• Meet Our Fellows

    First-Year Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellows (2020-2023)

    Rahela Aziz-Bose, MD

    Rahela Aziz-Bose, MD

    Residency: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
    Research interests: Medical education and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities within cancer survivorship

    Rahela majored in molecular and cellular biology at Yale University, where she first developed her interest in working with adolescents through teaching in a community health education program in New Haven. She then taught biology for a year at a boarding school in rural England, followed by a clinical research year in a Queens emergency department. She attended University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. At UMass, she founded a health education program for adolescents in juvenile detention facilities. Throughout her med-peds combined residency at CHOP and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), she has strengthened her interest in health disparities through various clinical and research projects. She is also a member of the medical education track.

    Yoav Binenbaum, MD, PhD

    Yoav Binenbaum, MD, PhD

    Residency: Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel
    Research interests: Myeloid cells in the cancer microenvironment, chemotherapy resistance, and bone sarcomas

    Yoav received his MD at Tel Aviv University School of Medicine. He completed his PhD in the Technion Institute of Technology under the mentorship of Professor Ziv Gil, where he characterized a mechanism of macrophage-induced chemotherapy resistance involving transfer of miRNAs between cells. In collaboration with the physics department in the Technion, he has developed a device for solid tumor treatment using Cold Atmospheric Plasma, a technology that was transferred for further development in the industry. He also collaborated with the computer science department to develop an artificial-intelligence system for prediction of breast cancer molecular biomarkers from H&E-stained slides. His work led to several publications in journals including Cancer Research, Jama Network Open, and PLOS One. Yoav completed his residency in pediatrics at Tel Aviv Medical Center in the physician-scientist track, where he focused his attention to the role of neutrophil NETosis in the cancer microenvironment of bone sarcomas. Yoav is also a cave explorer and recently introduced a new prophylaxis protocol for tick-borne relapsing fever.

    Lev Gorfinkel, MD

    Lev Gorfinkel, MD

    Residency: Yale New Haven Hospital
    Research interests: Biology and treatment of inherited bone marrow failure syndromes

    Lev received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology at Brandeis University and his medical degree at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In medical school, he was involved in medical education and helped develop a supplementary histopathology curriculum of interactive modules to improve clinical-pathologic correlations. He continued his involvement in medical education as a pediatric resident at Yale New Haven Hospital, where he helped create a formal bedside pediatric physical exam teaching curriculum for medical students during their pediatric clerkship. During residency, Lev worked on deriving a clinical decision model for obtaining peripheral blood cultures in febrile pediatric oncology patients presenting to the emergency department. This work has evolved into a quality improvement project developing a fever and neutropenia clinical pathway for Yale New Haven Hospital. He is interested in bone marrow transplant and presented a poster at the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) Conference on a fludarabine-based reduced intensity conditioning regimen with in-vivo T-cell depletion in patients with Fanconi anemia.

    Laura Madanat-Harjuoja, MD, PhD

    Laura Madanat-Harjuoja, MD, PhD

    Residency: New Children’s Hospital in Helsinki, Finland
    Research interests: Genomics of pediatric solid tumors and targeted therapies

    Laura received her MD and PhD at the University of Turku in Finland. She completed her residency at the New Children’s Hospital in Helsinki. Her PhD project focused on late effects of childhood. She is an investigator on several ongoing Nordic studies including the Adult Life After Childhood Cancer (ALiCCS) study, an internordic childhood cancer cohort study established to explore somatic late effects and socioeconomic consequences of childhood cancer. More recently, she set up a familial cancer database using the Finnish population-based registries to explore cancer predisposition in childhood cancer. Laura’s ongoing work with Lisa R. Diller, MD, and Brian D. Crompton, MD, focuses on cancer predisposition with projects connected to newborn screening and development of circulating tumor DNA assays as a surveillance tool for cancer predisposition gene carriers.

    Miki Nishitani, MD

    Miki Nishitani, MD

    Residency: Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago
    Research interests: Outcomes in stem cell therapy and medical education

    Miki received her undergraduate degree in biology with high distinction at Duke University and later received her medical degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to medical school, she worked at the NIH Clinical Center, where she helped to broaden the understanding of congenital adrenal hyperplasia through its largest ever national history study under the mentorship of Dr. Deborah Merke. She then completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of Chicago's Comer Children’s Hospital, where she developed a strong interest in medical education through the Medical Education Research, Innovation, Teaching, and Scholarship (MERITS) Program. Her research interests also focused on transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy in those with high risk neuroblastoma who underwent autologous stem cell transplant. Afterwards, she completed her chief residency during which she dedicated time to establishing a primary care curriculum and improving resident scholarship.

