Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH, is the new director of the University of Arizona Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Training Program in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the UA Department of Medicine and UA Cancer Center.
As of May 1, she replaces Andrew Yeager, MD, who has stepped down due to retirement. Dr. Yeager’s actual retirement is June 29. Just this past week, though, he was named a professor emeritus of medicine by the University of Arizona. He plans to be involved in educating fellows and already has committed to deliver several lectures and lead the "fellows' boot camp."
“That’s the week-long course called ‘Introduction to Clinical and Translational Research,’” Dr. Yeager said. “We started it in 2012, at which time we offered it to Hem-Onc fellows and Radiation Oncology residents. The course has become so popular that fellows and residents inother divisions and departments now also participate and we offer it twice a year. It’s one of the unique educational opportunities I really hope we continue.”
Dr. Chalasani, who became associate program director only last fall, said she was excited about the opportunity to further help mold and shape physician training in the program at a time when so much is changing with respect to advances in treatment due to translational research and precision medicine.
“It’s very rewarding,” she said.
A Graduate of the Program
Dr. Chalasani joined the faculty at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson as an assistant professor after completing her fellowship in the UA Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship program in 2012. She completed her residency in internal medicine in the UA Department of Medicine prior to that. This experience gives her a unique perspective on training at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, having been through it as a fellow and resident herself, she acknowledges.
Since 2014, Dr. Chalasani has been co-director of the UA Hemophilia Thrombosis Adult Treatment Center and sees patients with clotting and bleeding disorders. She specializes in breast cancer and also sees patients for treatment decisions regarding hormonal therapy (anti-estrogen therapy), chemotherapy, and second opinions. She also is very active in research and has several ongoing translational and clinical projects. Her key interest is in development of predictive genetic biomarkers—imaging, blood based or tissue.
In fall 2014, she won a Career Development Award from the UA Health Sciences to further related research on breast cancer. She is the principal investigator on several industry-sponsored and co-operative group protocols, as well as for several investigator-initiated trials. She has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Better Than Ever (UACC) and the UA Cancer Center-pilot funding mechanism.
UACC Breast Cancer Team (right): Kim Fitzpatrick, MD; Sima Ehsani, MD; Victor Gonzalez, MD; Kathryn Clark, NP; Dr. Chalasani; Rebecca Viscusi, MD; and Marisa Borders, MD
Earlier, Dr. Chalasani earned her medical degree from Gandhi Medical College in Secunderabad, India, and completed a master’s in public health, majoring in epidemiology, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
A Career’s Best Years
Since 1990, Dr. Yeager has consistently been on the “Best Doctors,” “Top Oncologists” and “Top Doctors for Cancer” lists. In 2015, Newsweek magazine named him one of the nation's “Top Cancer Doctors.” In 2016, he was one of the physicians featured in Tucson Lifestyle magazine’s “Top Doctors” issue, which highlights a nationwide list compiled by Castle Connolly of those physicians selected by their peers as among the nation’s best.
Dr. Yeager’s major clinical and research activities address hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for hematologic malignancies and non-malignant diseases, a field where he’s internationally recognized for his studies in adults and children with leukemia and in children with genetic storage diseases or sickle cell anemia. He joined the UA College of Medicine – Tucson faculty in 2005 as a tenured professor of medicine and pediatrics, serving as director of the Clinical Research Shared Service (2005-07) and the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program (2005-12) at the UA Cancer Center and UA Medical Center—now Banner – University Medical Center. Later, he became director of the hospital’s Radiation Injury Treatment Network (2007) and the Multidisciplinary Graft-vs.-Host Disease Clinic (2012), and the UA Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellowship Program (2014). At the College of Medicine - Tucson, Dr. Yeager was a mentor in the Societies Program (since 2014) and was a member (2013-16) and chair (2015-16) of the Committee on Admissions.
Before coming to the UA, Dr. Yeager was director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Stem Cell Transplantation Biology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (2000-05). He served in a similar role at the Emory University School of Medicine/Winship Cancer Institute (1998-2000), where he also served as director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation (1993-2000) and BMT/Leukemia Program (1995-98), and was a professor of pediatrics, medicine, neurology, and cell biology and anatomy. Prior to that, he was an associate professor of pediatrics, oncology and neurology at Johns Hopkins University (1982-93). At Johns Hopkins, he also earned his bachelor’s degree in human biology, completed an internship, residency and chief residencyin pediatrics, and was a fellow in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program. He’s a native of Newark, N.J.
“While I’ve actually had a number of appointments at fine academic institutions, the appointment here at the University of Arizona is the longest. I’m very proud and I’m honored to be able to say that,” Dr. Yeager said.
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