Meet the Fellows



1st Year Fellows

Thomas Alexander
Thomas Alexander

I grew up in Atlanta and have since lived and studied at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina, where I completed Internal Medicine and Pediatric residency. My wife works as a counselor and in her spare time is a full time mom to our two young sons. They keep us smiling and humbled. When I am not in the hospital or chasing toddlers, I love to bike, fish or fiercely compete in tennis or golf at an astoundingly mediocre level of play. I chose St. Jude in order to efficiently maximize my clinical and research training. My goals during fellowship are to learn excellent clinical medicine and to develop research paths in treatment related morbidity, particularly focusing on leukemia and lymphoma management. Because of the diversity and abundance of patients, academic expertise, and support staff, I feel that I can accomplish more in less time at St. Jude than I could anywhere else.

Nickhill Bhakta
Nickhill Bhakta

My name is Nickhill Bhakta and I am originally from Chattanooga, TN. After graduating from college at Brown (’04) I deferred med school and spent a year in Eldoret, Kenya doing operational Tuberculosis research. That opportunity planted a seed that has persisted through med school (Cincinnati), public health school (Harvard), and residency (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles). I am truly excited St. Jude chose me since the global health opportunities here are unsurpassed and the institution felt like a tightknit community.

Hesham Eissa
Hesham Eissa

I am from Egypt and attended medical school at the University of Cairo. I completed a residency and fellowship in Hematology/Oncology Internal Medicine in Egypt before coming to the US to complete additional training. I did my Pediatric residency at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. I chose the pediatrics side of hematology/oncology as I enjoy working with kids and their families, and as I felt that BMT – my passion – represented a real hope for cure for kids. I could have never succeeded without the wonderful love and support provided by my beautiful wife and kids – the real heroes in this story – as they made it a joyful experience for all of us despite the challenges.

Caitlin Hurley
Caitlin Hurley

I am a life-long New Englander. I grew up outside of Boston, MA, attended undergraduate at Boston College, medical school at the University of Massachusetts and completed my residency at Brown University in Providence, RI. St. Jude drew me to the south by the end of my interview day. I was captivated by the energy on campus, the immense opportunities for research and the commitment to clinical care. I look forward to exploring Memphis, especially the vibrant culinary and music scenes!

Erica Kaye
Erica Kaye

I was born in New York and raised in Maryland. I studied English literature in college at Yale, and then took a year to travel/work in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Southern India. Then I went to Harvard Medical School, and again took an extra year to work in Guatemala and South Africa before starting pediatrics residency at Boston Children's Hospital. I've always been interested in pediatric oncology, but during residency, I also became really interested in pediatric palliative care. I'm especially interested in ways to improve communication around end-of-life issues, both in the US and internationally. My husband (Zach) is also in medicine (he was an OMFS resident, and then decided to switch career paths and is now doing radiology). Outside of the hospital, my favorite pastimes are singing, oil painting, re-teaching myself piano/guitar, and attempting to do the NY Times crossword (it doesn't usually go so well). Zach and I also love being outdoors, going to concerts, art festivals, and sporting events, and we are really excited to explore Memphis!

Nicholas Whipple
Nicholas Whipple

I grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and consider myself a southern boy. After serving for 2 years in Guatemala as an LDS (Mormon) missionary, I returned home unsure of what educational course to pursue. I watched the movie Patch Adams for the first time and felt that medicine would make an unforgettably worthwhile life career. I earned a degree in English at Ole Miss then attended the University of Mississippi Medical School. I crossed the country and completed pediatric residency training at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I found and fell in love with my beautiful wife. I now join St. Jude as a Fellow in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology where I'm privileged to be a part of a place where funding is no obstacle and the highest hopes for success can be supported. Each day is a new challenge. But the walls of St. Jude seem to hold stories that speak, and I am propelled to learn and to make whatever difference I can in the life of a patient and family.
2nd Year Fellows

Cristyn Branstetter
Cristyn Branstetter

My name is Cristyn Branstetter. I grew up to in Arkansas and stayed in-state for both college and medical school. I then moved a little further south to Houston, Texas where I completed my pediatric residency training at Baylor and Texas Children's Hospital. I chose St. Jude for my fellowship due to the wide range and depth of both clinical and research opportunities that are available here. I feel very lucky to be training in a place that is both extremely academically renowned and at the same time has such a compassionate overall mission. And as an added bonus I get to be in the south where I'm close to home and family.

Seth Karol
Seth Karol

I am from Ohio, having completed my residency in Cleveland. St. Jude is the perfect fit for me because of the fantastic clinical experience and research experience I am receiving. I'm very excited to be entering the lab to help contribute to the next generation of breakthroughs in one of the fantastic research labs here. I'm happy and grateful on a daily basis to be here in Memphis at this wonderful hospital.

