Researcher Spotlight: Manali Kamdar, MBBS

University of Colorado

Patients with indolent (slow-growing) lymphomas such as follicular (FL) or marginal zone (MZL) are chronic, frequently relapsing diseases which can vary widely in clinical presentation. Therapies are varied and can often include a “watch and wait” plan (where the patient receives regular monitoring and only receives treatment if their disease begins to spread) to antibody and/or chemotherapy treatments. Clinical trials have shown no difference between patients who go on watch and wait and those who receive early treatment. However, Dr. Kamdar notes, “Very few clinical trials have been conducted in the era of novel therapies, and thus one can hypothesize that offering treatment earlier…might improve outcomes in these lymphoma subtypes.”

Her LCRMP project was inspired by her indolent lymphoma patients who found “watch and wait” more akin to “watch and worry.” It proposes testing a new monoclonal antibody, ublituximab, in advanced stage indolent lymphoma patients. If patients enter complete response (no detectable disease) following ublituximab therapy, they will end treatment; patients without a complete response will receive a combination of ublituximab and a new non-chemotherapy pill called umbralisib. “If this novel treatment strategy shows excellent durable responses, I believe it will allow patients to have longer remissions, thus translating into fewer relapses and decreased need for future treatments,” Dr. Kamdar notes.

Dr. Kamdar is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Hospital, where she is also Clinical Director of Lymphoma Services. She began her training with an MBBS (MD equivalent) from K.J. Somaiya Medical College in Mumbai, India, before completing a residency and hematology/oncology fellowship at East Carolina University and a blood and marrow transplantation fellowship at Stanford. During her fellowship at ECU she was able to pursue electives in lymphoma clinics at Weill Cornell Medicine and Tata Medical Center in Mumbai. She credits all her mentors at those institutions as well as current advisor Sonali Smith, MD (an LRF SAB member) in supporting her early lymphoma career, and hopes her participation in the LCRMP will expand that support.

Dr. Kamdar hopes to advance towards a career as a senior lymphoma clinical researcher committed to developing targeted drugs that are less toxic, more efficacious, and affordable. “I see myself collaborating with lymphoma colleagues not just in the U.S. but worldwide, so that lymphoma care is standardized across the globe, giving every patient an equal opportunity to be cured.”