Our fellows are a lively, close-knit group with diverse professional and personal passions. Although each has achieved great things before entering our doors, our fellows graduate from the program with a deeper reservoir of knowledge and experience to pursue their dreams.
St. Jude is a great place to work. We hope you’ll consider joining our team.
Taylor Aglio, MD
After spending my childhood growing up in a small town in Connecticut, I ventured to Baltimore, Maryland to attend Loyola College. I then returned to Connecticut to work as a research assistant in pediatric type 1 diabetes at Yale School of Medicine. After this year, I attended the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. It was during this time that I fell in love with the field of pediatric oncology and knew that I wanted to care for this special population of children. I then headed to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to complete my pediatric residency training and stayed for an additional year as a hospitalist in the oncology department. Along the way I met my husband Ryan, an Emergency Medicine physician, and we are looking forward to escaping the cold North East and heading South to be surrounded by sunshine and BBQ! I am incredibly excited and humbled to be joining the St. Jude community and look forward to pursuing my interests in palliative oncology.
Tarun Aurora, MD
I was born in Detroit but at a very young age moved to sunny Atlanta, GA. Essentially I’ve been bred to love the Braves, the Falcons, Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, and sweet tea. I studied biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and quickly realized I enjoyed the patient aspect of my learning. During medical school, I developed a love for medicine in both the adult and pediatric populations. After finishing at the Medical College of Georgia, I moved to the Midwest to pursue a Med-Peds residency at the fantastic institutions of University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. During my time there, I discovered a passion for hematology and the importance of transitional care for hematologic conditions. I was also fortunate enough to travel to Sub-Saharan Africa to conduct research on point of care hemoglobin testing in the setting of anemia. During my time in Cincinnati, I acquired an interest in adult learning theory and received a certificate in medical education. I am thoroughly looking forward to pursuing a combined Hematology/Oncology fellowship with St. Jude and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, and continuing my clinical research interests in transitional care, education, and global health.
Maggie Besler, MD
I was born and raised in central Illinois. I earned my undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before attending medical school. I called Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin Medical University home for five years where I completed my MS in Healthcare Administration and my MD. I was excited to head south to Memphis (where it wouldn’t snow in April) to complete my pediatric residency at University of Tennessee. It was during my residency rotations at St. Jude that I fell in love with pediatric hematology and oncology and the St. Jude family. I am so excited to continue my career at this tremendous institution that stretches the existing limits of medicine through outstanding research and clinical care.
I was lucky to meet my husband during my time in Memphis. We currently live on Mud Island with our dog, Mr. Feeny. I enjoy running, cooking, watching the Grizzlies play, and seeing shows at the Orpheum.
Senthil Bhoopalan, MBBS
I grew up in India and went to medical school in Chennai where I met my wife. Having my spent entire life in Chennai, I decided to move out to purse graduate education in molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park. Other than being in the lab, most of my time was spent playing racquetball while in Maryland. My wife and I got married and couples-matched into pediatrics in Las Vegas. As residency was not tiring enough (sic), we also had our baby boy Liam in Vegas. We are both excited about our move to Memphis and explore the Southern culture! My wife will be pursuing a NICU fellowship at La Bonheur, Memphis and running after Liam during her downtime. I enjoy playing soccer, cricket, racquetball and planning DIY projects that never get started.
Jessica Bodea, MD
Although originally from southern California, I predominantly grew up in and call Scottsdale, Arizona home after my family relocated when I was young. I attended Arizona State University where I completed my undergraduate education in Psychology. While I had always been involved with children as a pre-school teacher, instructor with the Boys and Girls Club, and youth girls’ basketball coach, I discovered my interest in medicine and pediatrics specifically after spending time as a child life volunteer at Phoenix Children's Hospital. I left Arizona to complete my medical education at New York Medical College where I first discovered my interest in pediatric hematology & oncology. After spending my last 3 years back in Arizona completing my residency at Phoenix Children's Hospital, I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to be relocating to Memphis to join the St. Jude family for fellowship. Outside of the hospital I enjoy spending time with my dog Teddy, cooking, running and road biking.
Kenneth Caldwell, MD
I was born and raised in Ft. Myers, Florida. I went to the University of Florida for undergraduate and medical school. My interest in pediatrics grew out of experiences teaching a summer tennis camp and working at Camp Boggy Creek, a camp for seriously ill children. I completed pediatric residency at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital where I developed an interest in medical education and experimental therapeutics.
