Two Oncologists with Special Interest in Immunotherapy Join Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s

The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s has added two oncologists, Dr. Josephine HaDuong and Dr. Ashley Plant, to its team of nationally recognized specialists. Both physicians were fellowship trained at two of the country’s top cancer programs, and share research interest in immunotherapy and targeted therapies.

Dr. Josephine HaDuong and Dr. Ashley Plant

Dr. Josephine HaDuong

Board-certified in pediatric hematology and oncology, Dr. HaDuong was drawn to the Cancer Institute for what she refers to as its gold standard of care. “The Hyundai Cancer Institute is a growing center that strives to be among the best. The team provides patients access to cutting-edge clinical trials that may lead to breakthroughs in pediatric cancer,” says Dr. HaDuong.

A published author and principal investigator in a number of studies, Dr. HaDuong’s major research activities include exploring developmental therapeutics in solid tumors using immunomodulatory and targeted agents, as well as functional imaging in bone and soft tissue sarcomas using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Her research is driven, in large part, by her clinical interest in caring for patients with solid tumors.

Following medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a full tuition merit scholarship, Dr. HaDuong completed her residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  She was honored with the Fellow of the Year, Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. HaDuong is a member of numerous professional associations, including American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and North American Consortium for Histiocytosis. In addition to English, she speaks Spanish and Vietnamese.

Raised in Orange County, Dr. HaDuong is thrilled to be back in her hometown. “I have always wanted to return home to serve the children and families in Orange County. I look forward to being a part of an incredible team who works relentlessly to end cancer,” explains Dr. HaDuong.

Dr. Ashley Plant

Committed to growing CHOC’s neuro-oncology treatment program, Dr. Plant is eager to bring new and exciting therapies to patients with brain tumors. “I look forward to collaborating with academia and industry to bring early clinical trials to CHOC, especially in the area of immunotherapy. I am also excited to partner with my new colleagues to advance the work the Cancer Institute has been doing to reduce the long-term toxicities of cancer therapy,” says Dr. Plant.

A published author, Dr. Plant’s research interests include early phase clinical trial design for pediatric brain tumors. Her most recent project is a phase 1 clinical trial for a neo-antigen heat shock protein vaccine for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a fatal brain tumor. She hopes to enroll patients in this trial within the next year. She considers herself fortunate to have worked under world-renowned immuno-oncologists Dr. Glenn Dranoff and Dr. Jerome Ritz at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. There, she won the Young Investigator Award for a project evaluating clonality of T cell receptors in pediatric gliomas.

Following medical school at Stanford University, Dr. Plant finished her residency at University of California, Los Angeles. Her fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology was completed at Boston Children’s Hospital. She received additional training in clinical trials and public health at Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

“I was attracted to CHOC because the hospital prioritizes excellent clinical care of patients above all else,” says Dr. Plant. “The hospital’s commitment to patient-and-family-centered care is something I wholeheartedly support. Cancer affects everyone in the family – physically, emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even financially. If we fail to address these issues, we are not completely caring for our patients and their families.”

What CHOC Physicians are Grateful for this Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, CHOC Children’s physicians explain what they’ll consider when giving thanks this holiday.

 

“CHOC has provided me with lifelDr. Neda Zadehong blessings. I am grateful to have grown up at and with this hospital, from the initial CHOC Tower to the current Bill Holmes Tower, through pediatric residency training and beyond.  To now be a member of such a remarkable team of providers — including our nurses and support staff — is both humbling and inspiring. Every day, I am especially thankful for the families who cross our threshold, and entrust the care of their most precious children to us. With continued commitment and dedication toward the health and well-being of our children, the future will be brighter than any of us can imagine.”
– Dr. Neda Zadeh, genetics

 

Dr. Kenneth Grant

 

 

“I am thankful to be working for an organization that creates an environment where our patients become our family. I am also grateful that CHOC Children’s has the foresight to invest in the innovative ideas we have to improve the health care we provide.”
 – Dr. Kenneth Grant, gastroenterology

