Dr. Deeg treats bone marrow failure such as aplastic anemia and blood cancers, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, leukemia, and myelofibrosis. He believes that a central part of good patient care is close collaboration between members of a multidisciplinary team.
Teamwork. Treatment of cancer and bone marrow diseases is complicated and requires long-term commitment by the patient and physician. While the physician provides up-to-date information and clinical expertise, the ultimate decisions for care and treatment are the patient's to make.
Myelodysplastic syndrome, aplastic anemia, myelofibrosis; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, graft-versus-host disease; iron overload; secondary malignancies
- Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Professor, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Friedrich Wilhelms Universitaet, Bonn, Germany, 1972
- University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 1976
- University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
Gratified when clinical observations and laboratory work result in improved therapy
After completing medical school in his home country, Germany, with the encouragement of a professor whom he admired, Deeg traveled to the United States where he completed internship and residency training at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Looking to the future, Deeg then applied to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which had just opened. He arrived in June 1976.
“When I came to the United States," Deeg says, "I thought I’d stay a year or two. However, quoting a favored poet, David Whyte: '10 years ago I turned my face for a moment, and it became my life.' This has been a great place to work.”
Deeg enjoys writing and communicating about his research, which centers on understanding how leukemia develops, and mentoring young people who come through the fellowship program. He finds both aspects of his career rewarding and productive.
“It’s gratifying to work on the transplant ward two months of the year,” he says. “But it is also exciting to then go back and do preclinical research. One of the great assets to working here is the effort made by the Hutchinson Center to protect investigators’ time so they can concentrate on research and allow their minds to create new approaches to treating disease. It’s a privilege to be here, but with that comes also an obligation to strive for the best and speak up when things are not right.”
Working for the good of his patients, Deeg believes that people appreciate openness, “while being gentle and polite, of course,” he says. “But patients do not want sugar-coating; they want honesty and partners in their care.”
When he is able to, he travels professionally, at times adding a personal day or two to a trip to replenish his soul. He and his wife, who is French, share three children, all of whom are out of the house now. One lives abroad, close to the roots of both his parents. They maintain close ties with their extended families in Europe. He and his wife have an apartment in France, but, he says “there are quite a few Seattleites by now who have spent much more time there than I have.” He enjoys connecting with friends the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, and a few years ago he celebrated his 40th reunion with school chums he graduated with from secondary school in Germany. In his spare time, Deeg will write poetry and reads non-medicine-related books. Most recently he decided to learn how to play classic guitar.