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The one hundred honoree: Thomas R. Spitzer, MD

Profile in Medicine

The one hundred honoree: Thomas R. Spitzer, MD

Mass General Giving

“Thomas Spitzer, MD, established the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the Mass General Cancer Center in 1992, growing it into one of the most distinguished centers for stem cell transplantation in the world.

An expert clinician, teacher and researcher, Dr. Spitzer specializes in treating leukemia and other blood cancers which are often treated with bone marrow transplantation—and has contributed much knowledge to this field. Under his leadership, the program instituted several state-of-the-art techniques such as reduced intensity transplants that use lower-dose chemotherapy and permit transplantation in older patients; the introduction of transplantation earlier in therapy; and the use of drugs to prevent graft-versus-host disease.

In a breakthrough benefiting patients with multiple myeloma and kidney failure, Dr. Spitzer and his team performed the first simultaneous bone marrow and kidney transplants. This double procedure treats the multiple myeloma and increases the likelihood of the body’s acceptance of the kidney without the use of immunosuppressive drugs.

The advances Dr. Spitzer has spearheaded in the Bone Marrow Transplant Program have saved many lives. Some more than once.

“Dr. Spitzer and his team have saved my life several times over—first, with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and then with two forms of bone marrow transplants,” says Michael Karlson, who has successfully battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than 10 years. “Throughout the difficult treatments, Dr. Spitzer has marshaled hospital resources and provided warm and comforting professional care.”