Aimee Talleur
Aimee Talleur

I grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Albany. My family still resides in the Northeast. I attended Union College in Schenectady, NY and medical school in Syracuse, NY. I completed my pediatric residency at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. I never thought I would move to the South, but St. Jude pulled me in from the moment my interview day started. I was drawn to the overall spirit of the program and hospital, as well as the innumerable opportunities that are available to fellows. Since my arrival, everyone has been extremely welcoming and eager to teach. When I am not at work I enjoy tasting my husband's cooking, spending time with friends and family, trying new restaurants and exploring all that Memphis has to offer.

Rajoo Thapa
Rajoo Thapa

I grew up across the seven seas in the colorful land of India where I attended medical school and underwent pediatric residency training. This was followed by a second pediatric residency at Upstate Medical University, New York. Interestingly, the first time I had ever come across the words “St. Jude” was in Robbin’s Pathologic basis of disease (St. Jude’s Staging Classification for Childhood Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) during my second year in medical school. A little research and I realized what St. Jude was all about and what it stood for. Currently, as a physician in training, I realize strongly than ever before that the most blessed of all get the opportunity to care for the sickest of children. This stands particularly true in the setting of an institute par excellence like St. Jude. I am confident that St. Jude would prove instrumental in my growth both in the professional front towards the realization of an accomplished career in pediatric hematology/oncology as well as in the personal front towards becoming a compassionate, grateful and a humble individual.

