Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE

Dr. Aplenc's primary focus is on the treatment of pediatric acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). One of Dr. Aplenc's first patients had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). His experience caring for her changed the path of his career.

Areas of Expertise: and bone marrow transplantation, Pediatric oncology, The role of genetic polymorphisms in drug metabolizing enzymes in treatment outcome and toxicity in childhood cancer
Locations: Main Campus
Appointments and Referrals: 1-800-TRY-CHOP (1-800-879-2467)

  • Background

    I have several areas of clinical and research focus. Currently, my primary focus is on the treatment of pediatric myeloid leukemia (AML). As a young physician, one of my first patients had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Her diagnosis, treatment, subsequent relapse and untimely death made such an impression on me that I decided to focus on the disease.

    My research involves the treatment of AML in children and the use of genetic data to predict treatment response to therapeutic interventions. I am the Vice-Chair of AAML0531 and the Study Chair for AAML1031. These are large, Phase III trials for patients with newly diagnosed AML in the Children’s Oncology Group. Together, these trials will treat more than 2,000 children with AML with the newest available therapies.

    My research focuses on improving the outcomes of children with cancer, particularly AML. I am currently leading a genome-wide genotyping effort to discover genetic variations that change the risks of relapse, life-threatening infections, and heart complications in children treated for AML. I am also leading several efforts to use administrative data sets to improve the care of children with AML, particularly focusing on antibiotic and intensive care use.

    In addition to this work, I also lead Phase I trials I for children whose cancers have not responded to standard therapy. These trials include gemtuzumab, dasatinib and obatoclax. I am also the Primary Investigator at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for multiple Phase I trials that are offered through the Children’s Oncology Group. I also help lead the Hematologic Malignancies Program and Experimental Therapeutics Program here at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    Children's Hospital has a long tradition that embraces the total care of patients and their families. Every child receiving complex cancer therapy needs the expertise of more than one provider. That's why I work with our other Children's Hospital physicians, nurses and social workers to provide a team approach to total care. This kind of collaboration with the family and patient helps our team provide the best, most modern and sophisticated care -- not only nationally, but in the world.

    Personally, I believe that families need their physicians to be clear, straight forward and honest -- from the time of initial diagnosis to daily interactions in clinic or hospital. My goal is to communicate clearly and precisely to provide a good understanding of the medical condition, the best treatment choices for each child, and the potential and risks of treatment options. In short, I try to provide the care I would want my family to receive.


  • Education and Training

    Medical School

    University of Virginia School of Medicine (MD)

    Additional Training

    The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.

    Board Certification

    American Board of Pediatrics/Hematology-Oncology

    Undergraduate Degree

    University of California, San Diego. Calif.

    Graduate Degree

    Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania (MS)

  • Titles and Academic Titles

    Attending physician

    Associate professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

  • Departments and Services
  • Research Interests
  • Publications



    Sutton RM, Niles D, Meaney PA, Aplenc R, French B, Abella BS, et al. Low-dose, high-frequency CPT training improves skill retention of in-hospital pediatric providers. Pediatrics. 2011 Jul;128(1):e145-51. Epub 2011 Jun 6. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21646262. Read the abstract

    Rushefski M, Aplenc R, Meyer N, Li M, Feng R, Lanken PN, et al. Novel variants in the PRDX6 gene and the risk of acute lung injury following major trauma. BMC Med Genet. 2011 May 31;12:77. Cited in PubMed; PMID 2167785. Read the article

    Sepe DM, McWilliams T, Chen J, Kershenbaum A, Zhao H, La M, et al. Germline genetic variation and treatment response on CCG-1891. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2011 May 25. DOI: 10.1002/pbc.23192. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21618417. Read the abstract

    Aplenc R, Blaney SM, Strauss LC, Balis FM, Shusterman S, Ingle AM, et al. Pediatric phase I trial and pharmacokinetic study of dasantinib: a report from the Children's Oncology Group phase I consortium. J Clin Oncol. 2011 mar 1; 29(7):839-44. Epub 2011 Jan 24. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21263099. Read the abstract 

    Meyer NJ, Li M, Feng R, Bradfield J, Gallop R, Bellamy S, et al. ANGPT2 genetic variant is associated with trauma-associated acute lung injury and altered plasma angiopoietin-2 isoform ratio. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 May 15;183(10):1344-53. Epub 2011 Jan 21. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21257790. Read the abstract

    Mao JJ, Su HI, Feng R, Donelson ML, Aplenc R, Rebbeck TR, et al. Association of functional polymorphisms in CYP19A1 with aromatase inhibitor associated arthralgia in breast cancer survivors. Breast Cancer Res. 2011 Jan 20;13(1):R8. Epub ahead of print. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21251330. Read the article

    Johnson KA, Aplenc R, Bagatell R. Survival by race among children with extracranial solid tumors in the United States between 1985 and 2005. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2011 mar;56(3):425-31. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21072824. Read the abstract


    Fox E, Aplenc R, Bagatell R, Chuk MK, Dombi E, Goodspeed W, et al.  A phase 1 trial and pharmacokinetic study of cediranib, an oral bioavailable pan-vascular endothelial growth factor receptor inhibitor, in children and adolescents with refractory solid tumors. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Dec 10;28(35):5174-81. Epub 2010 Nov 8. Cited in PubMed; PMID 21060028. Read the abstract 

    Fisher BT, Zaoutis TE, Leckerman KH, Localio R, Aplenc R. Risk factors for renal failure in pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia: a retrospective cohort study. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2010 Oct;55(4):655-61. Cited in PubMed; PMID 20533519. Read the abstract

    Aplenc R. Steps forward in neuroblastoma genetic epidemiology. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2010 Aug;55(2):222-3. No abstract available.

