ASTCT asked Amrita Krishnan, MD questions about what it is like to be a woman in the transplantation and cellular therapy field in celebration of Women's History Month, March 2022.
What inspired you to enter the BMT and Cellular Therapy field?
I went to med school thinking that I would be an obstetrician and live in Vermont. So somehow I end up in California as a myeloma doctor and transplanter. Hence my message is don’t be afraid to change your mind. I realized during training that the part of OB that I liked was the ability to have a long relationship with a patient and also the complexity of the medical parts of OB. Hematology offered both those things. During my residency and fellowship
I was fortunate to have trained under some of the leaders in the field of HCT- Dr J Dipersio, Dr S Forman. They were passionate about the science that could make treatment of heme malig better. But also exemplified that first and foremost you need to be a good doctor. Some of the lessons that Dr Forman taught me still echo in my head to this day.
How do you inspire others?
I definitely do not think I am much of an inspiration to others, more that I try to learn from others in all fields. Right now my major goal of the day is to try to keep our new puppy from rampaging through the house.
Which living person do you most admire?
There is not one person but parts of many. Jhumpa Lahiri- as every Indian woman doctor I know secretly wanted to be a writer, but sadly I lack that talent. Melinda Gates because she exemplifies that satisfaction in life doesn’t come from possessions but from knowing you have purpose. But I don’t want to forget my other hero Mindy Kaling as she showed Indian women that even if you don’t fit the mold, rather than giving up, you create your own narrative.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in this field?
I don’t really think about the woman part , I think about the field and how amazing it is to see such progress during my medical career. CART felt like science fiction when I started training . It shows me that the field is limitless
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t have a singular one, but am proud to be part of the team that pioneered stem cell transplantation in patients who were HIV positive at a time when that life saving option was denied to many patients due to underlying HIV infection.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I have a group of patients who call themselves the Thursday myeloma club. We all live in the same area and are around the same generation. I am in awe of how they support each other, still have joie de vivre and are passionate about advancingmyeloma therapy. They face a life threatening illness with grace and humor every day.
About Amrita Krishnan, MD:
Since joining City of Hope , I have been instrumental in initiating this institution’s involvement in developing and evaluating several new drugs for myeloma, leading to FDA approval of four of these agents. I am currently on the steering committee for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, a group of leading institutions specializing in developing new treatments for myeloma. I have also led my own investigator-initiated Phase I/II trials through the MMRF. In addition, I am past chair of the myeloma committee of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN), I was the PI for two of the largest myeloma transplant trials conducted through the BMT CTN, one investigating the role of allogeneic transplantation in myeloma and one studying novel agents post-transplant for myeloma. I have been a chair of the plasma cell/ lymphoma committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and a former co-chair of the CIBMTR plasma cell committee, as well as the North American representative to the International Myeloma Society. My research interests are focused on developing novel therapies for myeloma.