During treatment up to 33% of children with cancer develop critical illness and need care from an intensive care unit. Critically ill children have some of the highest mortality rates, and this is especially true for those residing in low-to-middle income countries where hospitals have limited critical care resources. However, supportive care interventions can improve outcomes in these high-risk patients and reduce global disparities in outcomes. My work addresses the management of children with cancer who develop critical illness. Specifically, I focus on how to implement and sustain interventions to improve quality of care for hospitalized children with cancer globally. 

Science Team

Agulnik research summary

Intervention Implementation and Sustainability

It takes approximately 17 years to move effective innovations from discovery to routine use in the clinical setting. My research as a pediatric intensivist and implementation scientist aims to shorten this timeframe and support global implementation of interventions that improve outcomes for critically ill children with cancer.

I study an evidence-based intervention–Pediatric Early Warning System (PEWS) –which aids in early identification of critical illness in children with cancer and reduces mortality associated with cancer treatment. While PEWS systems are effective, they are underutilized in resource-limited settings. My work studies how to implement, scale up and sustain the use of PEWS and other evidence-based interventions in resource-limited settings that provide childhood cancer care.

Interdisciplinary Communication

Children with critical illness are often managed by teams of medical professionals, and effective communication across these teams is crucial. Studies identifying strategies to improve communication, however, have been limited by an inability to effectively measure communication quality.

Our team has recently developed a quantitative tool to assess the quality of interdisciplinary communication among centers providing childhood cancer care globally. My current research focuses on understanding common communication challenges, on a global scale, and developing interventions to overcome these obstacles. 

Photo of two women in hallway

Pediatric Onco-Critical Care

I am the Director of the St. Jude Global Critical Care Program, which aims to improve the care of children with cancer who develop critical illness. Our program provides ongoing professional education in the field of Pediatric Onco-Critical Care, through the Global Academy and the Pediatric Onco-Critical Care Symposium (POCCS). I am also invested in research related to PROACTIVE, a tool used to assess the quality and capacity for pediatric onco-critical care at centers providing childhood cancer care globally.

Euro Regional Program and SAFER Ukraine

In addition to my research and clinical work, I am also the Director of the Euro-Regional program of St. Jude Global and the Director of the SAFER Ukraine effort, which facilitates the safe evacuation of children with cancers and catastrophic diseases to reestablish medical care abroad. This effort provides a proof-of-concept for global health that can be leveraged in future international emergency responses.

Selected Publications

About Asya Agulnik

Dr. Agulnik is a pediatric intensivist who completed her pediatrics residency at the Boston Combined Residency Program, followed by fellowship in pediatric critical care at Boston Children’s Hospital. She received her medical degree from Stanford School of Medicine and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California at Berkeley. As an Associate Member of the St. Jude Faculty, Director of the Global Critical Care Program and Director of the Euro Regional Program of St. Jude Global, Dr. Agulnik is interested in implementing and sustaining interventions to improve outcomes for children with cancer who develop critical illness. 

Contact us

Asya Agulnik, MD, MPH
Associate Member, St. Jude Faculty
Department of Global Pediatric Medicine
MS 721, O4001

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA
(901) 595-0367 asya.agulnik@stjude.org

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262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA