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Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE

Attending physician

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

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.


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