My wife, Kelsey, is an occupational therapist. We recently got a puppy, Finn, and all 3 of us are excited to move back to warmer weather. We love college sports (Go Gators!), running, hiking, camping, and look forward to the BBQ of Memphis. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn and work at St. Jude.
George Christakopoulos, MD
I was born and raised in Pyrgos, a small town in South Greece. At the age of 18 I moved to Athens to start my journey in medicine at the University of Athens School of Health Sciences. Seeking to expand my horizons and aiming for the best, I pursued clinical experience in the United States and Canada. My first experience of practicing medicine in the US was during my clinical elective in Hematology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital; this experience affirmed my decision to continue my training in the US to become a pediatric hematologist/oncologist. After graduation and having always been excited to combine clinical practice with research, I moved to the U.S. where I participated in both clinical and basic science research as a post-doctoral research fellow at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and Cincinnati Children's Hospital, respectively. After completing almost three years of research training, I was ready to embark on the next chapter of my career as a pediatric resident. I was honored to be accepted at the University of Minnesota Pediatrics Residency Program where I completed the ABP Integrated Research Pathway of the Physician Scientist Program. Being interested in pursuing a career as a physician-scientist in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology & BMT, I could not think a better place than St Jude Children's Research Hospital for my training. I am so privileged and excited to be part of St. Jude family where people with diverse interests have unified their efforts to fight pediatric cancer and other catastrophic blood disorders.
Caitlyn Duffy, MD
I was born in North Carolina and raised in Peachtree City, Georgia. I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia where I became a lifelong bulldog fan-Go Dawgs! I attended the Medical College of Georgia where I developed an interest in global health and clinical research and had to the opportunity to work with families and children in Peru and Ireland. I relocated to the great city of Nashville for my pediatrics residency at Vanderbilt. While there, I was able to combine my passions for pediatric oncology, global health, and psychosocial support and traveled to Southeast Asia to work on health systems strengthening for children with cancer. I have a sweet puppy named Guinness and we are excited to trade Broadway for Beale Street and start exploring Memphis!
Kayla Foster, MD
I was born & raised in Texas. I grew up in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, prior to studying biomedical sciences at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas. There I cultivated my interest in medicine & after graduation continued my studies at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Lubbock, Texas, completing my clinical rotations in Amarillo, Texas. I just completed Medicine-Pediatrics residency training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, & am incredibly excited to be starting fellowship training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. I have a miniature dachshund named Zach who keeps me busy at home. I love to travel & take photos & whenever I can I try to spend my time with family & friends. My clinical interest is in improving the quality of life in our pediatric cancer survivors & I plan to pursue a clinical research career in survivorship.
Camille Keenan, MD
I grew up in Houston, Texas prior to venturing up to the University of Pittsburgh where I pursued an undergraduate degree in Bioengineering, with my sights already set on medical school. I moved back to Houston to attend McGovern Medial School (previously University of Texas Health Medical School) as well as obtain a Master’s in Public Health at the UT School of Public Health just down the street. I then moved to Dallas for a residency in Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, during which I solidified my interest in Pediatric Oncology. Now, I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to train as a clinical fellow at St. Jude.
Justin Kirkham, MD
I was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Utah, during which time I also served a two year mission for my church. After getting married, my wife and I moved to New England. There I obtained an MD and a PhD from the University of Connecticut, and we were blessed with two wonderful daughters, Mariah (9) and Avalon (4). We then relocated to Minnesota for pediatric residency training at Mayo Clinic, where our son, Lancaster (1), was born. Professional interests include gene therapy, global health, and rural practice improvement. Non-medical hobbies include family time, church, writing novels, hiking, and camping.
Mike McNeil, MD
I was born in Colorado but grew up in Texas. I went to school at Brigham Young University for college and took two years off to serve a mission for my church in the Patagonia in Argentina. After college I went to Duke for medical school followed by the University of Washington for pediatric residency. My research interests include pediatric palliative care and global health. Outside of medicine, I am a big sports fan and love playing basketball and football. I am also married and we have two very active boys. They are my world.
