Natasha Szuber, MD, (@NatashaSzuber), is an associate professor at the University of Montreal and a hematologist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, where she specializes in the treatment of myeloid malignancies. A Montreal native with an affinity for rock music and all the associated nostalgia, Dr. Szuber fondly recalls the time before she had found her stride in the medical field: “I played 12-string guitar and sang in a rock band, cut some albums, and toured across Canada in a burgundy van. Every part of it was amazing…except for the van.” Although she has mused on an alternative life writing hematology-themed parodies of popular rock songs — think “Smells like Heme Spirit”, “You're so Vein”, and “My-Eloma” (to the tune of “My Sharona”) — what she loves most about working in hematology are the deep connections she has been able to form with her patients.
- One thing you’d be surprised to learn about me: “Every few months, I get a royalty check for anywhere from 23 to 56 cents from one of our songs having been played in Vietnam — that’s right, lining my pockets with my rock n' roll legacy!”
Juliana Perez Botero, MD, (@JuliPerezBot), born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, is a classical hematologist intrigued by the “detective work” associated with her specialization in laboratory diagnostics. As medical director of diagnostic hematology at Versiti and an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, her work focuses on phenotype–genotype correlations in patients with inherited blood disorders and novel diagnostic laboratory testing strategies. Dr. Perez Botero now lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her wife, Donna, and their two pets, beagle mix Birdie and sphynx cat Roxy. After a karaoke night spent accompanying the singers with “spoon percussion” a few years ago — which she admits she enjoyed a little more than she should have — she also started taking drumming lessons.
- If I hadn’t become a hematologist, I would be a: “Air traffic controller as a career, but my best life would probably be as a dog in my home!”
Diego Adrianzen Herrera, MD, MSc, (@diegoah66), who specializes in acute leukemias and myelodysplastic syndromes, is an assistant professor of medicine at Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Had he not entered hematology, he described his dream career as that of an investigative journalist who tackles current affairs, which seems quite fitting given his approach to his area of specialization. When asked what he loves most about his work, he highlighted the opportunity to collaborate with hematopathologists, working as a team of “medical detectives” to translate diverse morphologic, cytogenetic, and molecular data into the proper diagnoses for their patients. An avid reader, Dr. Adrianzen Herrera particularly enjoys contemporary Latin American literature and even writes his own short stories (when he can find the time!)
- One thing people might be surprised to learn about me: “I am originally from Peru and grew up in a city in northern Peru, close to the border with Ecuador. It is a place with very hot weather, but I actually prefer cold weather and enjoy winter activities.”
Samer Al Hadidi, MD, MS, (@HadidiSamer), is an assistant professor of medicine at the Myeloma Institute of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, specializing in multiple myeloma, plasma cell dyscrasia, cellular therapies, and stem cell transplantation. After earning his medical degree at the University of Jordan, he completed his internal medicine residency at Michigan State University and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX) under the supervision of 2023 ASH honoree Helen Heslop (Mentor Award). When asked what he loves most about working in hematology, Dr. Al Hadidi noted that he values the opportunity to contribute to the diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of rare, often complex hematologic malignancies. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with his wife Zain (a pediatric infectious disease specialist) and his three children (Rose, Hanan, and Ahmad).
- What I love most about working in hematology: “The opportunity to contribute to diagnosing and treating patients with hematological malignancies and specifically multiple myeloma, constantly advancing my understanding of this complex field.”
Joselle Cook, MBBS, (@JoselleCookMD), is an associate professor of medicine and senior associate consultant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, she earned her medical degree from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. She completed her residency at SUNY Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn, New York, along with a hematology oncology fellowship followed by a plasma cell disorders fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. When asked what she loves most about working in hematology, Dr. Cook had a hard time choosing just one thing. As a recent graduate of the Clinical Research Training Institute, she recalled how that experience has reinforced her belief in the supportive nature of the global hematologic community. In her work, she is galvanized by the rapid advancements that continue to push the field of plasma cell disorders closer to achieving curative treatments within her lifetime.
