Judy Aschner, M.D.
Physician-in-Chief of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and the Marvin I. Gottlieb, M.D., Ph.D. Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center
Dr. Judy Aschner is the Physician-in-Chief of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and the Marvin I. Gottlieb, M.D., Ph.D. Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center. She is also the Clinical Director of the Children’s Transformation Services with responsibility for integrating pediatric services, quality initiatives, education and research across the two Children’s Hospitals and all pediatric programs in the Hackensack Meridian Health System. Dr. Aschner completed medical school training, pediatric residency and neonatology fellowship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Her past academic leadership roles include the Julia Carell Stadler Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of Neonatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (2004-2013), the Michael I. Cohen Professor and University Chair of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (2013-2018). Her NIH-funded translational research program focuses on (a) novel therapies to prevent and treat neonatal lung diseases and (b) understanding and mitigating the impact of environmental exposures in infancy on health outcomes for infants and children. She is principal investigator of a pediatric cohort in the NIH-funded Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program. Dr. Aschner has held a number of leadership roles in state and national organizations, including past Secretary-Treasurer of the American Pediatric Society and Chair of the Organization of Neonatology Program Directors. She is the Chair of the Federation of Pediatric Organizations, serves on the Board of External Experts (BEE) at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institution of the NIH, and is a member of the National Board of Trustees of the March of Dimes.
Alfred P. Gillio, M.D.
Director, Children’s Cancer Institute, Hackensack Meridian Health
Dr. Gillio earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, as well as completed a pediatric residence at the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, and fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Since 1984, Dr. Gillio has performed over 800 bone marrow transplants in children. He conducts research in both pediatric oncology and pediatric hematology. Dr. Gillio also oversees Hackensack Meridian Health’s pediatric Sickle Cell program, and conducted the first gene therapy treatment of Sickle Cell disease in the state of New Jersey.
“Here at the Institute, we’re using the latest technologies to reduce the intensity of treatments, thereby reducing the side effects from their medicines as well,” says Dr. Alfred Gillio, co-director, Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack Meridian Health, who has been at the forefront of the changes in therapies since joining the medical center.“Clinical research has allowed us to identify patient populations where we can possibly reduce those required therapies. Personalized therapy means less intensity of treatment and fewer side effects. The big push in pediatric bone marrow transplant research has allowed so many of our kids to do better in school, stay active with their peer groups, keep their energy up and just be kids,” said Gillio.
“As the only pediatric bone marrow transplant program in New Jersey, we have made great strides in transplant research. I would say 50 percent of the transplants we do are for patients that have nonmalignant diseases, hematologic diseases or immunologic diseases that can now be cured with transplants,” explained Gillio. “So we have widened the group of diseases that we transplant for as well, and that means less chemotherapy.”
Funding is the key, according to Gillio. “Increased funding would really allow us to look closer at the genome and identify some of these new cancer mutations. I believe this will lead to better cure rates and more personalized therapies that in the end will decrease the adverse effects of cancer chemotherapy and lead to a better life for these children.”
Burton Appel, M.D.
Assistant Director, Children’s Cancer Institute, Hackensack Meridian Health
Burton Appel, M.D., MBA is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric oncologist/hematologist who has served Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center since 1997. He is actively involved in the development of the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.Dr. Appel has extensive experience in clinical research in pediatric oncology. He is the institutional principal investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), overseeing the conduct of clinical trials for all types of pediatric cancer. His particular area of expertise is treatment of pediatric lymphoma. He has led a COG trial for treatment of pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma and has authored a number of publications on the biology and treatment of lymphoma.
Dr. Appel graduated from the University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine, remaining at the University of Chicago for residency training in pediatrics and fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology. He received a Certificate in Bioethics and Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He went on to receive an MBA from the Stillman School of Business of Seton Hall University.
Dr. Appel serves as assistant professor of pediatrics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. His professional affiliations also include membership in the American Society of Hematology and the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.
Michael B. Harris, M.D.