 

 

 

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“I am thankful for the opportunity with be partnered with an excellent children’s hospital. I am also thankful for the pleasure of working with other positive people who provide outstanding care to the children of Orange County. Together, we work to improve the care and services we deliver to our most important resource — our children.”
– Dr. Daniel Mackey, pediatrics

 

 

 

 

Dr. Lilbeth Torno

“I am grateful for the incredible team we have in oncology, inlcuding   doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, the research team, members of ancillary services, our inpatient, clinic and OPI staff, administrative support, and other subspecialists, who all have great minds and compassionate hearts, and walk the difficult cancer journey with our patients and their families. I am humbled to be with such great company here at CHOC, who care deeply for children.”
– Dr. Lilibeth Torno, oncology

 

 

 

goodman_tg“I am most grateful to the people behind the scenes at the hospital who do all the invisible jobs that are so important to keep CHOC Children’s running: the housekeepers, lab and x-ray technologists, bio-medical engineers, pharmacy technicians, scrub technicians, security guards and maintenance staff that work tirelessly, 24-hours a day.”
– Dr. Gary Goodman, critical care

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. William Loudon

“I am most thankful for the ability to practice alongside of the caring and professional staff and physicians at CHOC, who all share the common goal of caring for children. Working together, we are able to tackle incredibly complex and varied problems that present in the amazingly diverse population of children that we serve.”
Dr. William Loudon, neurosurgery

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I am thankDr. Amy Harrisonful for so many things here at CHOC. I feel truly blessed every day to have found a professional community of like-minded caregivers who share a passion and dedication for continued improvement in the care we provide. I am also so grateful for the opportunity to meet and care for such incredibly courageous patients and to become a part of their families. Finally, I am thankful to my teams within the pulmonary division, the Cystic Fibrosis Center and the muscular dystrophy clinics for their selfless care of our patients. I wish our entire community a healthy and happy holiday season.”
Dr. Amy Harrison, pulmonology

 

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“I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve my patients and families, and to help them secure bright futures through CHOC’s world-class care. I am also so grateful to work among a team that is steadfastly committed to the health and well-being of children in our community and beyond. “
Dr. Mary Zupanc, neurology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“I am thankful for the platform CHOC has given us to provide service to a community that inspires me daily. I am humbled to just be part of it all.”
Dr. Afshin Aminian, orthopaedics

Domnic Fernandez Joins CHOC as Director, Hyundai Cancer Institute

Domnic Fernandez has been named director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.  Working closely with hospital and physician leaders, he is responsible for advancing CHOC’s position as a leading destination for innovative pediatric and adolescent cancer treatments.

CHOC Children's

“The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC has a stellar reputation, including being ranked a top pediatric cancer program by U.S. News & World Report.  Its physicians, researchers and staff are dedicated to changing the future of cancer treatments: finding a cure and securing meaningful survivorship for our patients.  I am honored to be a part of this team, and look forward to helping continue to secure the brightest and healthiest futures for children,” said Domnic.

Fernandez joins CHOC from Adventist Healthcare, where he served as a vice president overseeing outpatient practices at four regional hospitals.  Service lines under his purview included primary care, urgent care, pediatrics, endocrinology, cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurology, electrophysiology and obstetrics/gynecology.  In addition to improving productivity and increasing referrals, he created a patient experience team that helped increase patient satisfaction scores by 22 percent.

Previously, Fernandez has worked in a variety of leadership positions at hospitals in Virginia and Minnesota.   His healthcare experience includes practice management, strategic planning, business development, revenue cycle management, physician and patient satisfaction initiatives, regulatory compliance, clinical outcomes and continuous process improvements, and marketing.  In addition to launching new clinics and managing practice acquisitions, he’s assumed responsibility for several electronic health record (EHR) go lives and optimizations.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, Fernandez completed the master’s in health care administration program at St. Xavier University in Chicago.  He is a member of the Medical Group Management Association and American College of Medical Practice Executives.