Ayobami Olanrewaju, MD
I was born and raised in West Africa. I grew up in your typical Nigerian family. My parents wanted me to become a doctor or an engineer. But something unique happened. I was already passionate about being a doctor! I completed my medical training at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ogun State, Nigeria. I fell in love with pediatric hematology oncology because of my dad, a pediatric hematologist oncologist, who had returned home to make a difference in his country. He grew frustrated with the disparities in clinical outcomes among children with hematological and oncological disorders. For example, there are an estimated 100,000 people living with sickle cell disease in the US with an average life expectancy of 42 years. In contrast, 100,000 babies are born every year in Nigeria with sickle cell anemia and an unacceptable number of these children die before their fifth birthday.
My passion led me to complete a master's degree in Tropical Pediatrics at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I later went on to study public health at Boston University and completed my pediatric residency training at Texas Tech in Amarillo, Texas. I am incredibly excited at the opportunity to learn from the experts in pediatric hematology and oncology at St Jude. My goals for fellowship are to improve my knowledge and understanding of pediatric blood disorders and cancers, to learn and implement standards of care to improve the quality of life and clinical outcomes, and to formulate critical research questions to help direct future improvements in the care and quality of life of these amazing children.
Matthew Rees, MD
I was born and raised near Salt Lake City, Utah. After spending a couple of years in the South of France, I completed an undergraduate degree in French Studies at Brigham Young University. My wife and I moved to Houston, where I attended Baylor College of Medicine, before heading north to the University of Michigan for pediatrics residency and chief residency. Along the way, we have added four kids and love exploring parks, hiking, and skiing. My interests include both benign and malignant hematology, quality improvement, and global systems of care. St. Jude stood out to me because of the strength of the clinical and research programs, combined with a uniquely collegial and mission-driven atmosphere. I am thrilled to be a part of the St. Jude community!
Marta Salek, MD
I am originally from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada - a city not too far from Toronto. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario in Biology and Comparative Literature and Culture. I then fulfilled a lifelong dream of living in Krakow (a beautiful and history city in southern Poland - it is my favourite place!), where I studied medicine. I completed my Pediatrics Residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School - Baystate. This was followed by a Pediatric Palliative Care fellowship at the University of Washington. I am so excited to start the next phase of my training in Hematology/Oncology at St. Jude! In addition to the outstanding caliber of the institution, I was drawn to the warmth of the people I met at St. Jude who were so clearly committed to their patients, their families, and colleagues.
Richa Sharma, MD
I moved from a small village named Sujanpur Tira in Himachel Pardesh, India to Indianapolis, Indiana, USA when I was 11 years of age. In addition to learning English and becoming accustomed to a new culture, I was exposed to the world of medicine and research as a high school student. My interest in hematology oncology was inspired by children that I worked with on the hematology/oncology and transplant patient wards as a college and medical student at Indiana University. This, in combination with research seminars highlighting the diverse challenges faced by cancer researchers in discovering targeted drug therapy, served as the catalyst to my pursuit of a career as a physician-scientist in pediatric hematology-oncology. I hope to critically evaluate challenging hematological and oncological disease processes through applications of basic science and clinical research in order to translate innovative and effective therapy to a most deserved population.
Ruth Wang'ondu, MD, PhD
I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. For most of my life in the US, I have lived in the Northeast. After obtaining my undergraduate degree at Wellesley College I moved to Connecticut where I completed medical school, graduate school, and finally a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency, all at Yale. My interests in basic science, internal medicine, pediatrics, oncology and global health have been motivated by the hope of extending the benefit of scientific and medical discoveries to low- and middle-income countries and, in patient-care, facilitating transition from childhood to adulthood, in spite of life-threatening illnesses. It is an honor to be part of the St. Jude community together with other dedicated individuals who have shared interests in translational research, patient care, and global oncology. As I embark on my journey in the South, I am very excited to enjoy theater, live music events, and everything Memphis has to offer!
Our Alumni: Where are they now?
Albany Medical Center
All Children’s Hospital
Baylor College of Medicine
Children’s Hospital of Alabama
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters
Children’s Hospital of Vanderbilt
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Cook Children’s Medical Center
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Essentia Health Cancer Center
Helen Devos Children’s Hospital
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Maine Children’s Cancer Program
Memorial Sloan Kettering
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
New York Medical College
Niswonger Children’s Hospital
Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital
Queen Mary Hospital
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Vincent Children’s Hospital
Scott and White Healthcare
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
University of North Carolina
University of Oklahoma
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine
University of Utah Primary Children’s Medical Center
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University