    Second-Year Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellows (2019-2022)

    Andrew Groves

    Andrew Groves, MD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research interests: Genomics of pediatric brain tumors

    Andrew majored in the Integrated Science Program, chemistry, and mathematics at Northwestern University, and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. As an undergraduate he worked with Richard Silverman, synthesizing novel GABA pathway inhibitors as potential anti-epileptics. He then went on to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to complete his MD training, where he worked with Robert Hayashi on a clinical research project analyzing the medical and psychosocial needs of a large pediatric cancer predisposition clinic. Andrew is a Boston Combined Residency Program resident who is working with Mariella Filbin MD, PhD, on projects involving next-generation sequencing of pediatric brain tumors, as well as drug screening in diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) cell lines.

    Jonathan Paolino

    Jonathan Paolino, MD

    Residency: Massachusetts General Hospital
    Research interests: Applying clinical research to promising new therapies and management strategies for children with hematologic malignancies

    Jonathan completed his undergraduate work in biology at the College of the Holy Cross and later earned his MD at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Between his undergraduate and medical education he spent several years in the Army as a medic with the airborne infantry and later worked in biotech on a team designing and managing clinical trials, including several large phase III multinational clinical studies, used to support currently approved therapies in gastroenterology and oncology. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and stayed for an additional chief year prior to fellowship. He is an investigator on several ongoing studies at MGH, including a randomized controlled trial studying the effects of virtual reality on opioid reduction for acute pain management and evaluation of a clinical pathway guiding outpatient management strategies for patients with febrile neutropenia with low risk characteristics.

    Maria Trissal

    Maria Trissal, MD, PhD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research interests: Neuro-oncology with a specific focus on high-grade gliomas, non-coding RNA biology, epigenetics, and next generation genomic technologies

    Maria Trissal received her MD and PhD at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. She completed a PhD in immunology under the mentorship of Daniel Link, with whom she established a new library generation and genomic analysis pipeline for the identification of small non coding RNAs. Her work on establishing the role of small RNAs in leukemogenesis and hematopoietic stem cells led to several publications in journals including Blood, Experimental Hematology, and Cancer Research. She competed her residency in pediatrics in the Boston Combined Residency Program and participated in the Integrated Research Pathway (IRP), where she discovered a new career focus in neuro-oncology. Through the IRP, she worked under the mentorship of Bradley Bernstein at Massachusetts General Hospital and Mariella Filbin MD, PhD, at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to utilize high throughput genomic techniques to identify cell regulatory circuits that may be targeted in the treatment of adult and pediatric high grade gliomas.

    Puja Umaretiya

    Puja Umaretiya, MD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research Interests: Disparities and outcomes research in pediatric oncology and palliative care

    Puja majored in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona and graduated summa cum laude. She then attended Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, where she was involved in a variety of clinical research projects. Her publications span a wide range of topics, from the effects of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density in children in Nigeria to the relationship of asthma to breakthrough varicella infections. During her time in the Boston Combined Residency Program in pediatrics, Puja’s research interests focused on the intersection of clinical oncology and palliative care. She was awarded a Lovejoy grant to create a formalized curriculum for pediatric residents, with the aim of teaching fundamental clinical and communication skills to increase resident comfort in the care of patients at the end-of-life. Puja’s ongoing work with Kira Bona, MD, MPH, and Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH, seeks to better understand disparities in the end-of-life care received by pediatric oncology patients across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. After residency, she completed the Harvard Interprofessional Palliative Care fellowship prior to starting her oncology training.

    Franziska Wachter

    Franziska Wachter, MD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research Interests: Structural and chemical biology and drug development

    Franziska (Franzi) was raised in a small village in Northern Bavaria. She obtained her MD from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, and conducted her doctoral research at the German National Center for Environment and Health, where she studied mechanisms of chemoresistance including the influence of p53 reactivation responses to the extrinsic apoptotic pathway agonist, TRAIL. Franzi then completed her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, which focuses on interrogating BCL-2 family protein biology through the lens of structural and chemical biology. Her particular areas of study comprised investigating inhibitory mechanisms of the pro-apoptotic effector protein BAX as well as identifying and characterizing BAX activators identified in a NMR-based fragment screen. She also validated the on-target mechanism of a p53 reactivating stapled peptide drug that is currently in clinical trials. Her research to date has led to 13 publications including four first-author papers. She was previously a Boston Combined Residency Program resident in the Integrated Research Pathway and worked with Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, on characterizing resistance mechanism of chromatin modulating therapeutics. Franzi spent several months in Ethiopia and established objective structured exams for medical students. She trained midwives in Sierra Leone in the use of a low cost device to reduce maternal deaths caused by hemorrhage.

