The Program for Advanced Cell Therapy (PACT), a collaboration of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Carbone Cancer Center, has chosen its first medical director.
Dr. Inga Hofmann, assistant professor of pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), will assume the medical director role at the recently completed $1 million addition to the Clinical Hematopoietic Cell Processing Laboratory at University Hospital.
“Dr. Hofmann will be an incredible asset to our team because she brings her Dana-Farber expertise in clinical science for bone marrow disorders for the benefit of children and adults in need of novel experimental cell therapies,” said Dr. Jacques Galipeau, PACT director, and assistant dean of therapeutics discovery and development in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
Hofmann will manage the interaction between patients, SMPH, American Family Children’s Hospital clinical trials office and PACT as the program works to develop manufactured hematopoietic cells, enhanced lymphocytes, mesenchymal stem cells and other cell types for clinical trials.
She will work directly with her colleagues in the pediatric and adult bone marrow transplant program at UW Health to extract or inject stem cells in patients and integrate the Food and Drug Administration-sanctioned clinical trials that PACT will execute.
The main goal of PACT will be to bring SMPH-born cell technology innovations to the clinic through partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry, SMPH researchers and UW Health clinicians. A long-term vision is to make accessible to Wisconsinites new treatments utilizing cell-based therapies for cancer, autoimmune disorders and tissue injury.
The program is also important because nothing like this currently exists in Wisconsin, and a program such as this fits very well in the rich tradition of excellence in innovation and technologies that UW-Madison holds, according to Dr. Nirupama Pike, PACT director of cell manufacturing.
The first study to be launched with Hofmann’s leadership will deploy the use of virus-specific lymphocytes to treat lethal cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation that can occur in the bone marrow transplant and solid organ transplant settings. The aim is for a first-in-Wisconsin launch in early 2018, according to Hofmann.
“Providing promising first-in-human therapies, where no approved treatment exists for catastrophic health problems, is at the core of our research mission,” said Dr. Ken DeSantes, director of pediatric hematology and oncology at UW Health. “Dr. Hofmann will be a champion for children in need at AFCH.”
Devoted to Developing Treatments for Rare Childhood Diseases
Hofmann, a UW Health pediatrician, who specializes in pediatric bone marrow transplant and hematology, first established her research and clinical career in the Northeast.
Following her medical school experience – MD from Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Germany, in 2000 – Hofmann completed her pediatric residency at the University of California in San Francisco.
Upon completion of her residency, Hofmann began a prolific stint in pediatric hematology and oncology at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at Harvard Medical School, and in hematopathology and pediatric hematopathology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Boston Children’s Hospital.
At Boston Children’s Hospital, she discovered her passion in cell therapy. She became devoted to the rare childhood bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Hofmann created a national registry of patients and their blood samples in the hopes of completing research to help develop treatments for these often fatal diseases.