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Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Omar Nadeem, MD

  • Advances in Hematologic Malignancies
    Issue 10, Spring 2019

    Why did you decide to work in oncology?

    The breadth of scientific advancements in oncology research and treatment piqued my interest during medical school and residency training. With the development of numerous targeted therapies, I believe medical oncology is a field that holds great promise for patients in need. I also understood the immense difficulty patients with cancer and their families deal with and felt honored to be able to help them through their journey at a very difficult time. I believe the field of oncology allows for a unique bond between the patient and their medical team.

    Tell us about the condition(s) you specialize in. Why is this an area of interest to you? What led you to focus here?

    I specialize in caring for patients with multiple myeloma and other plasma cell disorders. I always found hematologic malignancies most fascinating due to their wide range of presentations and treatment options. I initially specialized in caring for patients with all types of hematologic malignancies and decided to focus my research and career solely on multiple myeloma last year. I believe the advances in multiple myeloma over the past decade are unparalleled, which has led to significant improvement in patient outcomes. I wanted to be at the forefront of cancer research in this rapidly developing area of oncology and also enjoy the long-term relationships that are formed caring for patients with multiple myeloma.

    What are the main challenges in this area? How do you address these challenges with patients/families?

    One of the biggest challenges in this area is that no two patients with multiple myeloma are alike. Within this disease, there is so much variability, and I try to tailor treatment to the individual as much as possible. While the disease still remains incurable, treatments can now allow for long-term disease control with the discovery of numerous novel therapies. However, this can lead to an overwhelming amount of medications patients have to take, which can be challenging. I try my best to help them navigate through the treatments and related side effects throughout their myeloma journey.

    Describe your research work. Why is this an area of interest for you?

    My research focus involves clinical trials investigating novel therapies in myeloma and plasma cell disorders. These trials can range from addressing the disease in its precursor state (smoldering myeloma or MGUS), newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, and in relapsed disease. I am particularly interested in targeted therapy, immunotherapy approaches, and risk-stratified therapy, where we can begin to hopefully tailor treatment to an individual based on their unique myeloma profile. I am also interested in bringing clinical trials from the large academic centers to the community centers, where most myeloma patients are treated but where patients and physicians may not have access to the latest treatments under investigation.

    What are you most excited about in multiple myeloma? What holds promise for patients?

    I am most excited about the sheer discovery of numerous novel and targeted agents in myeloma, ranging from antibody-based approaches to immunotherapy. Outcomes for patients with myeloma are improving at a rapid rate, and we are just now beginning to understand the disease at a deeper molecular level, which will hopefully in-turn lead to more individualized therapy. I am also excited about chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which has led to unprecedented responses in relapsed and refractory myeloma. I am hopeful that we will continue to have further advances in treatments for our patients that are not only effective but also well-tolerated.

    What do you like to do when you’re not caring for patients/doing research? What do you do for fun?

    I am a proud New York sports fan, which doesn’t go over so well in Boston! I also enjoy golf in the summers, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

    Learn more about Dr. Nadeem