Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship
MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital and Division of Pediatrics offers an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved program providing comprehensive research and clinical training that leads to eligibility for board certification in pediatric hematology/ oncology. Applications are invited from second-year pediatric or third-year medicine-pediatric residents.
Meet the Children's Cancer Hospital Fellows
Fellowship in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was established in 1941 and is one of the nation's original three comprehensive cancer centers. Patients from all over the world come to MD Anderson Cancer Center for its expertise. More than 900,000 patients have been treated at MD Anderson since 1944, with an annual average now of close to 115,000 patients cared for at the hospital.
International Center of Care in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
More than 450 new pediatric patients per year are seen in the pediatric clinic. Of these are 250 new patients with cancer, approximately 40 patients with hematological diseases, 60 children with neurofibromatosis and 100 benign conditions simulating cancer. Over 800 patients who are long-term survivors of childhood cancer up to 35 years are followed. An active pediatric transplant program performs 35 hematopoietic stem cell transplants annually. The Hematology Program has a regional hemophilia center and an active sickle cell clinic, and also provides general pediatric hematology services for Hermann Children's Hospital located in the Texas Medical Center.
Located in a Rich Educational and Research Environment
Pediatric hematology/ oncology fellows at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital have access to superb educational and research opportunities at our nationally recognized comprehensive cancer center. During their research time, fellows are encouraged to work in the best and most appropriate environment in any department at MD Anderson. Over 900 full-time faculty engaged in cancer-related research are on staff. During 2001 more than 400 peer-reviewed extramural grants were active. NIH research grant funding exceeded $100 million in 2001. Over 800 residents and fellows are in training each year at MD Anderson. In addition there are over 500 postdoctoral fellows and more than 300 graduate students performing research in labs and clinics at MD Anderson. A comprehensive multidisciplinary oncology core curriculum is offered to all fellows and provides formal teaching in all aspects of modern oncology from molecular biology to clinical trial design. In addition, MD Anderson participates and provides half the faculty for the Graduate School of Biomedical Science. Fellows can attend courses offered at the graduate school.
Excellent Performance of Trainees for More Than 15 Years
Trainees have completed training in pediatric hematology/oncology at MD Anderson since 1995.
Our graduates are on the faculty of the following institutions:
- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Baylor College of Medicine
- The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas
- University of South Dakota Medical School
- Tulane Medical Center
- Children's Hospital of Austin, Texas
- Miami Children's Hospital
- Texas Transplant Institute in San Antonio, Texas
- MD Anderson Cancer Center - Orlando
The overall goal of the fellowship program at MD Anderson Cancer Center is to train pediatricians for an academic career in pediatric hematology-oncology. The training program provides an outstanding opportunity to combine intensive clinical and laboratory experience, allowing the fellow to develop skills necessary to be leaders in the pediatric hematology-oncology community.
The fellowship program at MD Anderson consists of both research and clinical training. The educational goal of the program is to prepare the fellow for a productive career in academic pediatric hematology-oncology.
The fellowship is a three-year program with an optional additional two-year component for fellows interested in advanced training. The first year is dedicated to an in-depth clinical training experience. Working closely with attending physicians, fellows gain inpatient and outpatient experiences on hematological, leukemia/ lymphoma, neuro-oncology, solid tumor and bone marrow transplant and long term follow services. Other clinical experiences allow the fellow to gain additional knowledge in radiation oncology, hematopathology, blood banking and palliative care. Fellows are involved in the supervision and training of residents both through scheduled talks and direct patient care. Fellows also participate in the presentation of weekly Leukemia/ Lymphoma Conference and multidisciplinary tumor board conferences. An oncology core curriculum conference for first year fellows of all disciplines is an institutional requirement. In addition lectures/ journal club/ board reviews further the fellow’s education. Forty weeks of the first year is spent at MD Anderson, where the emphasis is on oncology, and 12 weeks are spent at The University of Texas Health Science Center - Memorial Hermann Hospital, with the emphasis on nonmalignant hematology. Memorial Hermann Hospital is on the campus of the Texas Medical Center and is a 10-minute walk from MD Anderson.
In keeping with our recognition of the shifting emphasis toward greater research skills among pediatric hematologist-oncologists, the second and third years of the fellowship is oriented to gaining basic research skills through either clinical or laboratory based research. Fellows with little or no research experience are encouraged to complete a two- to three-month research "crash course" offered by one of the basic science faculty members in pediatrics. Basic research techniques from tissue culture, DNA, RNA and protein isolation, immunohistochemical techniques and animal care are taught in a hands-on course. Each fellow selects a research sponsor. With the approval of the program director, division head and research sponsor, the sponsor agrees to serve as the fellow’s mentor and to provide sufficient resources, space and guidance to provide a challenging, rigorous and demanding research experience. The Department of Pediatrics is active in translational research, where laboratory-based investigations are brought to clinical trial. In addition, the department has developed an active Adolescent and Young Adult Program (AYA), which addresses not only the medical but psychosocial needs of teenagers and young adults. The New Agents Program in the Department of Pediatrics is dedicated to identifying making available to our patients new and investigational agents that might not be available to them otherwise. Research opportunities exist not only in the Department of Pediatrics and throughout MD Anderson but also throughout the Texas Medical Center. Fellows are required to present their findings in a seminar and to be eligible to sit for the American Board of Pediatrics’ Hematology/ Oncology sub-specialty board must first author a manuscript of their research findings.
