Faculty Educator of the Month: May 2010

Susan M. O’Brien, M.D

Susan M. O’Brien, M.D., Professor in the Department of Leukemia and Clinical Consultant and Special Assistant to the Physician-in-Chief, has been named the May 2010 Faculty Educator of the Month.

Throughout her career in researching and treating leukemia, Dr. O’Brien has been well recognized for her clinical efforts. At the same time, she has been active in training physicians both within and outside MD Anderson. In particular, each year, Dr. O’Brien supervises three fellows in weekly clinical activities. One of her previous fellows is Jorge Cortes, M.D., who is now the Deputy Chair for the Department of Leukemia.

In addition, Dr. O’Brien delivers annual lectures on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) to MD Anderson fellows. She is also a featured speaker at the annual board reviews at MD Anderson and The George Washington University.

Furthermore, Dr. O’Brien has been in great demand as a speaker or presenter, appearing at a long list of meetings and conferences throughout the world. In particular, she has made several presentations on CLL and acute lymphoblastic leukemia as the chair of or a participant in educational sessions at annual meetings of the American Society of Hematology and American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. O’Brien will once again chair an educational session on CLL at the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

Dr. O’Brien has been honored multiple times for her clinical efforts. In particular, she received the Fourth Annual Melvin L. Samuels Award for Excellence in Patient Care; made the Best Doctors in America list in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002-2004, 2009, and 2010; was named one of America’s Top Physicians in 2003-2005; appeared on both the Top Doctors and Texas Super Doctors list in 2009 and 2010 (Texas Monthly magazine); and was named one of Houston’s Top Doctors in 1998 and 2002.

Dr. O’Brien receiver her M.D. degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark in 1980. She went on to complete a residency in internal medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1983. She then served there as an Instructor in Medicine from 1983 to 1984 before moving to California, where she served as an Instructor in the San Fernando Valley Program in the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and an Internist in the University of Southern California Student Health Service.

In 1985, Dr. O’Brien came to MD Anderson, where she completed a fellowship in 1987. She then joined the MD Anderson faculty as a Faculty Associate. She went on to be promoted to Instructor in 1988, Assistant Professor in 1989, and Associate Professor in 1995. She was named Clinical Consultant and Special Assistant to the Physician-in-Chief in 1997 and promoted to her current position of Professor in 1999.

Dr. O’Brien has served on a wide array of committees and groups at MD Anderson. Specifically, she has been the Chair for the Institutional Review Board since 2007 and a member of the board since 1997. She also has been a member of the Standing Committee for Clinical Affairs since 1997.

During her time at MD Anderson, Dr. O’Brien has been the principal investigator or a co-principal investigator for 5 funded research projects and the primary investigator for more than 20 funded protocols. In addition, she has served on the Translational Research Study Section for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 2001.

Currently, Dr. O’Brien is a section editor for the journal Cancer and serves on the editorial boards for two other journals. Over the course of her career, Dr. O’Brien has authored more than 500 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, 19 invited articles, 27 book chapters, 2 books, and a long list of abstracts.