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2016 LRF Scholar: Connie Batlevi, MD, PhD (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)

Connie Batlevi, MD, PhD

Dr. Batlevi's Lymphoma Clinical Research Mentoring Program (LCRMP) project seeks to capitalize on the success of two classes of novel targeted therapies that have shown effectiveness in lymphoma - Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) and phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitors. Her trial will specifically test the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib (Imbruvica) and the PI3K inhibitor buparlisib in relapsed refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), follicular lymphoma (FL), and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). "BTK and PI3K inhibitors have demonstrated synergy in killing lymphoma cells in the laboratory," Dr. Batlevi notes. "We hope to improve the depth and duration of response using these two therapies attacking separate pathways."

Dr. Batlevi is a Medical Oncology Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She completed her MD, along with a PhD in Cancer Biology, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center before beginning her fellowship. She became interested in oncology at an early age, noting that, at age twelve, she answered a class essay on "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with "A cancer doctor." She notes that her patients inspire her continued pursuit of lymphoma research. "Our task as clinical researchers is to understand the journey each patient experiences and work to develop drugs and therapies that minimize the footprint lymphoma leaves on their lives," she says. Dr. Batlevi adds that she hopes to keep her future career goals focused on patient care. "Foremost, I hope to be a doctor providing sound guidance for my patients. Through a patient centered lens, I hope to focus my research on concepts which have the highest yield for managing or curing lymphoma."

Dr. Batlevi notes that this is an exciting time to be a lymphoma researcher. "The next 20 years will undoubtedly bring the excitement of applying the knowledge gained from understanding cancer genomics, biologic synergism, and immune therapy to lymphoma management. This dynamic environment is ideal for young investigators like myself to grow and learn about rationally-designed, patient-oriented clinical research." She sees her participation in the LCRMP as an opportunity to achieve her goals, both for her research and her career development. "As I complete my fellowship and transition to a junior faculty position in July 2016, I hope to improve my grant writing skills and scientific acumen so that I may secure independent funding for my research. The LCRMP provides a structure for scientific discussion and a mechanism to learn from the experience of leaders in this field."