To increase expertise and help develop decision-making opportunities, the fellow will have his/her own continuity clinic that is held one half day each week in the second and third years of the fellowship. This experience allows the fellow to participate in the long term care of a selected group of patients throughout their fellowship.
Advanced Training in Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology: Zemel Scholar
The fellowship includes an optional component for additional advanced training in pediatric hematology/ oncology specifically designed for outstanding fellows who are pursuing a career in academic medicine. This program will provide advanced clinical and research training for pediatric hematology-oncology fellows and prepare them to be highly competitive for faculty positions throughout the nation and world. Extant pediatric hematology-oncology training programs provide adequate training to achieve clinical competence and eligibility for board certification in the subspecialty of pediatric hematology-oncology. However, such programs do not provide adequate training and experience to prepare fellows to development independent research programs. The advanced training component of the program will fill this need by:
- Providing extended protected research time under the mentorship of a senior, independent investigator at MD Anderson. The goal is to allow the fellow to develop nationally recognized expertise in an area of research in pediatric hematology-oncology and to develop adequate experience and preliminary data to allow them to establish independent research programs with extramural funding.
- Providing the fellow the opportunity to experience intense clinical activity in one area of pediatric hematology-oncology and equip them to be national experts in the area. Examples include (but would not be limited to) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, hematological pediatric malignancies, non-neural pediatric solid tumors and pediatric neuro-oncology.
The advanced training component lasts two years. During this time advanced fellows participate in patient care, education and research activities. They include:
The Zemel Scholarship was established in 2005 to support advanced studies in sarcomas.
There are 12 weeks of patient care related duties per year. This includes attending the outpatient clinic of the Division of Pediatrics as well as serving as a consultant to the pediatric inpatient service during the 12 weeks.
Didactic conference for pediatric residents and pediatric hematology-oncology fellows occur once a month, and there is presentation of case discussion at tumor boards once every three months. In addition, fellows attend the following weekly conferences: Institutional Grand Rounds, Pediatric Grand Rounds, Pediatric Tumor Boards.
The advanced trainee is expected to devote 75% of time to research in basic or translational research relevant to pediatric hematology-oncology. The trainee will work in the laboratory of a MD Anderson faculty member with an established, independent research program. The trainee is expected to function at the level of an advanced postdoctoral fellow capable of independently designing, executing and interpreting experiments. The trainee will also participate in the lab meetings and journal club activities supervised by the supervising faculty member.
Selection Process For First Year Fellows
Physicians who are eligible to apply for the fellowship position:
- By the start of the fellowship will have completed a three-year pediatrics or a four-year medicine-pediatrics residency program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in the United States or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada
- Are eligible to take the American Board of Pediatrics examination
Applications are reviewed by the Fellowship Committee. Selected applicants chosen on the basis of their credentials and letters of recommendations will be invited to MD Anderson for a formal interview. The interviews take place two days. Applicants will also have the opportunity to tour the facilities and meet with current fellows. The Fellowship Committee makes the final selection with input from all faculty. The fellowship program participates in the National Residency Match Program. The salary and fringe benefits are competitive. If you are interested in applying, please go to and review the application information noted below.
Selection Process for Advanced Training Fellows
Fellows in the first three years of the MD Anderson program are eligible to apply. In addition, physicians training in other pediatric hematology/ oncology programs are eligible for the advanced training years of the fellowship and are also encouraged to apply. Only candidates who have will have completed both a pediatric residency and a conventional pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship by the start date of this training program will be considered for this position. (Candidates can make application to the program prior to completion of the required training.) For those applicants trained in the U.S., prior training must be in ACGME-accredited programs. Applicants trained in other countries must be graduates of training programs accredited in the home country and which are internationally recognized as centers of excellence. Candidates must be eligible for a license or postgraduate resident permit to practice in Texas. Applications to the program will be accepted 18 to six months prior to the starting date. Interviews of applicants will take place in the same period.
- Strong potential for a productive career in academic pediatric hematology-oncology
- Evidence (from the trainee's curriculum vitae and from letters of recommendation from mentors who have worked closely with the trainee) of prior productive basic or translational research
- Competence in clinical pediatric hematology-oncology. Selection will be made by the program director in consultation with the chief of the Division of Pediatrics and the faculty of the department.
Cindy Schwartz, M.D., is head of the Division of Pediatrics ad interim.
