Jacob Appelbaum, MD, PhD

Physician
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Acting Instructor, Division of Hematology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Physican
UW Medicine
Specialty:
Medical Oncology
“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. ”
— Dr. Appelbaum
What motivates you as a physician and a researcher?

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.

Bone marrow The soft, spongy material in the center of your bones that produces all your blood cells, such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
applebaum
What do you specialize in hematology?

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. 

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Hematologic malignancies, non-malignant hematology

Acute myeloid leukemia, other myeloid malignancies

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. 

Antigen A foreign substance, such as bacteria, that causes the body’s immune system to respond by making antibodies. Antibodies defend the body against antigens. Benign Not cancer. Benign tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body. Bone marrow The soft, spongy material in the center of your bones that produces all your blood cells, such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Hematologist A physician who specializes in diseases of the blood and blood-forming tissues. Immunotherapy A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. A therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases. Some immunotherapies only target certain cells of the immune system. Others affect the immune system in a general way. Types of immunotherapy include cytokines, vaccines, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) and some monoclonal antibodies. T cell A type of white blood cell. T cells are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer. A type of white blood cell. T cells are part of the immune system and develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. They help protect the body from infection and may help fight cancer. Also called T lymphocyte and thymocyte.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Amherst College
Medical Degree
Yale School of Medicine
Residency
University of California, San Francisco, Internal Medicine
Fellowship
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Hematology-Oncology
Board Certification
Internal Medicine, 2017; Hematology, 2019, American Board of Internal Medicine
Languages
English

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Your care team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your doctor and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your doctor and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.