- When I’m not working, I enjoy: “Going to the gym! That’s a non-negotiable!”
Brittany Knick Ragon, MD, (@BKRagonMD), who originally set out to pursue a PhD in biosystems engineering, is a leukemia/transplant specialist at the Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Originally from Goose Creek, South Carolina, she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband Christopher (whom she describes as the secret to her success), her two children (7-year-old son Harrison and 3-year-old daughter Ellison), and their 12-year-old Vizsla Clementine (arguably the most human-like dog you’ll ever meet). To Dr. Ragon — who knows she has found her calling since being able to “find her Zen” hunting for blasts on a blood smear — there’s something very different about working in hematology: our patients. “You get to be with them during some of the most incredible moments but also some of the darkest days. It can be very bittersweet. It is hard to describe the sense of absolute purpose that I feel at the end of a long day caring for our patients.”
- One thing people might be surprised to learn about me: “I actually had a legitimate fear of hospitals. I seem to recall it had something to do with a MacGyver episode I saw (no clue how I made the connection there). My mom was a nurse, so even the smell from her scrubs would make me feel a bit anxious. Some switch flipped in me when I did my first clinical rotation, and now the hospital feels like where I was always meant to work.”
Hilary Whitworth, MD, MSCE, (@HilaryWhitworth), is an instructor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine (University of Pennsylvania) and an attending physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she specializes in pediatric thrombosis and hemostasis. To Dr. Whitworth, it’s not just figuring out an unknown diagnosis that keeps hematology exciting and inspiring: It’s watching kids grow up and thrive despite their blood disorders. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling, and baking. She even confessed that, were she not a hematologist, she wouldn’t mind a career as a pastry chef!
- One thing people might be surprised to learn about me: “I love to snowboard.”
Nadine Abdallah, MD, (@nadineabdal), who received an ASH Research Training Award for Fellows earlier this year, is an advanced hematology fellow in dysproteinemia at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her research focuses on the role of body composition, geriatric assessment, and aging biomarkers in predicting treatment toxicity, with the goal of identifying and eliminating barriers to implementing geriatric assessment. Outside of work, she enjoys shopping, hiking, and spending time with her husband, Amjad, and their infant son Theo.
- One thing people might be surprised to learn about me: “The gym is my least favorite place, and my hidden talent is event planning.”
Abdul Rafae, MD, (@a_rafaemd), is a PGY-5 fellow in hematology and medical oncology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Previously, he served as a chief medical resident in the Department of Internal Medicine at McLaren Flint (Michigan State University, Flint, MI) under Parul Sud, MD. Dr. Rafae has a particular interest in leukemia and lymphoma. For Dr. Rafae, the many areas of unmet need within the field are what keep hematology interesting and fulfilling. Dr. Rafae and his wife (now an internal medicine resident herself) live in North Little Rock, Arkansas, with their infant son Yusuf.
- One thing people might be surprised to learn about me: “I love doing road trips. I once drove straight for 13 hours from western Michigan to New York. I have done many road trips along the East Coast, and now I am planning to explore Midwest and West Coast.”
Megan Sears-Smith, MD, is a second-year fellow at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina, where her clinical and research interests include lymphoma, classical hematology, and the effect of healthcare disparities on outcomes in adolescent and young adult hematology patients. Beyond her appreciation for the continuous learning required, her favorite part of being a hematologist is being able to work alongside her patients to meet their goals for care. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, camping, reading, traveling, and generally spending time outdoors. Fittingly, had she not become a hematologist, she noted that she would have become a wildlife biologist and conservation advocate. She and her husband, RI, of five years live in Charlotte with their two dogs, a Corgi named Daisy and a black Labrador named Sally.
One thing people might be surprised to learn about me: “I am slowly learning Spanish as a second language in order to communicate better with my Spanish-speaking patients, and I enjoy occasionally watercolor painting.”