    Nina Weichert-Leahey

    Nina Weichert-Leahey, MD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research Interests: Epigenetics in solid tumors

    Nina obtained her MD from Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany, and completed her medical thesis summa cum laude. After three years of pediatric residency training at the university hospital, Charité, in Berlin, Germany, Nina was awarded a Young Investigator Award by the German Cancer Aid to pursue an early postdoctoral fellowship in the field of neuroblastoma oncogenesis. She joined the laboratory of A. Thomas Look at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she studied the epigenetic landscape of neuroblastoma. She participated in multiple research studies which were published in Nature, Nature Genetics, Cancer Discovery, and Cancer Cell. Nina also became an expert in multiple genome-editing techniques which she has successfully used in a neuroblastoma model in zebrafish to study neuroblastoma initiation and oncogenesis. In 2017, Nina became a resident in the Boston Combined Residency Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center. She is now working toward a career as a physician-scientist.

    Third-Year Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellows (2018-2021)

    Wallace Bourgeois

    Wallace Bourgeois, MD

    Chief Fellow
    Residency: Columbia University Medical Center / New York-Presbyterian Hospital
    Research interests: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

    Wallace graduated from University of Chicago, earning a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. He then went on to New York University School of Medicine, where he investigated the mechanisms of drug resistance in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia and graduated with honors. Wallace then completed his pediatrics residency at Columbia University Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where outside of his clinical training, he pursued further research in pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant. Following his pediatrics residency, he was selected to serve an additional year as chief resident. In this role he was involved in managing the pediatric residency program and educating residents. During his time in fellowship, Wallace’s clinical work has entailed the care of pediatric patients with hematologic diseases, oncologic diseases, and conditions requiring stem cell (bone marrow) transplantation.

    Kevin Campbell

    Kevin Campbell, MD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research interests: Clinical oncology

    Kevin earned his bachelor’s degree in science in human biology from University of Kansas, where he also received his medical degree. As a medical student, Kevin analyzed daily fluctuations of lung function in multiple pediatric cystic fibrosis patients via home spirometry readings taken over the course of one year. As a Medical Student Scholar at Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kevin researched the mechanism of infiltration of human cytomegalovirus within the placenta during the first trimester. During his time in the Boston Combined Residency Program (BCRP), Kevin used recursive partitioning to identify associations between MYCN copy number and clinical features in patients with high-risk neuroblastoma to improve accuracy of risk stratification. He also retrospectively analyzed clinical and biological factors to determine markers of response and toxicity to mIBG therapy in high risk neuroblastoma patients. Kevin has an impressive background in leadership roles throughout his education and career. He was a Representative in the BCRP, as well as a Clinical Investigation Academy Leader from 2016-2017. Kevin was a Student Representative and Treasurer of the Medical Student Assembly while at the University of Kansas Medical School.

    Riaz Gillani

    Riaz Gillani, MD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research interests: Solid tumor genomics

    Riaz graduated from Brown University, earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering before earning his medical degree from John Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the Park Laboratory at John Hopkins, Riaz contributed to the development of screening protocol for ESR1 mutations in patients with ER-positive metastatic breast cancer. He also worked with colleagues on a digital PCR-based assay for detection of ESR1 mutations in plasma samples. In the Stegmaier Laboratory during his time In the Boston Combined Residency Program, Riaz worked with CRISPR-Cas9 genomic screen data to analyze gene dependencies in neuroblastoma with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets. Riaz contributed to two peer-reviewed journal activities in Clinical Cancer Research and International Journal of Nanomedicine in 2016 and 2010, respectively. In 2016, Riaz was selected as the resident recipient of the Fred Lovejoy Housestaff Research and Education Grant, which funded neuroblastoma research. For his commitment to community service, Riaz was awarded the Yat K. Tow Prize for Public Service while at Brown University.

