We recently met the family of a newly diagnosed Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient. They told us that when researching where to go for treatment, “all roads” led to Dr. Kara Kelly, the Associate Director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology & Stem Cell Transplantation. This didn’t surprise us as we have heard from many patient families treated at Columbia University Medical Center about Dr. Kelly’s compassionate, innovative care and how much they love working with her.
We recently heard some news about another way that Dr. Kelly is distinguishing herself – but first a little background information.
The name of Dr. Sidney Farber crops up repeatedly in the first episode of Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, the six-part PBS series that premiered this week. In the late 1940’s, Dr. Farber revolutionized the treatment of childhood leukemia with the use of chemotherapy. He also transformed the experience of care at what became the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and almost single-handedly created modern fundraising for childhood cancer by founding The Jimmy Fund.
Dr. Farber had three Fellows working with him in those early days, including Dr. James A. Wolff who in 1959 started the Pediatric Hematology Division in at what was then Babies Hospital – the forerunner of our Division. Dr. Wolff pioneered a multidisciplinary approach to treating childhood cancers, which is a tradition carried on by our faculty and staff today, and was an early member of what became the Children’s Oncology Group (COG).
After his retirement, the James A. Wolff Professorship in Pediatrics was established. Dr. Gary Brittenham, who leads our hematology laboratory, has held the title for the last several years. Here’s where Dr. Kelly comes in: It has just been announced that there will now be a second James Wolff Professorship and she will be the first doctor to be so honored.
Dr. Kelly is a pioneer herself in the use of integrative and complementary medicine in the treatment of childhood cancer and blood disorders. In addition to her clinical work in leukemia and lymphoma, she is the author of many studies and the co-author of Integrative Strategies for Cancer Patients. She is a member of the COG Cancer Control steering committee and serves as chair of the Integrative Therapies Committee there.
Dr. Kelly is also the first woman to hold the James A. Wolff Professorship, which is another kind of history we’re proud to see in the making!