Jacob Appelbaum, MD, PhD
I grew up around people whose shared life passion was to cure cancer, and they were pursuing this goal during the 1960s and ‘70s, when the technology was rather crude. They were very careful scientists, and they felt that the only way to help some of their patients avoid certain death was to be bold and try something radical — in a very measured and methodical way. Those scientists went on to develop bone marrow transplantation. By the time I was born, there had been three or four transplants. Now there have been one million worldwide. The idea that my predecessors were not content with “good enough,” that they felt driven to use the principles of science to improve care for their patients, is what inspires me today. I try to bridge the gap between the lab and the clinic so that we can keep advancing the care of leukemia and other blood-related cancers.
I’ve always been fascinated by the biology of blood. It consists of so many different cell types interacting in interesting ways, and such a high level of complexity means there’s a lot that can go wrong. During medical training, I explored other specialties; however, I kept coming back to hematology — the science of blood-related diseases — and specifically acute myeloid leukemia (AML). I really enjoy working with patients who have AML and similar diseases because of the partnerships we develop. When I first meet patients, it’s often in the midst of the most serious medical problem they have had or will have in their lifetime. It’s profoundly meaningful to be a part of that experience, to support patients and their families and do whatever I can to help them reach their goals.
Specialty: Medical Oncology
Hematologic malignancies, non-malignant hematology
I am a board-certified hematologist who specializes in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and other myeloid malignancies. These cancers result in the abnormal production of cells in the bone marrow and blood. My practice includes providing care at SCCA and UW Medicine.
Our knowledge of AML in recent years has skyrocketed; treatments are now targeted and driven by a molecular understanding of the disease. To continue this momentum, I am studying how to bring cellular immunotherapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, to patients with AML. This method of treatment directs a person’s T cells, a type of immune system cell, to target and eliminate cancer.
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