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John M. Pagel, MD, PhD

Dr. Pagel specializes in treating patients with leukemia and lymphoma.

Patient Care Philosophy:

I strive to establish a foundation of mutual trust and respect with every patient in order to provide the best care possible for each individual patient.

Dr. Pagel's Resume


  • Associate Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Associate Professor, Medical Oncology Division, University of Washington School of Medicine

Clinical Expertise

  • Lymphomas, including Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Acute leukemia
  • Chronic leukemia
  • Transplantation
  • Novel targeted therapies
  • Radiolabeled antibody therapies 

His current research explores innovative approaches to delivering targeted radiation to cancer cells; ways to better treat patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL); and, strategies that use the immune system to boost standard treatment.

Education And Training

  • BS: Cum laude, University of California, Riverside and Los Angeles, 1982-1986
  • PhD: University of California, Irvine, 1987-1991 
  • Medical Degree: Magna cum laude, Boston University School of Medicine, 1992-1996
  • Residency: University of California. San Francisco, Internal Medicine, 1997-1999
  • Fellowship: University of Washington, Division of  Oncology, 1999-2002 

More Information

For more information about Dr. John M. Pagel's clinical and research expertise, click here.

Clinical Trials

Dr. Pagel is the SCCA lead investigator for the following clinical trials:

Dr. Pagel's Story

It was a tie between wanting to be a professional baseball player and being a physician for John Pagel, MD, PhD, growing up. Medicine won. Naturally drawn to science, he first pursued a PhD in molecular genetics. That was not enough, however. “I realized early in my PhD training that, in order to truly make a difference in patients’ lives, I needed to translate lab discoveries to real treatment options for patients and that meant going to medical school, too,” says Dr. Pagel.  

Today, Dr. Pagel divides his time between the lab and caring for patients with leukemia or lymphoma, and those undergoing transplantation. He is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Washington, Division of Oncology and an Associate Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  

“The opportunity to make significant advances toward curing people of their disease is what led me to blood cancers,” Dr. Pagel says.  “There’s no more exciting time than now to be in this field. We are gaining the research and clinical insight needed to more effectively manage leukemia and lymphoma with less toxicity. I try to share the sense of hope with all of my patients.”

In his lab, Dr. Pagel collaborates with researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to develop novel treatment approaches for blood cancers. Building on the work of Drs. Fred Appelbaum, Oliver Press, and others, he is exploring new ways to administer targeted immunotherapies to patients with leukemia and lymphoma. In particular Dr. Pagel has a research interest in radiolabeled antibody therapy, which works by delivering small doses of radiation directly to the cancer cells. 

“One challenge with the current way this therapy is administered is that after it’s injected into a patient, the radioactive antibody circulates in the body before actually binding to the cancer cells, which may expose non-cancerous tissue and organs to unnecessary therapy,” Dr. Pagel says. “If we can identify ways to make the approach more targeted, we have the chance of minimizing toxicity, while decreasing the likelihood of recurrence.”  

That’s just what he and his team are researching now in the lab and in clinical trials with patients. The method, referred to as “pretargeting,” involves first injecting an antibody without the radioactive label which finds its way to the cancer cells. Then, the radioactive molecules are injected and bind specifically to the antibody. “Further research is clearly needed in this area, but early studies suggest this may allow us to give patients higher doses of radiation, which gives us a much better hope to put their disease in remission without increasing side-effects,” says Dr. Pagel.

Dr. Pagel’s commitment to patients extends beyond the Seattle area. He frequently presents to patient audiences internationally and around the country and through teleconferences and webcasts aimed at providing patients with up-to-date disease and treatment information.

When Dr. Pagel is not caring for patients or in the lab, he can be found skiing down double diamonds and unchartered terrain, enjoying sports, or coaching very talented youth baseball teams.