Dr. Verschraegen has over 30 years’ experience working in drug development and clinical research. During this time, she has done extensive research into how chemotherapy drugs Alimta and Gemcitabine can be combined to effectively treat mesothelioma in many patients.
“In my 30 years of being an academic medical oncologist, incredible progress has been made in a few areas — most notably include some leukemias, lung cancer, and melanoma where novel targeted therapies and immunotherapies have transformed cancer from dreadful to possibly curable. These advancements have been possible through well-planned clinical and translational research, to which I have devoted the greatest part of my professional life,” said Dr. Verschraegen.
Dr. Verschraegen’s Location
Dr. Verschraegen currently works at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC- James), as a professor and Director of Medical Oncology.
The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
460 West 10th Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Dr. Verschraegen has experienced many successes throughout her career, including:
- Completed extensive research on Alimta and gemcitabine, concluding it is often an effective treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma
- Is recognized as an academic leader within the medical community with over 80 peer-reviewed articles, in addition to 20 invited articles and 10 book chapters
- Has held director positions had numerous world-leading medical institutions, including The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and the New Mexico Cancer Center
Dr. Verschraegen’s Background
Dr. Verschraegen was born in Belgium. She earned her MD at Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, graduating Magna Cum Laude, then completed an internal medicine internship at the Institut Jules Bordet. From there, she completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Houston and a fellowship in cancer research from Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research. Dr. Verschraegen then completed a second fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in medical oncology, remaining at MD Anderson for the next seven years.
In the following years, Dr. Verschreagen held several positions, including medical director at the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance and director of Translational Therapeutics and Clinical Research at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center. At the University of Vermont, Dr. Verschraegen oversaw the Phase 1 clinical trials program, was the Irwin H. Krakoff, MD, Endowed Green & Gold Professor of Medicine, and directed the hematology/oncology division. She was also deputy director of the University of Vermont Cancer Center.
Dr. Verschraegen currently works at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. She is their director of medical oncology and associate director of the translational research program.
Dr. Verschraegen has been involved in several professional associations, including:
- Member – Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology
- Member – GOG Foundation
- Member – EORTC
- Member – SWOG (formerly Southwest Oncology Group)
- Member – Scientific Board of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF)
- Member – Education Committee of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS)
Dr. Verschraegen’s extensive background in medical oncology gives her several unique areas of focus, and she is best known for her innovative clinical trial work and academic findings. She has focused on anti-cancer drug development, as well as treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.
Dr. Verschraegen is a highly accomplished academic oncologist, and has held illustrious positions at some of the world’s top cancer facilities. She has been principal investigator for numerous clinical trials and is noted for her work with New Mexico’s Community Clinical Oncology Program, providing clinical trial access to minorities.
Dr. Verschraegen’s ability to receive continuous funding for Phase I, II, and II clinical trials is extraordinary, especially for cancers like mesothelioma that have been traditionally challenging to support due to their rarity.
Dr. Verschraegen continues to teach residents and fellows and routinely shares her new findings with the medical community.
Awards & Honours
Dr. Verschraegen has received countless awards and honors throughout her career, including:
- Fullbright Fellow
- Occino-Kernkamp Prize – Belgium Association of University Women
- America’s Top Doctors
- America’s Top Doctors for Cancer
- CMS Stage 1 EHR
- Current Work
Dr. Verschraegen currently oversees the Division of Medical Oncology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital (OSUCCC – James). She leads over 50 faculty members who practice a wide range of cancer care and research specialties. She continues to be involved in numerous clinical trials and publications, and is an active academic medical oncologist.
Notable Clinical Trials
Dr. Verschraegen is a true believer infunding clinical trials to develop new and innovative ways of treating people. She also believes in the power of recruiting participants for clinical trials so that researchers can actually follow through with and analyze their experimental therapies.
Clinical Trials Update
Because of her strong belief in the clinical trial process, she has led several of them. But one of the most notable ones was her testing of a new chemotherapy drug combination for peritoneal mesothelioma. Between 2002 and 2004, Dr. Verschraegen and her team of researchers tested a chemotherapy drug combination of Pemetrexed and gemcitabine.
This approach was significant because up until this clinical trial, the only other approved drug combination for peritoneal mesothelioma was Pemetrexed and cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug. But because patient response varies between different drug types, it’s important for researchers to find new, effective drug combinations that can be tolerated by other patients.
The reason these two chemotherapy drugs were chosen is because they have shown to have synergistic effects, meaning together they become more effective than each one is on its own. The results of this drug combination were promising, indicating that peritoneal mesothelioma patients could improve their median survival times with this approach.
Dr. Verschraegen’s Healing Philosophy
Dr. Verschraegen is a vital advocate for the advancement of mesothelioma research and treatment. Her dedication to developing, promoting and ultimately completing clinical trial tests on new therapies has been critical. What sets an average medical professional apart from an extraordinary one is the level of belief they put into their research.
Dr. Verschraegen understands the importance of finding and recruiting patients to participate in clinical trials for the betterment of all patients today and tomorrow. She believes that patients deserve the best, most effective treatments possible and understands the significant role that clinical trials play in achieving this goal. Without clinical trials, we cannot make progress and ultimately find a cure for mesothelioma.