Paul V. O'Donnell, MD, PhD
Dr. Paul O'Donnell: Providing evidence-based care to cancer patients
Dr. O’Donnell began his career studying chemistry and later earned graduate degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology. That led to a 20-year research scientist position at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he studied retroviruses that cause leukemia in mice.
At the age of 42, Dr. O’Donnell felt the need to become more involved in the study of human diseases. He enrolled in Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he later pursued an oncology fellowship and then joined the faculty.
For many, beginning medical school in the midst of one’s career is more than a daunting task. To Dr. O’Donnell, it’s what had to be done: "You just have to decide what you're going to do and do it," he said. "When you can make decisions like that, it frees up enormous amounts of internal energy to accomplish what you want to do."
After 13 years at Johns Hopkins as a medical student, medical resident, oncology fellow, and a faculty member, he moved to Seattle to join the faculty of the bone marrow transplantation program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/ SCCA in 2001. Subsequently, he became the medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Service, overseeing about 45 medical staff members, attending physicians, mid-level providers, and oncology fellows. He is also a researcher in the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, working on leading-edge research using alternative donors for bone marrow transplantation.
Traveling to south Lake Union from Bainbridge Island, Dr. O’Donnell says he can’t wait to get to work each day. “I feel fortunate to have a rewarding job that is so engaging and intellectually stimulating,” he says. “I want to provide the best evidence-based clinical care to my oncology patients. I want them to be as well-informed as possible about their disease so that treatment decisions can be shared and realistic.”
When he isn’t busy at work, Dr. O’Donnell can be found in his shop, making furniture, or enjoying time at home with his wife. “The purpose of the SCCA is to improve how things are done and to really expand the option of treatment for the widest possible audience. The patients who are willing to be participants in clinical research are really very special. They're unique in being willing to take risks. They want to be helped, of course, but they're also helping advance knowledge,” he says.
Read about patient Susan Ault’s treatment experience at SCCA for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Paul V. O'Donnell, MD, PhDDr. O'Donnell is the medical director of the Adult Transplant Service and is also a researcher in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, working on leading-edge research using alternative donors for bone-marrow transplantation.
Patient Care Philosophy:
I want to provide the best clinical care to my oncology patients that is evidence-based. I want the patient to be as well-informed as possible about their disease so that treatment decisions can be shared and realistic.
- Medical Director, Adult Stem Cell Transplant Service, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Professor, Medical Oncology Division, University of Washington School of Medicine
Clinical expertise and interests include: 1. Hematologic malignancies 2. Allogeneic HSCT from mismatched, related (haploidentical) donors 3. Immunotherapy 4. Acute GVHD 5. Chronic GVHD 6. Palliative Care 7. Stem cell processing
Education And Training
- Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences
- Johns Hopkins University