Director Emeritus, Children’s Cancer Institute, Hackensack Meridian Health
Director, Cure and Beyond Survivorship Program
“The history of the Institute goes back to June 29, 1987, when we moved from a hospital in New York and brought the program to Hackensack University Medical Center to what would become the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Michael B. Harris, Co-Director of the Children’s Cancer Institute. “Our philosophy from the very beginning was to provide cutting-edge therapy to children with blood disorders and cancer, and to establish an atmosphere conducive to their care and cure by establishing a very strong psycho-social presence. We brought in social workers, child life specialists, psychologists and educational liaisons who take care of all the families’ needs. We dedicated ourselves to performing careful research both clinically – and when the opportunity arose – translational research to bring discoveries that were being found in the laboratory to the bedside. I believe we accomplished those goals..”
The Children’s Cancer Institute now encompasses four major areas:
• Hematology for the care of blood disorders in children;
• Oncology to take care of children with cancer;
• A Bone Marrow Transplant Program to take care of children, not only with hematologic disorders such as sickle cell disease and cancer such as recurrent leukemias, but also immenial-efficiency syndromes that are now being transplanted at the Institute; and
• A Cure and Beyond Program for cancer survivorship to take care of children after they have been treated and through their teenage, adolescent, adult years and even beyond that. Dr. Harris is still following some patients who are now in their 50s!
“We want to take care of children from the beginning of their disease to the time they are cured, while giving them the best quality of life so they can become happy and productive adults… and I think we have accomplished all of that,” Harris added.
Jing Chen, M.D.
Jing Chen, M.D. serves in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Division at Hackensack University Medical Center of Hackensack Meridian Health. Dr. Chen earned her medical degree at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and her fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center.
Dr. Chen specializes in the genomics of leukemia and in targeted therapy for high-risk leukemia patients (ALL and AML). She is part of the Children’s Oncology Group myeloid working committee and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) working committee, focusing on clinical research for the next CML trial to deescalate TKI therapy in childhood CML. In addition, Dr. Chen is collaborating with pathologists from the AML working committee to better clarify the role and impact of complex karyotype in intermediate-risk AML patients. She has also initiated a monthly multidisciplinary molecular tumor board at HUMC.
For her research on high throughput, drug sensitivity screening for primary leukemia cells of patients with relapsed or refractory AML, Dr. Chen was awarded the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Young Investigator Grant award.
Steven Diamond, M.D.
Steven Diamond, M.D. is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric oncologist/hematologist serving Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center since 1998. His major administrative responsibilities include protocol treatment of pediatric oncology patients; management of pediatric patients with hematologic disease; emphasis on sickling hemoglobinopathies and neonatal hematologic problems.
Dr. Diamond has conducted research and been published in his field, participating in and witnessing progress made through numerous clinical trials. His major research interests are new methods in red cell serology particularly involving low ionic media and the national history of sickle cell disease in pediatric patients. His special interests are blood banking, immunohematology, hemoglobinopathy, histiocytosis and general pediatric oncology.
Dr. Diamond attended New York City public schools, Brooklyn College as an undergraduate and the University of Pennsylvania for medical school. He trained at Mount Sinai and Beth Israel in New York and has served in the field of pediatric hematology/oncology for more than 40 years. His professional affiliations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and the Histiocyte Society.
Dr. Diamond serves on the faculty of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. His major committee assignments include roles as a member of the Advisory Committee on Sickle Cell Disease to the New Jersey State Commissioner of Health and co-chair of the Hemoglobinopathy Subcommittee of the same committee.
Dr. Diamond is inspired by his patients and their families. He is motivated by the need to improve the outcomes of our patients with malignant disease and to improve the quality of their lives.
Derek Hanson, M.D.
Derek Hanson, M.D. is the Program Head of Pediatric Neuro-oncology at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center and is the head of the Hackensack University Medical Center Institutional Review Board for Research. He received his medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Following graduation, he completed his pediatric residency at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and his pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at North Shore-LIJ Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. He then completed a pediatric neuro-oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Hanson’s work focuses on clinical care research with a special focus on developing phase I trials to provide new treatments for children with brain tumors.
Paul Harlow, M.D.
Paul Harlow, M.D. is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric hematologist/oncologist. He has served as a member of the Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack Meridian Health since its inception in 1987. He currently serves as an associate hematologist/oncologist at the Institute for Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center and as a pediatric consultant at the Institute of Child Development at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Dr. Harlow earned his medical degree at SUNY Downstate Medical School. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Bronx Municipal Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his fellowship in hematology/oncology at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
A fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Harlow maintains a general pediatric practice in addition to working part-time with the team at the Children’s Cancer Institute
Jennifer Krajewski, M.D.