    Emily Heikamp, MD, PhD

    Emily Heikamp, MD, PhD

    Residency: Texas Children's Hospital / Baylor College of Medicine
    Research Interests: Epigenetics, hematopoiesis, and oncogenic fusion protein biology in pediatric cancer

    Emily Heikamp received her MD and PhD from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She also holds an MSc from Oxford University in the United Kingdom where she studied as a Marshall Scholar. Emily trained in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s Hospital. As a pediatrics intern, she was elected to The Journal of Pediatrics editorial board, a position which she continues to hold. Emily completed her residency and first year of pediatric hematology-oncology clinical training at Texas Children’s. As a resident at Baylor, she was a member of the Pediatrician-Scientist Training and Development Program, where she spent time in the laboratory studying hematopoiesis, epigenetics, and leukemia with Margaret Goodell. Emily has long-standing interests in hematopoiesis, immunology, and cancer. As an MD-PhD student in the immunology program at Hopkins, she worked with Jonathan Powell to understand how the mTOR pathway regulates T-cell differentiation. Her PhD work led to several publications, including a first-author paper in Nature Immunology and a provisional US patent. As a student at Oxford, she worked with Adrian Harris to study the tole of the Notch signaling pathway in tumor angiogenesis. She also studied B cell development with Garnett Kelsoe as an undergraduate and Howard Hughes Scholar at Duke University. With her enduring passion for basic science and commitment to improving outcomes in high-risk pediatric cancer, Emily was eager to start forging her career as a pediatric oncologist physician-scientist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s. The overarching goal of her career is to become an independent investigator and the leader of her own laboratory, with the goal of translating research discoveries to transform clinical practice in pediatric oncology.

    Kirsty Hillier

    Kirsty Hillier, MD

    Chief Fellow
    Residency: Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s Hospital
    Research Interests: Translational basic science in solid tumors

    Kirsty earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in allied medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where she also earned her medical degree. Kirsty was selected to be chief resident at Baylor College of Medicine / Texas Children’s Hospital, where she was a member of a number of committees including the Interviewing Subcommittee, House Staff Selection Committee, Pediatric Residency Curriculum & Evaluation Committee, and the Laboratory Medicine Committee. Kirsty was selected to be the supervising resident for pediatric interns during their very first inpatient rotation. She was a co-author for a publication in Pediatrics in 2017 and presented at the American Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology in 2018. Her presentation was titled, “Factors Impacting Time to Engraftment in Patients with High Risk Neuroblastoma Following Stem Cell Transplant.” Kirsty’s clinical work during her time in fellowship has entailed working with patients with hematologic and oncologic disorders in both the inpatient and outpatient clinical settings.

    Jessica Tsai

    Jessica Tsai, MD, PhD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research Interests: Cell lineage related to solid tumors

    Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Stanford University where she also earned her PhD and medical degree. Jessica was extremely active in the Stanford community. She was a member of the Stanford School of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program Admission Committee and co-chair of the Stanford Graduate Student Council. She was the recipient of the Stanford University Department of Biology Stephen Fox Award, which is awarded to the top undergraduate in the Department of Biology. During her time in the Boston Combined Residency Program, Jessica performed qualitative research understanding attitudes toward implicit bias and implicit bias training amongst pediatric residency program directors. She prepared and submitted a survey to the Association of Pediatric Program Directors and obtained an Institutional Review Board exempt approval from Boston Medical Center / Boston University School of Medicine. Prior to beginning her fellowship, Jessica was a postdoctoral fellow in the Walsh Laboratory as part of the Integrated Research Pathway. Jessica has contributed to a number of peer reviews journals including JAMA Pediatrics, Science, Nature Biotechnology, and PLoS Biology.

    Lara Wahlster

    Lara Wahlster, MD, PhD

    Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program
    Research Interests: Hematology, genetic blood disorders, and bone marrow transplantation

    Lara graduated summa cum laude from Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg Germany in 2013. Her doctoral thesis examined intracellular protein folding and degradation mechanisms in neuronal models. After completing her pediatrics internship at Heidelberg University Children’s Hospital, Lara was awarded a Young Investigator Award by the Heidelberg Faculty of Science, which allowed her to pursue an early postdoctoral fellowship in stem cell research. As a postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, she worked with George Daley, MD, PhD, using patient derived induced pluripotent stem cells for cellular engineering and modeling rare congenital blood disorders. Lara joined the Boston Combined Residency Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center in 2016, completing the accelerated research pathway as one of the physician scientist tracks within the program. She is interested in hematology, genetic blood disorders, and bone marrow transplantation. She is working with her mentor, Vijay Sankaran, MD, PhD, using genomic tools to study hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cell biology.

    Past Fellows

  • Contact Us

    For questions regarding our fellowship program, please contact Fellowship Program Coordinator Sarah Johnson at 617-919-4242 or email sarah.johnson@childrens.harvard.edu.
  • A Long Legacy of Research and Treatment

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's History

    More than 70 years ago, Dr. Sidney Farber refused to accept that childhood cancer was untreatable. His determination led to the development of chemotherapy and the first remissions of childhood leukemia.

  • Our Fellowship Programs

    The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's is one of the most recognized in the nation with a long history of training leaders in the field.