March 2019: Student/Trainee Member Profile

Published on 3/1/2019 12:00:00 AM

Jennifer A. Belsky, MD, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellow, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH

As an undergraduate, Dr. Belsky studied premed at the University of Toledo and graduated with a BS in biology and a minor in chemistry. She trained in an undergraduate lab, and when she graduated her honors thesis contributed to bench research focusing on the solitary effects of SSAT2 on NFkB. From there she trained at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. There, she worked with Dr. Cindy Bachurski, and her lab focused on pulmonary aspects of neonatology with a primary focus on TTF1 and synergistic action with NF1B2 to cause delayed epithelial maturation in lung tissue using a knockout mouse model. She completed her master's degree at Wright State University where she worked with Dr. Robert Putnam in the lab on Effect of Hypoxia on Intracellular pH in Isolated Neonatal Rat Cells. She completed her medical training at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OUHCOM) where she worked on multiple clinical projects focusing on type 1 diabetes. She completed her pediatric residency training at Nationwide Children's Hospital where she worked on several clinical projects focusing on infections in oncology and bone marrow transplants. She is currently in her second year of a pediatric oncology/hematology/BMT fellowship at Nationwide Children's Hospital where she is conducting clinical research on chemotherapy side effects and patient provider views on osteopathic medicine in the oncology field. 

Throughout her training, Dr. Belsky has had fantastic mentors. She specifically points to Dr. Jay Shubrook at OUHCOM who sparked her research in clinical research. She also credits Dr. Terri Guinipero with providing invaluable mentorship throughout her career and for helping her grow immensely as a clinical oncologist. She also thanks Dr. Susan Vear and Dr. Melissa Rose with whom she is still working. She is grateful to Dr. Vear who “continues to teach [her] how to think innovatively and introduced a world of pharmacogenomics into [her] career.” Dr. Rose is currently Dr. Belsky's principle investigator on her clinical research and “has provided unwavering guidance for [her] novel fellowship project and continues to help [her] grow as a clinical researcher and hematologist.”

The propensity to fill gaps in knowledge that have been there for hundreds of years drew Dr. Belsky to the field of clinical pharmacology and translational medicine. She believes that new technology and a paradigm shift to focusing on personalized medicine will enable clinical pharmacology and translational medicine to continue to move into the forefront of oncology. She goes on to elaborate that her particular area of interest is chemotherapy side effects. She explains: “it has always pulled at my heartstrings that we are taking these children to the edge of a cliff and they cling to life by a thread.” The horrific side effects associated with the medications doctors are forced to give their patients stand out to Dr. Belsky. She feels that “we have focused so much on a cure and treatments, but somewhere along the way we forgot what the patient is actively going through on their way to these novel cures and new therapies.” Her career goals are to better understand patients and caregivers and to provide expectations during chemotherapy and how they treat the side effects both in the hospital and at home. Armed with this knowledge, she hopes to prove her (and her colleagues’) hypothesis that osteopathic medicine can provide an adjunctive helpful therapy to patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. If they can prove this hypothesis, Dr. Belsky's long‐term career goal will be to open a clinic for both hematology and oncology patients who are suffering from chemotherapy side effects.

Dr. Belsky decided to join ASCPT after caring for a patient who suffered significant cardiac insufficiency due to a novel mutation associated with her chemotherapy. Her mentor, Dr. Vear, and she presented this case at an ASCPT Annual Meeting, which helped them achieve their goal of discussing the patient's case with experts from across the world. She viewed her experience as a great venue to present research and get help with the roadblocks they were encountering. As a member she hopes to gain continued access to educational opportunities and continue to foster her knowledge of pharmacogenomics medicine. She has no doubt that as she continues with a career focus in pediatric oncology that her clinical research will remain intertwined with translational medicine.

Dr. Belsky has been a member of ASCPT since 2017. In 2018 she received an ASCPT Student/Trainee Travel Grant to attend the ASCPT Annual Meeting and present a poster.

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