time of her fellowship, all chronic myelogenous leukemia patients died in a "blast crisis" within three years of diagnosis; today the novel oral targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors are a potential cure for this otherwise fatal disease.
Dr. Gregory eventually became the program director for the hematology fellowship and remained so until the section became part of the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Therapy. She then assumed the directorship of the Section of Hematology and has directed the Lymphoma Program since 1994. During her time at Rush, Dr. Gregory has participated in the early clinical trials in the monoclonal antibody, rituximab, and in the two previously approved radioimmunotherapy agents. She has been fortunate to have been at the same institution for her entire academic life, and has seen the commitment to patient care at her institution and the strength of taking care of that patient from diagnosis to cure, or occasionally, to death. "The patient must always come first," Dr. Gregory says.
Dr. Gregory's current clinical research interests include clinical trials with novel agents such as immunoconjugates, pathway inhibitors including the BTK inhibitor, ibrutinib, mTOR inhibitors, and proteosome inhibitors. She notes that these trials demonstrate that individualized therapy for patients with a variety of lymphomas is not far away. Further, the advent of genomic analysis and specific mutations in lymphomas will initiate genetic therapy for these diseases. "Hopefully, patients can avoid the toxic effects of chemotherapy in the future and "cocktails" of novel agents will be the treatment of the future," she says.
Dr. Gregory has been involved with the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) for many years, starting out as a lecturer for the Ask the Doctor series. For the past several years she has chaired LRF's annual Chicago Lymphoma Workshop with colleagues from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Six years ago she was asked to become the vice-chair of the LRF Medical Affairs Board and help develop a forum to bring academic and community hematologist-oncologists and hematopathologists in the Chicago area together to discuss interesting lymphoma patients -- this program became the Chicago Lymphoma Rounds. The Lymphoma Rounds have not only been a great success in Chicago for the last five years, but sister programs have now been developed in New England, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles with the same type of success. Dr. Gregory also spearheaded the development of the Care of the Lymphoma Patient program three years ago for oncology nurse specialists, to provide an overview of the pathogenesis of lymphomas, diagnosis, staging and treatment for nurses, as well as addressing the role of the nurse in caring for these very complicated patients. More recently, Dr. Gregory has become a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the LRF.
In turn, Dr. Gregory notes that the LRF has contributed dramatically to her career due to the exposure nationwide to major lymphoma researchers and clinicians and enabling up-to-the-minute, basic knowledge of research in the lymphomas. It has also given her exposure to lymphoma patients regionally and nationally.
"All lymphoma patients today have so much available to them," Dr. Gregory says. She advises patients to get a second opinion at an academic center, to make sure their pathology is reviewed by an excellent hematopathologist, and, if they have a non-curable lymphoma, not to be over treated because "it is becoming a chronic disease and many patients can live a normal life." Lymphoma patients also need to be aware of the importance of participating in clinical trials.
Dr. Gregory is proud of her achievements as an academic and clinician, but she remains most proud of her wonderful husband of 43 years, her four beautiful and accomplished children -- who have all gone into the medical field --, the medical volunteer work that she has done in Haiti, and the work she did as being part of the United Nations team commissioned to investigate sexual war crimes committed against women in the former Yugoslavia.
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