Ranjana H. Advani, MD
Dr. Advani is a Professor of Oncology at Stanford University Medical Center. In 2012, she became the first recipient of the Saul Rosenberg MD Professorship in Lymphoma, an endowed chair awarded to Stanford faculty with the goal of fostering excellence in lymphoma clinical research and patient care. Patient care is particularly important to Dr. Advani because she has been a lymphoma patient herself – as a medical student, she was treated for Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). "I have experienced the journey as a patient, a survivor, and now as a lymphoma specialist," she says, "As a result, I developed a deep interest and commitment to improving the lives of patients with lymphoma."
Dr. Advani's primary research interests include developing novel targeted therapies for patients with HL and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL); she has been involved in early phase trials of both brentuximab vedotin for HL and the NHL drug ibrutinib, which has since been named a Breakthrough Therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Advani has also worked with fellow Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) member Julie Vose, MD of the University of Nebraska Medical Center to establish the T-Cell Lymphoma Consortium, bringing together researchers from different institutions to work together on peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL), a rare lymphoma that does not respond well to current therapies. She also started a Stanford Biomarkers Consortium, partnering with dozens of community oncologists to collect tissue biopsies and clinical information from hundreds of patients that researchers can access for their own projects. "More and more of our research is studying disease at the molecular level and access to lymphoma tissue is important to carry out these studies," Dr. Advani says.
Another aspect of Dr. Advani's work is an HL long term follow up clinic, in which patients who have completed therapy receive annual checkups and follow up care, both for their own health and to allow researchers to record their progress in a data base. "As the cure rate of lymphomas improves we have an additional onus to take care of our survivors and follow them for possible late effects related to therapy," she says. The information in the data base allows researchers to track patient outcomes over decades aiding in the development of less toxic therapies while maintaining high cure rates. As a member of the SAB, she has furthered her efforts to improve patient care by chairing LRF's San Francisco Lymphoma Workshop, which provides area patients with the latest information about lymphoma, current treatment options and patient support issues. She advises current lymphoma patients to use resources such as these workshops to educate themselves about their disease and to support and participate in clinical studies. She adds, "it is incredibly rewarding for both the patient and physician to witness a patient participating in a clinical trial as a last resort respond to a new drug and see their quality of life improve dramatically." Not surprisingly for one so busy, Dr. Advani says the biggest challenge in her career has been juggling the demands of work and family life; she gives credit to her husband and children for helping her maintain that balance.
Dr. Advani is also committed to the development of the next generation of lymphoma researchers. She will be a faculty member in LRF's inaugural Lymphoma Clinical Research Mentoring Program, and enjoys participating in programs such as the annual Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) Workshop in part because of the opportunity to exchange ideas with young investigators in an impartial forum. She advises young researchers to seek mentorship from senior leaders, and to seek out institutions where translational research (collaborations that bridge lab-based bench work with research in a clinical setting) is highly valued and supported. "For clinical translational science your patients are your lab, learn from them!" Dr. Advani advises. "Provide excellent clinical care and keep yourself well informed on the latest research."
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