“We are looking to give new treatments to people who need new options,” Michael R. Bishop, MD, said.
Dr. Bishop grew up in Olney, attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago before his residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital provided him with the experience that would shape the rest of his career.
“I was blessed to meet oncology patients,” he said. At Northwestern he worked with bone marrow transplantations and then went on to work 12 years at the National Institute of Health (NIH), the federal government’s principal agent for cancer treatment research. Dr. Bishop worked on the clinical side of the NIH and it was there that he crossed paths with Anthony Fauci, MD, who is a household name as the NIH’s director of the National institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and now chief medical advisor to the president of the United States. Fauci was a CPR instructor for Dr. Bishop and his NIH colleagues.
In 2011, he joined the University of Chicago Medicine, where he currently serves as director of the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation program.
At Carle, Dr. Bishop is using his expertise in caring for patients with hematologic malignancies not responding to first-line treatments. In close collaboration with Carle oncologists, he is at Carle Cancer Institute Urbana twice a month to see patients and determine if they want to pursue advanced cancer therapy at Carle or Car T-Cell therapy, through his work with the University of Chicago Medicine. Simply put, the way the Car T-cell therapy works is immune cells are removed from a patient’s bloodstream, built up to be cancer-fighting cells and then returned to the patient.
“There is a common belief that the immune system is good at fighting cancer, but it just needs some help,” Dr. Bishop said.
Aggressive blood cancers can grow rapidly over a period of just four to five weeks and having this connection for patients who would not travel to big cities for expert consultations is of tremendous value, Sinisa Stanic, MD, medical director at Carle Cancer Institute Urbana, said.
“We are truly honored to have an expert of such high caliber at Carle Cancer Institute
Urbana,” Dr. Stanic said. “Our patients appreciate his work and the Cancer Institute’s leadership highly values his efforts.”
Plans are to start a new tumor board for aggressive blood cancers at Carle Cancer Institute Urbana and this progress would not be possible without support from Dr. Bishop, Carle Cancer Institute Urbana Director Jason Hirschi said.
Dr. Bishop, who lived in Olney from age 5 through high school, still has family members living there and he sees his work at Carle as opportunity to connect back to his roots with the knowledge he has gained over the years. “I hope to give back a little and provide more resources to people in the region where I grew up.”