“The Hyundai Cancer Institute is a gem in our community, and I look forward to working with our subspecialists and referring community physicians to ensure children get the excellent care they need close to home,” stated Domnic.

Domnic can be reached at dfernandez@choc.org.

 

CHOC Joins National Pediatrics Consortium to Fight Childhood Cancer

 

Announced this week, the Cancer Institute is among 10 founding members of the Cancer MoonShot 2020 Pediatrics Consortium, the pediatric arm of a collaborative initiative launched earlier this year involving academic institutions, insurers and pharmaceutical companies working to create a new paradigm in cancer treatment. Cancer MoonShot 2020 aims to initiate randomized Phase II trials in 20,000 patients with 20 tumor types of all stages within three years. Those findings would inform Phase III trials and the development of a vaccine-based immunotherapy by the year 2020.

Moonshot 2020’s Quantitative Integrative Lifelong Trial (QUILT) program will allow Pediatrics Consortium participants to apply the most comprehensive cancer molecular diagnostic testing available, as well as leverage proven and promising combination immunotherapies and clinical trials. Additionally, infrastructure established by MoonShot 2020 will allow for real-time data sharing to accelerate clinical learning and insight among participants.

“The Pediatric Cancer MoonShot 2020 is so visionary and, at the same time, has the capacity to disrupt the cancer health care industrial complex,” says Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Cancer Institute. “The Cancer MoonShot will attempt to cure all the numerous types of pediatric cancers with the least toxicity by harnessing the patients’ own immune systems and using the tumors’ unique genomic mutations to create individualized cancer vaccines.”

The work to be accelerated by Cancer MoonShot dovetails with existing efforts around genomic sequencing, precision medicine, bioinformatics and research at CHOC’s Cancer Institute. CHOC has been named a Caris Center of Excellence for its commitment to precision medicine, and participates in the California Kids Cancer Comparison, which brings big data bioinformatics to patients. CHOC has also recently enrolled its first patient in a multi-center clinical study for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with investigational immunotherapy.

“Our Center has studied the value of whole genome sequencing for several years and has recognized the enormous value in such a test to assist in clinical decision making,” Dr. Sender says. “Now with the availability of the next evolution of molecular diagnostics from the genome to the proteome, we are excited by the acceleration of knowledge that this system will provide and are honored to be a founding member of such an important initiative.”

20140916_2712The formation of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 Pediatrics Consortium was shaped by three underlying drivers:

  1. Treatment of cancer – a heterogeneous disease shaped by multiple variables – requires a more personalized and precise approach. The Pediatrics Consortium will lead and use next-generation precision clinical genomic-proteomics enabling doctors and patients to get the most comprehensive molecular diagnosis in the market.
  2. The collaboration across industry and the medical and scientific community, as well as whole genomic and proteomic sequencing and clinical trials established under Cancer MoonShot, will help reduce barriers in the battle against pediatric cancer.
  3. The benefits afforded by a real-time data sharing infrastructure established by Cancer MoonShot 2020, combined with multiple participation from pharmaceutical companies, have not previously been available to individual pediatric cancer centers.

In addition to CHOC, the other founding members of the Consortium are Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC; Duke Department of Pediatrics – Duke University School of Medicine;  Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center; Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital; Phoenix Children’s Hospital; and Sanford Health.

 

 

Dr. Leonard Sender Discusses Genomic Cancer Research

Genomic cancer treatment examines a patient’s genomes to reveal individualized treatment to best battle cancer, Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, tells “American Health Journal.”

Using this method, scientists for the first time can devise science-directed medicine, rather than evidence-based medicine, Dr. Sender says.

Learn more about genomic cancer research in “American Health Journal,” a television program that airs on PBS and other national network affiliates that reach more than 30 million households.

Each 30-minute episode features six segments with a diverse range of medical specialists discussing a full spectrum of health topics. For more information, visit www.discoverhealth.tv.

Leonard Sender, M.D., received his medical education in South Africa and completed his pediatrics internship and residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. His pediatrics hematology/oncology subspecialty training included Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

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