Jessica Altman, MD
- Assistant Professor, Hematology-Oncology
- ‘Be the Match’ registry member and advocate
- Will not leave the house without her Kindle
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"I love to teach what I know. I also love when I am asked a question from a new perspective that causes me to re-think things. Questions from medical students, residents, and fellows prompt me to continue to learn and reassess our practices."
How did you decide on your specialty?
Currently, I focus on caring for patients with blood cancers, mostly on adults with acute and chronic leukemias. I chose this specialty because of the high acuity, ease of conducting translational research, and the close relationships I am able to build with my patients and their families.
I think I have the best job! I am constantly learning about how to better treat leukemia. I try to understand a little bit about the biology of leukemia and try to translate that into new and hopefully more effective treatments. In addition, I develop very close relationships with my patients and their families, and have a chance to work with an outstanding group of people every day.
Tell us more about the Be the Match registry.
Be the Match is the new name for the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry. I joined the registry in college because I knew of someone who needed a stem cell transplant.
The NMDP is an integral part of our work. Unrelated donors comprise a large portion of stem cell donors for our patients. I joined the registry many years ago now but do not think that I could ethically care for patients with leukemia if I were not part of the registry, as stem cell transplant is a key component for some patients with leukemia.
Join this great cause at: http://www.marrow.org/
What are the benefits of working at a university-affiliated center?
I work with members of the university other than physicians (pharmacology, biostats, and other scientific areas). I would not be able to conduct my research without their assistance. In addition, our clinical research office is instrumental in allowing us to appropriately conduct clinical protocols. I also really appreciate being able to call colleagues who can provide assistance in direct patient care.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Internal medicine is such a rewarding career and I look forward to caring for my patients and their families, and growing as a physician and a person. In 10 years, I hope to still be in Chicago, working on identifying signal transduction pathways of importance in leukemia and conducting clinical trials based on our work from the lab.