Research Overview

Dr. Silverman's major research focus is in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He is protocol principal investigator for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) ALL Consortium, which has been conducting clinical trials in childhood ALL for over 30 years. The DFCI ALL Consortium consists of several institutions in the United States and Canada who collaborate on treatment protocols for children ALL, with the goal of improving survival while minimizing toxicity. Dr. Silverman designs and oversees these studies, which have yielded the best event-free survival rates published for children with ALL.

A major focus of Dr. Silverman's research in the DFCI ALL Consortium has been to improve the survival rates for children with newly diagnosed and relapsed ALL. They have pioneered the use of a very sensitive test to detect sub-microscopic levels of disease (“minimal residual disease” or MRD) and have shown that levels of MRD at the end of the first month of treatment strongly predict subsequent risk of relapse. They are now testing a novel, intensified treatment for children and adolescents in order to improve their outcome. Dr. Silverman also leads several clinical trials of new agents, either alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs, in children and adolescents with relapsed ALL.

Dr. Silverman’s research also focuses on reducing short- and long-term effects of treatment in pediatric ALL patients. The DFCI ALL Consortium is a recognized leader in the study of asparaginase, an important chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of childhood ALL. The group has conducted a series of randomized trials comparing different asparaginase preparations and dosing in order to reduce dose-related toxicities without compromising efficacy. Dr. Silverman and colleagues have also studied the effect of doxorubicin, another chemotherapeutic agent, on cardiac function in children with ALL. In a randomized trial, they demonstrated that dexrazoxane, a potential cardioprotectant agent, prevented doxorubicin-associated cardiac dysfunction without adversely impacting event-free survival.

About Lewis Silverman

Dr. Silverman received his MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed an internship and residency at Children's Hospital Boston and a fellowship at Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He is currently Director of the Pediatric Hematologic Malignancy Service and Medical Director of the Inpatient Oncology Service.

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  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

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