Jennifer Krajewski, M.D. has served the Pediatric Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center since 2010. Her primary interest is in the use of allogeneic transplantation for sickle cell anemia. Board-certified in both general pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology, Dr. Krajewski conducts research and publishes in her field.
Her current research includes two investigator-initiated Hackensack University Medical Center protocols for reduced intensity stem cell transplant in sickle cell patients two through 30 years old. Dr. Krajewski is a member of the Sickle Cell Transplant Alliance for Research (STAR), an international organization created to investigate the best way to use stem cell transplants to cure sickle cell disease. She was recently appointed co-chair of the STAR Advocacy Education Outreach Committee.
She co-authored a review article on the use of stem cell transplantation as a cure for sickle cell anemia, published in the journal Bone Marrow Transplantation in 2012. She also served as a co-investigator in a quality improvement project examining the role of a treatment pathway for pediatric sickle cell patients presenting in the Emergency Department with vaso-occlusive crisis. The results were published in in the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer in 2013.
Dr. Krajewski earned her medical degree at Finch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School. She completed her general pediatric residency at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. During this time, she developed a palliative care education curriculum for residents. She completed her fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, serving as co-chief fellow during her third year. She was awarded the best translational research prize at Columbia for her basic science research on NOTCH signaling in neuroblastoma. Along with STAR, her professional affiliations include: Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Consortium.
Dr. Krajewski is inspired by her patients and their families. She is motivated by making it possible to offer bone marrow transplant as a cure for all sickle cell patients so that they don’t have to live with this severe life-altering disease.
Katharine Offer, M.D.
Katharine Offer, M.D. is a pediatric oncologist at the Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack Meridian Health. She completed a fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, specializing in hematology and oncology.
Dr. Offer specializes in sarcomas and solid tumors in her work at the Children’s Cancer Institute. She focuses on expanding the sarcoma research program at Hackensack University Medical Center, and is working with laboratory researchers to learn more about the biology of bone sarcomas in order to pave the way for future treatments of this disease.
Stacey Rifkin-Zenenberg, D.O., FAAP
Stacey Rifkin-Zenenberg, D.O., FAAP is a pediatric oncologist/hematologist serving the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Division at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center. Dr. Rifkin-Zenenberg also serves the medical center as section chief of the Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program. She previously served the pediatric hematology/oncology faculty at the Valerie Fund for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Rifkin-Zenenberg has an interest in all aspects of pediatric hematology and oncology, with special interest and expertise in sickle cell disease, other hematologic disorders, and palliative oncology. She has additional training and interest in pediatric bioethics.
Dr. Rifkin-Zenenberg earned her medical degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. She completed her pediatric internship and residency at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, NJ and completed her pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Schneider Children’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY.
Dr. Rifkin-Zenenberg serves as a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. She conducts research and is published in her field. She has previously served on numerous hospital committees involved with issues including bioethics, cancer care and institutional review.
A fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, her professional affiliations also include membership in the: American Society of Hematology/Oncology, American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Pain Society, and Society of Integrative Oncology.
Jessica Scerbo, M.D.
Jessica Scerbo, M.D. is the section chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center. She received her medical degree from St. George’s University Medical School. Following graduation, she completed her pediatric residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at North Shore-LIJ Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. Dr. Scerbo’s special interest is in adolescent and young adult oncology.
Bruce. N. Terrin, M.D.
Bruce N. Terrin, M.D., pediatric oncologist and hematologist, serves the Institute for Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders and the Department of Pediatrics at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center. Board-certified in pediatric oncology and hematology, Dr. Terrin is a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Terrrin earned his Bachelor of Arts in chemistry at Yale University and his medical degree at New York University Medical School in New York, NY. He completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Medical College of Virginia Children’s Medical Center in Richmond, VA. He served as a pediatric resident at Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center in New York, NY. He trained in medical Spanish, which included work at Bayamon District Hospital in Puerto Rico.
In practice in northern New Jersey for more than 33 years, Dr. Terrin has published papers and abstracts in his field. He is also active in the mental health community, serving as chairman of the Bergen County Mental Health Board for a term of three years.
Dr. Terrin is inspired by his patients and their families. He is motivated by the desire to provide the best and most compassionate care for children, adolescents and young adults.