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Kirsten M. Williams, M.D.

Portait Photo of Kirsten Williams
Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch
Adjunct Investigator
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Bldg. 10 - Hatfield Clinical Research Center, Rm. 3-3288
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Dr. Williams received her M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed her pediatrics residency at the University Hospitals of Cleveland. She received her pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the National Cancer Institute. Her main research interests include: immune reconstitution following allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) and the consequences of impaired recovery of lymphocyte populations, including chronic graft-versus-host disease.


In the laboratory of Dr. Ronald Gress, I have studied mechanisms to enhance immune recovery following transplantation using murine models to understand the pathogenesis of aberrant immune recovery, with the goal of translating this work into clinical trials.

Laboratory Work:
Currently, we are using murine models to study how we can enhance T and B cell development after SCT. Lymphocyte development is delayed and incompetent compared to other leukocyte cell populations. Data suggest that thymus insufficiency contributes to this. My work has focused on how to enhance thymus renewal, including androgen withdrawal and lymphocyte progenitor expansion, thereby improving de novo lymphocyte number and function, with the potential clinical benefits of: improved clearance of infection, decreased risk of graft-versus-host disease, and potentially diminished rates of relapse.

Clinical/Translational Work:
I recently initiated a Phase II trial to study lupron (a medicine that decreases androgen production) prior to allogeneic SCT for adolescent and young adult patients with high-risk acute leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. T and B cell development will be studied and correlated with significant clinical outcomes (infection, relapse, and graft-versus-host disease). In addition, this trial has an imaging component that will visually demonstrate engraftment and may be correlated with significant clinical findings as well.

Previously, I initiated a Phase II clinical trial with Dr. Gress to evaluate the efficacy of montelukast for the treatment of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) after allogeneic transplantation (ongoing). In addition to evaluating the efficacy of this new treatment, this trial will also capture detailed immunologic endpoints to reveal the pathogenesis and persistence of this devastating complication of impaired immunity following transplantation. I am also the Chair of a new BOS study (Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephanie Lee), which is anticipated to open at NCI as well.

This page was last updated on 6/2/2014.