Member Spotlight: Kelly Craven

1. Name and affiliation:
Kelly Craven, MD PhD,                                        

2.  What is your professional title?
I am a senior resident at Johns Hopkins in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, future Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

3. How did you decide to enter the field/what (or who) brought you into the field?
I was first attracted to pathology in general after doing my PhD at Indiana University in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. We were working in mouse models at the time, and some of the lab’s work included doing immunohistochemical stains (IHC) on tissue. It wasn’t until I was exposed to its use in the lab that I considered it a viable career path.

I was first introduced to molecular pathology when I worked as a bioinformatician doing drug discovery in a pharmaceutical company. Also, part of my PhD involved looking at cancer genomic data.

Later, I did a rotation in the molecular diagnostics lab and saw how a molecular pathologist approaches cases and is involved in clinical care. I also liked the idea of a field that might allow you additional time if I were interested in research.

Since that time, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work in software involved in NGS at a clinical level, working with the local bioinformatician to improve detection of FLT3-ITDs. Specifically, we evaluated ABRA2, which seems to work pretty well on ITD’s 100 bp or less.

4. What do you do? How would you describe your role?
I’m currently a senior resident in the pathology residency program. I’m currently doing my hematology / coagulation rotation. My duties include triaging send out tests and advising clinicians on which tests might be appropriate.

5. What degree(s) and/or training did you receive to achieve your position?
I got my bachelor’s in biology and computer science at Indiana University (hence I was a bioinformatician for five years after college). I did my MD/PhD at Indiana University.

My PhD focused on angiogenesis in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In contrast to neuroendocrine tumors, ductal tumors of the pancreas are less angiogenic. I evaluated the difference between those two tumor types in terms of different angiogenic pathways by looking at TCGA data and clinical mouse models. I found as many as 30% of ductals have an angiogenic profile and that if we targeted those pathways with specific inhibitors, those with angiogenic pathway actually responded.Once I completed my PhD, I matched at Johns Hopkins for my AP/CP residency.

6. What is the greatest challenge you face in your work?
It depends on the specific rotation. In general, the biggest challenge we face when we look at a case, whether it’s tissue or lab results, is putting it in the appropriate context of the patient and their clinical course.

7. What is the best part of your work as you see it? (most interesting, most fun…)
We see cases that are very rare and are constantly learning. For example, I was just on hematopathology, and had a number of systemic mastocytoses as well as an ALK positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and I get to learn from each one of those cases.

8. Optional follow up question- what do you do for fun?
I’m a foodie and Baltimore has lots of interesting restaurants to explore. Also, I like to golf and have gone out many times in the warmer months with other co-residents to Baltimore County courses.

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