Robert J. Wells, M.D., is the deputy division head. He oversees the clinical operations of the Division of Pediatrics, treats leukemia and lymphoma patients, and co-directs the fellowship program.
Cell Therapy (Bone Marrow Transplantation)
Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., is the section chief and leads laboratory research on developing and applying immunotherapies, as well as attending on the service. Dean Lee, M.D., Ph.D., leads laboratory efforts developing new therapies for acute myelogenous leukemia and altering immune function, and he attends on the service. Demetrios Petropoulos, M.D., attends on the service. Shulin Li, Ph.D., is a dedicated researcher in cell therapy. Laura Worth, M.D., Ph.D., is the medical director for the Children's Cancer Hospital and attends on the service.
Nidra Rodriguez, M.D., directs the hematology service. Patients are seen not only at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital but also at the Gulf Coast Hemophilia and Thrombocytopenia Center, Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital and LBJ County Hospital.
Pediatric ICU patients are cared for by four pediatric intensivists; Rodrigo Mejia, M.D., leads the team. He is joined by Regina Okhuysen-Cawley, M.D., Jose Cortes, M.D., and Sanju Samuel, M.D. Dr. Mejia is also in charge of the pediatric component of MD Anderson's Emergency Center.
Patrick Zweidler-McKay, M.D., Ph.D., is section chief of the leukemia and lymphoma service. He is joined by Robert Wells, M.D., Anna Franklin, M.D., Cesar Nunez, M.D., and Michael Rytting, M.D., in providing patient care. New and interesting patients are presented at a weekly conference. Dr. Franklin is the medical director for the Adolescent and Young Adult program (AYA). Joya Chandra, Ph.D., and Dr. Zweidler-McKay have active laboratories studying new drugs for leukemia treatment.
Soumen Khatua, M.D. leads the neuro-oncology program and is joined by Michael Rytting, M.D., to provide care for patients with brain and spine tumors. Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., targets basic science John Slopis, M.D., pediatric neurologist, directs a comprehensive clinic for children with neurofibromatosis. Nidale Tarek, M.D., specializes in treatment of children with neuroblastoma along with Joann Ater, M.D.
Non-Neural Solid Tumors
Pete Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., is section chief for the non-neural solid tumor team and has clinical interests that include osteosarcomas and bone metastases. Cynthia Herzog, M.D., heads the new agents program and has special expertise in rare pediatric soft tissue tumors. Najat Daw, M.D., specializes in bone tumors and oversees the Children's Oncology Group clinical trials. Winston Huh, M.D., has clinical interest in rhabdomyosarcoma and other soft-tissue tumors as well as long-term effects of cancer treatment. Huh is also director of the fellowship program. Nancy Gordon, M.D., focuses basic science research on the treatment of sarcomas.
The psychology section is led by Bartlett Moore, Ph.D., along with Rhonda Robert, Ph.D., and Martha Askins, Ph.D. The section has special expertise in neurofibromatosis and cognitive function in cancer patients, and has a remarkably well-developed program for the psychosocial and educational support of children with cancer and their families.
Long Term Follow-Up
Long-term survivors of childhood cancer are followed in this clinic, led by Joann Ater, M.D.
The division has several basic science laboratories. Eugenie S. Kleinerman, M.D., has interests in translational research that have resulted in the development of novel therapies for children with sarcomas. Joya Chandra, Ph.D., and her laboratory are studying new cancer therapies that cause cell death and oxidative stress. Vicki Huff, Ph.D., a member of the Department of Genetics, and a joint appointment in pediatrics, is characterizing the genetic defects in Wilm’s disease. Louise Strong, M.D., also in the genetics program with a joint appointment in pediatrics, is a world leader in familial cancers. Fellows in the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Program have access to these programs and also to other research programs in other departments of the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Patrick Zweidler-McKay, M.D., Ph.D., studies notch signaling in leukemia. Vidya Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., studies medulloblastoma. Dean Lee, M.D., Ph.D., and Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., are investigating approaches using cell therapy to target leukemia, neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers.
Applicants for the program must have completed an approved residency program and be eligible for the qualifying and certifying examinations for the American Board of Pediatrics by the time they enter the program.
The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship program participates in the National Residency Match Program (NRMP). Applications are received through Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and must be submitted based on the ERAS deadlines. All applications must be received and completed by February 15th for consideration. Applications are reviewed once they are complete.
Interviews will take place between January and March. The interview session is a two-day process and occurs on a Thursday and Friday. Three fellowship positions are filled annually and approximately 25 – 30 applicants are invited to interview for these positions.
- ERAS application
- Personal statement
- Curriculum vitae
- A minimum of three letters of recommendation from faculty members
- USMLE board scores
- Medical school transcript in its original language, as well as in English (copied and notarized, stating that it is a true copy of the original)
- ECFMG certificate (copied and notarized; approximately four to six weeks processing)
- MSPE or Dean's letter
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Winston Huh or Mrs. Jeanette Quimby.