by Roya Naqvi
Cancer researchers Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., and Ravi Bhatia, M.D., have been appointed to newly created positions at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Smita Bhatia has been named professor and chair of a new Department of Population Sciences (see lead story) and, as associate director of the cancer center, will lead the Cancer Prevention and Control program. Previously, Bhatia served as director, Epidemiology and Outcomes Research, within the Department of Pediatrics at City of Hope, where she retains an appointment as a staff physician.
The new Department of Population Sciences will bring together City of Hope's cancer prevention and control research with the institution’s outreach activities in a comprehensive program supporting interventions to reduce cancer-related morbidity. Investigators will identify risk factors for cancer and its sequelae, evaluate strategies for early detection, develop approaches for prevention of cancer and its sequelae, and create a Center for Cancer Survivorship. The department includes more than 60 faculty and staff members and has received more than 20 grants.
Bhatia’s research focuses primarily on long-term complications among survivors of adult and pediatric cancer. She is currently conducting a comprehensive, multi-institutional study of survivors of bone marrow transplantation (BMT). As chair of the Children’s Oncology Group Late Effects Committee, Bhatia is responsible for coordinating late-effects research occurring within the national cooperative group. She also is responsible for a national centralized database of key adverse events among children treated with Children’s Oncology Group therapeutic protocols.
"Smita Bhatia’s research has helped inform our understanding of cancer survivors and provided critically important insight for predicting long-term outcomes," said Ted Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president, Medical & Scientific Affairs, City of Hope. "Her appointment sets the stage for the study of interventions that can help enhance therapeutic options, establish guidelines for cancer survivor follow-up and improve patient outcomes."
Ravi Bhatia has been named director of City of Hope’s new Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell & Leukemia Research, as well as co-director of the Hematological Malignancies Program. He continues as professor and staff physician in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT).
Previously director of the Stem Cell Biology Program in the Department of Hematology & HCT, Bhatia established a research program focusing on leukemia and other blood diseases arising from abnormalities in blood-producing ("hematopoietic") stem cells. He believes that understanding how normal and malignant stem cells are regulated at the molecular level can lead to new therapies that will allow selective and effective targeting of cancer stem cells and enhance chances for cure.
In the new ivision, Bhatia and his colleagues are working to build a program in basic and translational hematopoietic stem cell and leukemia biology. Their goal is to develop new therapies as well as support clinical advances in hematological malignancies and transplantation. Investigators will focus on characterizing normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells, identifying molecular events in cancerous transformation and developing new anticancer therapies.
"Ravi Bhatia is a highly accomplished scientist," said Krontiris. "His experience is central to the research endeavors of this new division, which is designed to further City of Hope’s accomplishments in the basic and clinical sciences to uncover cancer’s underlying causes and translate this knowledge into effective interventions."
The Bhatias are married physician-scientists who joined City of Hope in 1996. Both have published extensively, together and separately, in major journals in their respective fields, including The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigations, Blood, Nature Cancer Reviews, Journal of Clinical Oncology and Pediatrics.
Ravi Bhatia holds medical degrees from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and received advanced clinical and research training in hematology-oncology and HCT at the University of Minnesota, Minn.
Smita Bhatia holds undergraduate and medical degrees from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and received advanced clinical and research training in blood banking, epidemiology, pediatric hematology and oncology, and BMT from the University of Minnesota. Both are recipients of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society’s prestigious Scholar in Clinical Research Award.