    Fisher BT, Zaoutis TE, Leckerman KH, Localio R, Aplenc R. Risk factors for renal failure in pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia: a retrospective cohort study. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2010 Jun 8. Read abstract

    Sutton RM, Niles D, Meaney PA, Aplenc R, French B, Abella BS, et al. Booster training: evaluation of instructor-led bedside cardiopulmonary resuscitation skill training and automated corrective feedback to improve cardiopulmonary resuscitation compliance of pediatric basic life support providers during simulated cardiac arrest. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2011 May;12(3):e116-21. Read abstract

    Gor PP, Su HI, Gray RJ, Gimotty PA, Horn M, Aplenc R, et al. Cyclophosphamide-metabolizing enzyme polymorphisms and survival outcomes after adjuvant chemotherapy for node-positive breast cancer: a retrospective cohort study. Breast Cancer Res. 2010;12(3):R26. Epub 2010 May 10. Read abstract.

    Ginsberg JP, Aplenc R, McDonough J, Bethel J, Doyle J, Weiner DJ. Pre-transplant lung function is predictive of survival following pediatric bone marrow transplantation. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2010 Mar;54(3):454-60. Read abstract.


    Guerrouahen BS, Wieder E, Blanchard EG, Lee FY, Aplenc R, Corey SJ. Flow cytometric determination of Src phosphorylation in pediatric patients treated with dasantinib. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2009 Dec;53(6):1132-5. Cited in PubMed; PMID 19484755. Read the article

    Fisher BT, Aplenc R, Localio R, Leckerman KH, Zaoutis TE. Cefepime and mortality in pediatric acute myelogenous leukemia: a retrospective cohort study. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2009 Nov;28(11):971-5. Cited in PubMed; PMID 19859014. Read the abstract

    Rajić V, Aplenc R, Debeljak M, Prestor VV, Karas-Kuzelicki N, Mlinaric-Rascan I, et al. Influence of the polymorphism in candidate genes on late cardiac damage in patients treated due to acute leukemia in childhood. Leuk Lymphoma. 2009 Oct;50(10):1693-8. Read abstract.

    Lehrnbecher T, Ethier MC, Zaoutis T, Creutzig U, Gamis A, Reinhardt D, et al. International variations in infection supportive care practices for paediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Br J Haematol. 2009 Oct;147(1):125-8. Epub 2009 Aug. Cited in PubMed; PMID 19663826. Read the abstract

     Reddy AJ, Christie JD, Aplenc R, Fuchs B, Lanken PN, Kleeberger SR. Association of human NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) polymorphism with development of acute lung injury. J Cell Mol Med. 2009 Aug;13(8B):1784-91. Cited in PubMed; PMID 19017358. Read the article

    DeMichele A, Gray R, Horn M, Chen J, Aplenc R, Vaughan WP, Tallman MS. Host genetic variants in the interleukin-6 promoter predict poor outcome in patients with estrogen receptor-positive, node-positive breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2009 May 15;69(10):4184-91. Epub 2009 May 12. Cited in PubMed; PMID 1943522. Read the article

    Sung L, Alibhai SM, Beyene J, Gamis A, Almeida R, Smith S, et al. Hematopoietic colony-stimulating factor priming does not influence survival in acute myeloid leukemia: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. Leukemia. 2009 Apr;23(4):811-3. Epub 2008 Nov 6. Cited in PubMed; PMID 18987652. No abstract available.

    Posters and Presentations

    Aplenc R. Stem cell transplantation in pediatric AML: the American perspective [presentation]. 2009 Mar.

    Aplenc R. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia [presentation]. American Austrian Foundation; 2009 Mar; Salzburg, Austria.

    Aplenc R. Acute myeloid leukemia [presentation]. American Austrian Foundation; 2008 Oct; Salzburg, Austria.

    Aplenc R. Clinical trials [presentation]. American Austrian Foundation; 2008 Oct; Salzburg, Austria.

    Aplenc R. Pediatric lymphoma [presentation]. American Austrian Foundation; 2008 Oct; Salzburg, Austria.

  • Editorial and Academic Positions

    Editorial positions

    2009-present, Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
    2009-present, Journal of the American Medical Association
    2009-present, Blood
    2007-present, People Living With Cancer (, Editorial Board Member
    2007-present, Cancer Research
    2007-present, Pediatrics
    2006-present, Leukemia
    2005-present, Bone Marrow Transplant
    2005-present, Annals of Hematology
    2005-present, American Journal of Epidemiology
    2005-present, Pharmacogenomics
    2004-present, Journal of Clinical Oncology
    2004-present, Journal of the National Cancer Institute
    2003-present, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention
    2003-present, International Journal of Cancer
    2003-present, Pediatric Blood and Cancer
    2003-present, Cancer
    2002-present, Clinical Cancer Research
    2001-present, Medical and Pediatric Oncology
    2001-present, Journal of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology

    Academic committees

    2009-present, Clinical Research Quality Assurance Committee
    2007-present, Hematopoietic Malignancies Clinical Steering Committee
    2003-present, Certificate Program Working Group, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
    1999-present, Institutional Review Board, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia