Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program

Meet the Fellows

 
     

    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.

    Chief Fellow

    • Kari Bjornard, MD

      Kari Bjornard, MD

      Bjornard

      After spending most of my childhood growing up in Northfield, Minnesota, I attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. After college, I returned to the Twin Cities to work as a research assistant for the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology department. After that year, I again headed east to attend medical school at New York Medical College in Valhalla.

      While there, I developed an interest in public health and also pursued a Master of Public Health (MPH) in epidemiology. My studies in epidemiology led me to take a year off between my third and fourth years to participate in “The CDC Experience,” a fellowship in applied epidemiology, where I conducted research on racial and congenital trends in congenital heart defects at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. After returning to finish my MD and MPH degrees, I attended residency at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.

      After residency, I stayed in the Baltimore area to work as an attending physician for one year in a combined pediatric emergency/inpatient unit at a nearby community hospital. When not at work, I enjoy running and both playing and watching other sports, as well as spending time with my dog, Chalupa, and significant other, Artour.

    Current Fellows

    • Maggie Besler, MD

      Maggie Besler, MD

      Besler

      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

      Senthil Bhoopalan, MBBS

      Bhoopalan

      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.

    • Lindsay Blazin, MD

      Lindsay Blazin, MD

      Blazin

      I grew up in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, then moved to the big city to earn my undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. I've always wanted to be a pediatrician, and after volunteering on the oncology floor at Children's Hospital, I knew I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I completed my pediatrics residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and had every intention of sticking around for fellowship. (You may have gathered, correctly, that I really like Pittsburgh.) But after one day at St. Jude, I knew this was the place for me.

      I love St. Jude for the incredible clinical and research experiences available here, but more importantly for their obvious commitment to making life a little easier for kids with cancer and their families. I am looking forward to joining this amazing team and hope to spend some of my time here studying the psychosocial impact of cancer diagnoses on children and their families. And, of course, on becoming an excellent clinical oncologist.

    • Kenneth Caldwell, MD

      Kenneth Caldwell, MD

      Caldwell

      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.

    • David Cervi, DO, PhD

      David Cervi, DO, PhD

      Cervi

      I was born and raised in a lovely, quaint town in rural Ontario. After completing my undergraduate training and obtaining a Master's Degree at the University of Windsor, I moved to the big city where I obtained my doctoral degree in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Toronto. While there, I was inspired by many fine scientists and oncologists, adult and pediatric alike, which encouraged me to pursue medical education. After my post-doctoral training at Children's Hospital of Boston in the field of tumor angiogenesis and platelet biology, I entered Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine and obtained my medical degree and subsequently completed my residency training at Children's Hospital of Michigan. Education and training have occupied the better part of my life, although I still try to find some time to spend with family and friends and if possible attend an opera or the symphony. It is truly a privilege to continue my training in pediatric hematology/oncology at an institution as great as St. Jude. I first became aware of the hospital as a teenager (many, many years ago). I hope to be able to continue applying my research knowledge to better understand the onset and progression of various tumors with the goal of optimizing treatment modalities for children with refractory disease.

    • Stephanie Dixon, MD

      Stephanie Dixon, MD

      Dixon

      I’m originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan and stayed in-state to complete both college and medical school at the University of Michigan, Go Blue! During this time I was able to become involved with a variety of research and volunteer opportunities after being a camp counselor at both pediatric oncology and hemophilia camps. I became interested in needs surrounding transition, late effects and survivorship in medical school which led me to my residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in Cincinnati. I am excited to train at St. Jude due to its reputation for excellent clinical care, opportunities in survivorship research and training, and the felling of an energetic community.

      My husband, Griffin, works for Medtronic and enjoys golf and brewing beer. When not at work, we enjoy traveling, spending time with our dog (Ruby), college football, running and pretty much any other outdoor sports or activities! We are looking forward to moving to the South and exploring Memphis!

    • Rebecca Epperly, MD

      Rebecca Epperly, MD

      Epperly

      I grew up in the Quad Cities area of western Illinois, a few hours north along the Mississippi River. I went to the University of Iowa for undergraduate and medical school, where I studied bassoon performance in addition to medicine. Not only did I develop a passion for Hawkeye sports, but also found an incredible bond with our Pediatric Oncology patients and families through the Dance Marathon program. Our next adventure led my husband Ren and I to Pittsburgh, where I completed my pediatrics residency training. We have loved our time in the city of bridges and sports, which is also the hometown to our son Elijah. When not at work I enjoy yoga, Crossfit, and playing outside with my boys.

      St. Jude stands out for it's amazing clinical and research opportunities, but even more because of the shared sense of mission and commitment to families battling pediatric cancer. We are so excited that our journey has led us south to Memphis and I can't wait to join the St. Jude team!

    • Lisa Force, MD

      Lisa Force, MD

      Force

      I grew up just outside of Portland, Oregon, where my appreciation for family, exploring the outdoors, delicious coffee and vegetarian food began. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon and my medical training at Boston University School of Medicine. During my twenties I spent time in Belize, Peru, Ethiopia and Kenya, experiences that shaped my desire to improve child healthcare in international settings and sparked an interest in pediatric oncology. I completed my residency in pediatrics at the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital and following residency worked for a year in Botswana as part of Baylor’s Global Health Corps providing clinical care to children with cancer, blood disorders and HIV.

      My hope is to focus my career on improving pediatric oncology care in resource-­‐limited settings, and I’m excited to join St. Jude, where there is a collective recognition of the importance of improving pediatric hematology-­‐oncology care globally and an inspiring passion for this work. On my interview day I felt drawn to becoming a part of the St. Jude team, where there seemed to be a shared focus on  providing excellent and compassionate patient-­‐centered care and a genuine warmth in staff interactions. I’m looking forward to living in the South and exploring the Memphis music, art, hiking and food scenes!

    • Kayla Foster, MD

      Kayla Foster, MD

      Foster

      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.

    • Jessica Gartrell, MD

      Jessica Gartrell, MD

      Gartrell

      I grew up in a small town just outside Kansas City and then moved to Nebraska to complete my undergraduate and medical school training. I then decided it was time to move down to Memphis to complete my pediatric residency, where I was fortunate enough to witness the amazing things done at St. Jude first hand. I have two adorable boys and a wonderful husband. We could not be more excited to stay in Memphis where I feel that the training is unsurpassed.

    • Dylan Graetz, MD

      Dylan Graetz, MD

      Graetz

      I grew up in Milford, Connecticut and am a true New Englander at heart. I completed my undergraduate degree at Middlebury College in Vermont where I majored in English Literature and spent most of my time hiking/ running/ biking/ snowboarding/ playing in the gorgeous Green Mountains. After college I lived in San Francisco for a year working on a political campaign and for an LGBT clinic. I returned to the great state of Connecticut for medical school at UConn and stayed an extra year to complete my MPH. Since then, I have been in Philadelphia - soaking in city life and great food while trying to avoid the sports fans. Somewhere along the way I managed to live on 5 continents and hike Kilimanjaro! I am passionate about working globally in under-served settings and cannot wait to join St. Jude and continue this pursuit.

    • Joshua Hess, MD

      Joshua Hess, MD

      Hess

      I can remember wanting to be a doctor as far back as elementary school. I was born and raised in Charleston, WV and after high school I attended WV State University and met my wife the first week of classes. My plans to carry on through medical school changed when I was hired into a research chemist internship with Bayer CropScience. I completed degrees in Biology and Chemistry and continued my career in the chemical industry for several years but frequently felt something missing.

      It wasn't until my wife and I were expecting our first child that I began to reconsider a career in medicine. Shortly before our daughter was born I began studying and was accepted to medical school later that year. While returning to school was no easy task (now with two children), I soon felt I was in the right place. It was in my fourth year of medical school that I spent a month in the pediatric oncology clinic and knew I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I am both humbled and excited by the opportunity to further pursue my education and research at St. Jude.

      My time outside of work is spent with my wife, Alicia, and children, Anessa and Abram.

