Researcher Spotlight: Christine Ryan, MD
DANA-FARBER CANCER INSTITUTE
Kanti R. Rai, MD Clinical Scholar
Richter’s transformation (RT) represents a devastating progression of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL) into an aggressive B-cell lymphoma. Prognosis with RT is poor, with many patients surviving just 6 to 12 months after diagnosis. Dr. Ryan’s research aims to identify novel therapies to help improve outcomes for patients with RT. To this end, her LRF project aims to study the effects of a bispecific antibody, glofitamab, in patients with RT alone or in combination with other anti-lymphoma therapies. “Promising results have been shown with bispecific antibodies in several other types of lymphoma, but there has not yet been a dedicated study of glofitamab in RT,” she explains. “Completion of this project will lay the foundation for future clinical research studies of glofitamab and other novel immunotherapies in RT.”
Dr. Ryan is a Clinical Fellow in Hematology and Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. She is also a Kanti R. Rai, MD Clinical Scholar. Dr. Ryan’s interest in lymphoma research began during her time as a medical student at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where she had the opportunity to work alongside researchers studying the use of ibrutinib in patients with CLL who had relapsed after transplant. “Seeing how a novel targeted therapy transformed outcomes for patients who otherwise had very limited treatment options was incredibly inspiring,” she says. As she transitions to a faculty position at Dana-Farber this year, Dr. Ryan is excited to leverage her experiences studying CLL and RT to help patients with other forms of lymphoma, including mantle cell lymphoma.
Building on her experiences as an LRF Clinical Research Scholar, Dr. Ryan hopes to continue leading clinical trials and research that directly benefit patients. “My goal is for patients’ lives to not necessarily be defined by their cancer or the challenges of treatment,” she says. She is inspired to this goal not only by her experiences in the clinic but also her own personal connection with lymphoma through her grandmother’s diagnosis. “Having experienced firsthand the emotional rollercoaster of the cancer journey, I am motivated to be an oncologist who helps my patients through both their day-to-day struggles and the long-term journey of fighting lymphoma,” she says.