Meaghann Weaver
Meaghann Weaver

I grew up hopping back n' forth across the Atlantic with my family (England, the Azorean Islands, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya), deciding to call home wherever I am currently planted. Memphis quickly became a favorite city based on the music, the warmth of the people and weather, and the soul-feel of the town. I double majored in African Studies and World Religions. I attended medical school in Nebraska and pediatric residency in Virginia. My passion for pediatric hematology, oncology, and palliative outreach evolved out of a recognition that too many of the world's children lack access to quality diagnostics, basic chemotherapy, pain management, and supportive care. Thus, my enthusiasm for St Jude stemmed from an admiration for the international outreach. My fellowship research (mentored by Dr. Pamela Hinds in Washington DC and Dr. Justin Baker at St Jude) is geared toward qualitative investigation of expectations and decision-making as affects adolescent patients and guardians. I am concurrently working on a masters in global epidemiology for formalized training in "all things numbers" as relates to tracking cancer trends. My husband, Glen, is an active duty pilot and avid safari photographer with an eagerness to help me re-map Burkitt's Africa - well, maybe one day.
3rd Year Fellows
Tammie Chang
Tamara Chang
My name is Tamara (Tammie) Chang. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, attended college and medical school at Brown University in Rhode Island, and completed a combined internal medicine / pediatrics residency at the University of Massachusetts. I have long been interested in the late effects of cancer treatment on pediatric cancer survivors. I am fascinated by the potential for the use of genomic medicine to better understand the interindividual variability inherent in the sequelae of cancer treatment, and for its potential impact on risk stratification and clinical trials. I was drawn to St. Jude, not only for the unparalleled opportunities for research with the world leaders in the fields of pharmacogenomics and late effects, but also by the mission of this institution which resonated with me in a way unlike anywhere else.
Ross Goshorn
Ross Goshorn
Hi, my name is Ross Goshorn. I grew up in the low country of South Carolina. For residency I escaped to the verdant Pacific Northwest and completed my pediatric residency training at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland Oregon. What struck me most on my interview day was the passion of the faculty and depth of research opportunities. No other institution could compare with the depth and breadth of the basic science, clinical and translational research opportunities.
Carol O'Hear
Carol O'Hear
My name is Carol O’Hear. I am originally from Ft. Wayne, IN, but went to med school/grad school in Seattle, WA. I completed residency at the Boston Combined Residency Program at Children’s Hospital Boston and Boston Medical Center. I chose St. Jude because of the ability to follow and have good mentorship available for any career path in Hem/Onc. In addition, lifestyle in Memphis and at St. Jude is preferable for both pursuing my own outside interests and for quality of life for my family while in fellowship.
Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh
I grew up between the United States and Ireland. I completed a five year combined Pediatric & Genetics Residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. I feel very fortunate to have been selected to train as a Fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Hematology/Oncology. My attraction to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is fourfold: the hospital’s mission to treat any child diagnosed with a catastrophic illness regardless of their ability to pay, the presence of leaders in the field, the success of various protocols and the potential for rapid breakthrough given the hospital’s infrastructure.
4th Year Fellow
Beth Stewart
Elizabeth Stewart
I am originally from Peoria, Illinois, and I completed my pediatric residency training at Phoenix Children's Hospital. I joined the Michael Dyer lab where my research focuses on the development of new therapeutics using pre-clinical models for pediatric solid malignancies. At St. Jude, I have received fantastic mentorship and support in both clinical and research endeavors. I grew up around St. Jude as there is an affiliate hospital in my hometown, and it was a dream come true to finally get the chance to work at such an amazing hospital. The family-like atmosphere of this hospital is incredible, and I feel blessed to work at such a place whose mission is entirely focused on the kids. I love to run and I have participated in the Memphis to Peoria Run benefitting St. Jude for the past 10 years.
Chief Fellow
Erin Sullivan
Erin Sullivan
I am originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. I attended Georgetown Medical School and completed my pediatric residency at Stanford University in California. I chose St. Jude because of the diverse patient population. St. Jude has a separate outpatient clinic for Leukemia/Lymphoma, Hematology, Neuro-Oncology, and Solid Tumor. In addition, the inpatient services are divided up. I knew that I would get exposure to every diagnosis because so many patients are sent here world-wide. Currently, I am the Chief Fellow and I am completing my NK cell research in Dr. Wing Leung’s lab. My research is funded by the Physician Scientist Training Award which I received in 2011. I have loved my time in fellowship at St. Jude and could not imagine a more amazing place to train.
BMTCT Fellows
BMT/PSTP Fellow
Susanne Wendt
Susanne Wendt
I'm originally from Germany and went to University of Leipzig for Med School where after completion I also did a doctoral thesis in a neurophysiology lab. This sparked my interest in lab research but I knew that I actually also wanted to work as a physician. I did a residency in Pediatrics and a Critical Care Fellowship at the Children's University Hospital in Mainz, Germany. I learned about St. Jude during my Oncology rotations. I visited for a 4 week internship in 2008 and I knew that this would be the place to learn about Oncology. There is no other hospital for a fellow to get more exposure to the "bread and butter" but also the rare, complex or difficult to treat patients. And there is also no other place to get a glimpse into science, become a scientist or at least understand their language whatever your plan is. I have seen no other teaching hospital offering more research opportunities and being more welcoming to a clinician. And the best of all, St. Jude is an amazing place with a great attitude towards all children regardless of ethnicity or financial background and a hospital. That's why I came to St. Jude and I didn't regret for a second.
Neuro-Oncology Fellows
Omar Chamdine
Omar Chamdine
I was born in Saida in south Lebanon where I went to school after which I traveled far away from home to country of snow (Belarus) where I got my degree in medicine. When I got back home I did my pediatric residency at Makassed General Hospital where fate crossed me with my other half and our life blessed with a beautiful son. I had a great opportunity following pediatric residency to go to France and do a fellowship in pediatric Hematology oncology which I followed by 2 years of pediatric hematology oncology fellowship at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon through which I was very lucky to have opportunity to pursue higher education at an amazing and special place like St Jude Children's research Hospital where people work to cure kids in the best way possible and at the same time share their experience and knowledge with all interested medical workers. I am very excited to be part of the St Jude team and work with all the people there especially in the pediatric Neuro-Oncology where I will be training.
Emily Gertsch
Emily Gertsch
After a brief career as a tax consultant, I entered the medical field, completing medical school in St. Louis and obtaining a master of public health degree in Boston. From there, I did my pediatric training at the Mayo Clinic and pediatric neurology residency at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver. I decided early on that I was interested in pediatric neuro-oncology because of the pathology, co-morbidities, and relationships with patients and their families that are possible with life-threatening illness. St. Jude is a fellow’s dream, in my opinion, due to the astounding resources, mentorship, research opportunities, and clinical experience this institution provides. When I’m not at work, you can find me exploring the local bike trails, trying out a new restaurant, or taking in the live music scene in Memphis. Having grown up in North Carolina, I am thrilled to be back in the South and look forward to running my first St. Jude marathon this year!
Karen Tsui
Karen Tsui
I am from Auckland, New Zealand. I completed my clinical Pediatric and Hematology / Oncology training at Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland. In addition I have an interest in infections in the immunosuppressed group, and partook in a year of Infectious Diseases elective training. I feel extremely privileged to work and contribute in a world renowned Brain Tumor Research Centre, which has protocols that have seen improved survival rates in children diagnosed with common and rare brain tumors. I am thrilled with the opportunity to learn, and hope to bring these skills and experience home to help our kids. I have been involved in epidemiology research of brain tumor in NZ, and developed an interest in the unique incidence and survival of medulloblastoma in Maori children, our native population. I am certain the experts at St. Jude will provide me with insight and directions into further research in this area.