    • Harry “Adrian” Lesmana, MD

      Harry “Adrian” Lesmana, MD

      Lesmana

      I embody the typical characteristic of a Pisces man; powerfully emotional, strongly intuitive, deeply sensitive and a long life dreamer. I was born, raised and received my early education in a small city in Indonesia. After completing high school, I moved to a much bigger city, Jakarta, where I received my medical training at University of Indonesia. Not satisfied with what I could accomplish in my home country, I decided to move to US to pursue further clinical training. I completed a combined pediatrics and medical genetics residency training at Cincinnati Children's Hospital where I found my true passion for hematology genetics. I am so privileged to be part of St. Jude Children's big family where people with diverse background and interest have unified intention to help children afflicted with cancer and other blood related disorders. Personally, I am hoping to bridge the gap between medical genetics and hematology/ oncology. My clinical interest is mainly in inherited anemias, bone marrow failure syndromes and pediatrics cancer predisposition syndrome. When I am not at work, I spend majority of my time with my two dogs, Albert and Einstein, either in dog parks, hiking trails or just at home binge watching Netflix TV series. I am also a movie buff and love going to see broadway shows, plays and other performing arts. I can't wait to explore what Memphis could offer!

    • Jonathan Miller, MD, PhD

      Jonathan Miller, MD, PhD

      Miller

      Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, I grew up an avid sports fan (Go Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins!) and later developed my love of science and research. I moved to Washington DC after college to work full time in an NIH lab where I cemented my interest in medicine and scientific research. I stayed in the Nation's capital for a total of 8 years to complete medical training at Georgetown and found the love of my life, Miranda, before heading to California to enjoy the sun, nature, and life at Stanford. There I learned to become a pediatrician, in part because of my residency and in part because I became a father to my son, Abraham. I have long been interested in the complexity and acuity of pediatric cancer as well as the opportunity to enter the vulnerable, sacred space of caring for a family with a child battling cancer. I am so grateful and can think of no better place than St. Jude to complete my training and further contribute to advancing therapy and improving outcomes. Our family is also looking forward to the Southern hospitality, Memphis BBQ, and owning a home for the first time!

    • Anand Patel, MD

      Anand Patel, MD

      Patel

      I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I attended Duke University for my undergraduate training in Biomedical Engineering. Then, I travelled to the upper Midwest to complete an MD/PhD at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. My research training was in molecular pharmacology, and focused on the mechanism of PARP inhibition on cell killing in ovarian cancer. After 9 years in the frigid north, I moved to St. Louis to complete a pediatric residency at St. Louis Children's Hospital. When I'm not working, I'm usually watching a college basketball game (go Blue Devils!) or catching a live music show.

      I've spent most of my adult life working in one lab or the other with the aim of identifying new and safer ways to treat cancer. I chose to train at St. Jude because of the collective sense of mission I felt when I visited there, and the belief that we can do better in treating young patients afflicted with cancer.

    • Richa Sharma, MD

      Richa Sharma, MD

      Sharma

      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.

    • Michael Terao, MD

      Michael Terao, MD

      Terao

      I'm originally from the Washington DC area and a huge Washington Nationals fan. I attended Allegheny College (Meadville, PA) where I majored in English before starting at Eastern Virginia Medical School (Norfolk, VA). After medical school I completed my pediatric residency at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland (Oakland, CA) where I completed research on the use of concept mapping in undergraduate medical education. After residency, I spent one year as chief resident at the Morehouse School of Medicine Pediatric Residency (Atlanta, GA) prior to starting at St. Jude.

      I'm mainly interested in survivorship and adolescent/young adult oncology research.

    Our Alumni: Where are they now?

     

    Albany Medical Center
    All Children’s Hospital
    Amgen
    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
    Cleveland Clinic
    Cook Children’s Medical Center
    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    Duke University
    Emory University
    Essentia Health Cancer Center
    Genentech
    Helen Devos Children’s Hospital
    Johns Hopkins Hospital
    Mahidol University

    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
    Stanford University
    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