Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute welcomed Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE, as assistant vice president and chief clinical research officer in early 2018. A long-standing member of the CHOP research community, Dr. Aplenc’s work at CHOP began with his Pediatric Hematology Oncology Fellowship in 1997. A faculty member since 2002, Dr. Aplenc currently is a professor of both Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In his new leadership role, Dr. Aplenc is setting the course for the development and oversight of clinical research operations across CHOP.
Dr. Aplenc’s research is focused on acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chiefly AML therapeutics as well as clinical and genetic epidemiology studies that aim to improve clinical outcomes for pediatric patients. Dr. Aplenc received a Hyundai Quantum Grant from Hyundai Hope on Wheels in 2016 to identify novel cell surface proteins for immunotherapy targeting and is leading a Phase I chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) trial in the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium.
He is also using “big data” to improve the care of children with AML today. These projects use very large data sets to identify patient populations at particular risk for chemotherapy side effects. Dr. Aplenc is interested in understanding the risk factors associated with cardiac complications during and shortly after AML therapy. In addition, he is studying why certain demographic groups of patients seem to be at increased risk of toxicity and death during AML therapy. This work is leading his research group into analyses of patient-reported outcomes and preferences as we seek to understand the experience of patients and families undergoing AML therapy in the United States.
Finally, Dr. Aplenc leads a multi-centered prospective clinical trial evaluating medical and patient-reported outcomes for different hospitalization strategies after AML chemotherapy in children. This work is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
His broad research experiences reflect the commitment of all of the investigators at CHOP Research to improve outcomes for pediatric patients, while his immersion in Phase I clinical trials has uniquely prepared Dr. Aplenc to lead his team through the thrilling but sometimes choppy waters of discovery. Whether working to reveal new molecular mechanisms or unraveling the complexities of conducting drug therapy trials, Dr. Aplenc is inspired by families and patients living with life-threatening illness who choose to participate in research to give other children a chance at healthier futures.