Meet the Fellows



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

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.

Cristyn Branstetter
Cristyn Branstetter

I grew up 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.

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.
Jamie Flerlage
Jamie Flerlage
I was born in Buffalo, NY, with the normal challenges that presents—(as a Bills and Sabres fan)—and grew up in upstate NY where my family still lives. I attended the Union College-Albany Medical College combined program and began my move south for residency at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD, and then to St. Jude in Memphis to start my hematology-oncology fellowship. I spent my first year working with the International Outreach Program at our partner site in Guatemala City, with a focus on palliative care and clinical research. I returned to Hopkins this past year for my year as a chief resident (which is a fifth year at Hopkins) and could not be more excited to come back to St. Jude as the opportunity for training, education, mentorship, research and work with the International Outreach Program is the second to none. When I am not working I enjoy spending time on planes to fly back and see my husband and playing ice hockey—which does exist in Mississippi!

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!

Seth Karol
Seth Karol

I am from Ohio, having completed my residency in pediatrics at University Hospitals of Cleveland Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. I came to St. Jude due to the variety of clinical exposures and research options available to me. After a fantastic first clinical year, I’ve been pursuing research in the Hematologic Malignancies program where I’m working on projects evaluating the germ-line genetic variations contributing to adverse outcomes due to chemotherapy. A particular area of focus is osteonecrosis in patients with ALL. Outside of work, I enjoy getting together with the other fellows and spending time with my wonderful wife and two children.
Spencer Mangum
Spencer Mangum
I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. I first completed my undergraduate at the University of Utah in biomedical engineering, and then went east for medical school to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. I returned to Utah to complete my pediatrics residency at Primary Children’s Hospital and am excited to now be at St. Jude for my next step in training. Along the way, I’ve been blessed with a family. I married my wife during my undergraduate years, had two children during medical school, and our third child most recently during residency. I love the outdoors (particularly skiing, hiking, and fly-fishing). My current professional interests involve experimental therapeutics in the hematologic malignancies, however, I’m looking forward to defining these interests further while at St. Jude.
Rosa Nguyen
Rosa Nguyen
I was born and raised in the high north of Germany, in a city called Hamburg, where I attended medical school before I moved to Baltimore, MD, for pediatric residency. My interest for pediatric oncology stems from caring for patients with tumor suppressor gene disorders. Quickly, I have come to cherish the opportunity to help these children and families and be part of their lives. Elizabeth Lawrence once wrote that “there is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again”. For children with cancer, I found this place to be St. Jude. I think St. Jude is the perfect place where excellent clinical care meets top-notch research, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to pursue my fellowship training here.
Allison Prinbow
Allison Prinbow
I grew up in Portland, OR, where I developed a love of the outdoors—hiking, camping and backpacking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I am passionate about global health and after receiving my BA in Spanish literature from Whitman College I spent a year working on a minority-outreach education program before going on to complete my MPH in international health at Oregon State University. I returned to Portland for medical school at OHSU where I solidified my love of caring for children and their families. Pediatrics residency brought me to Stanford University and furthered my drive to pursue a career engaged in global outreach work in pediatric oncology. I am excited to train at St. Jude in the exceptional environment of service, education, research and innovation with unique dedication to international outreach.
Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz
Most people call me Schwartz; I grew up in the once small, but now bustling city of Denham Springs, Louisiana. I attended Louisiana College in Pineville for my undergraduate education, majoring in biology. From there, I completed the MD/PhD program at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. My graduate training was in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology where the focus of my research was the mechanism of glucocorticoid-mediated apoptosis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. My home is full of girls: my wife (Mindy), and two daughters (Sydney and Lynden). My hobby is endurance sports, namely, triathlon. I truly enjoy the science of the sport, particularly, the biochemistry of endurance nutrition (…it’s okay, my wife thinks I am a nerd too). I consider myself immensely fortunate to have the opportunity to train at St. Jude. As a patient, undergraduate Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program student, and visiting medical student, I have experienced the unparalleled compassion and devotion that glows from all who strive to ensure that “no child should die in the dawn of life.” I am realizing a dream to be part of such a team at a place like St. Jude.
Jennifer Snaman
Jennifer Snaman
Hello! My name is Jennifer Snaman and I am excited to be in Memphis. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii,as one of four children into a large (and loud) Army family. We moved all around the country until my father retired outside of Washington, DC, while I was in high school. I met my wonderful husband Josh Currier while I was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University. After school, I moved to Atlanta for graduate school in population biology before returning to Virginia for medical school. We were excited to match for residency in the land of the Red Sox as loved our four years spent in Boston, MA. I finished residency at the Boston Combined Residency Program in 2011 and stayed on as a hospitalist in the Children’s Hospital Boston ICU for a year. My husband, my one year old son Max, and I moved to Tennessee in June 2012 (my third lifetime move to TN) and have enjoyed our past year in the Bluff City. I will be working as a clinical pediatric palliative and hospice care fellow for the next year before finishing my research and fellowship in hem-onc.

While not at the hospital, my husband and I enjoy chasing around our toddler son and exploring all that Memphis has to offer. On the weekend, you are likely to find us at the zoo, botanic gardens, or one of the many local festivals.

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.
Jessica Valdez
Jessica Valdez
Born in the tiny town of Espanola in northern New Mexico, working as a pediatrician started as a childhood dream. I told my second-grade teacher I wanted to be a doctor who cared for children. In undergraduate school at the University of New Mexico, while serving as a child-life volunteer with pediatric oncology patients, I realized I not only wanted to be a pediatrician, but I also wanted to specialize in hematology/oncology - and St. Jude was where I wanted to work. My path toward this wonderful facility started at UNM Medical School, followed by a pediatric residency at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Along the way I spent a year as a Howard Hughes Fellow conducting research on immunocompromised hosts in the pediatric oncology branch at the National Institutes of Health. I also spent several months as a Fogarty Scholar in Nigeria. Accompanying me to Memphis is my newlywed husband Tim and our little dog “Lilly Monster.” We are both very excited about starting our lives together in such a vibrant and exciting city.

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.

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.