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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Donna Wall, MD, CCPE

The Hospital for Sick Children
Section Head - Blood and Marrow Transplant
Haematology/Oncology

Research Institute
Senior Associate Scientist
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

University of Toronto
Professor
Department of Paediatrics


Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 202349
Fax: 416-813-5327
Email: donna.wall@sickkids.ca
Alternate Contact: Michelle Gouveia
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 203298
Alternate Email: michelle.gouveia@sickkids.ca

For more information, visit:

Wall Lab

Brief Biography

Dr. Wall joined The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and University of Toronto in the fall of 2016 as Section Head of the Blood and Marrow Transplant/Cellular Therapy program. After completing paediatric and paediatric hematology/oncology training in New York and Boston she went on to establish BMT and public cord blood banks in St. Louis and San Antonio. Most recently she has led the Manitoba Blood and Marrow Transplant program including the Manitoba Center for Advanced Cell and Tissue Therapy. She has chaired the hematopoietic stem cell transplant discipline in the Children’s Oncology Group and holds leadership positions in the Paediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Group, the Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group and the CIHR-funded Canadian National Transplant Research program. Her research has focused on improving the outcomes of children undergoing transplant through a better understanding of the role of the innate immune system and the interaction between donor immune cells and their new environment both during the establishment of hematopoiesis/tolerance and as a tool to treat leukemia.  She works with the entire BMT/CT program on early phase clinical trials exploring gene therapy trials for hemoglobinopathies and chimeric-antigen receptor T cell therapy for childhood acute leukemia.

Academic Background

Degrees

1981: B.Sc, Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

1981: MD, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Postgraduate, Research and Specialty Training

1985 - 1987: Research Fellowship, Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

1984 - 1987: Fellowship, Medicine (Hematology/Oncology), The Children’s Hospital,Boston, Massachusetts, United States

1984 - 1987: Fellowship, Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, United States

1982 - 1984: Resident, Pediatrics, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, United States

1981 - 1982: Intern, Pediatrics, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, New York, United States

Research Interests

Clinical Research

A firm believer in the synergy that comes with collaborative multicenter trials, I am active in cooperative group trials including Children's Oncology Group (COG) (vice-chair of the Cellular Therapy discipline), Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium (PBMTC),  NCIC-C17 developmental therapeutics and transplant committees, Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group (president 2018-2020), and the Pediatric Immunodeficiency Disorder network (PIDTC).


Our program is active in asking important questions in several important transplant/cellular therapy multicenter trials.  The FORUM trial (institutional PI), being run in 30 countries, is asking whether we can avoid total body irradiation as part of the transplant process for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia; potentially sparing long-term side effects.  We have several chimeric antigen receptor T cell trials open at SickKids evaluating their impact on the control of leukemia in children who have high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Additionally, early phase trials in gene therapy utilizing CRISPR/Cas9 editing of hematopoietic stem cells to correct/ameliorate thalassemia and sickle cell disease (institutional PI) are starting with a collaboration with hematologist colleagues.  

We have many translational- and registry-based trials working towards making transplant/cell therapy more effective and less toxic.

Translational Research

Working in cellular therapy laboratory (GMP-compliant cell manufacturing) and related cord blood banking I have been active in the field of developmental cell therapeutics. My research focus has been on immune regulatory cells – myeloid derived suppressor cells and mesenchymal stem/stromal cells – both of which have potent abilities to modify the immune response.  The laboratory, the Translational Transplant/Cellular Therapy Lab, supports clinical research projects and additionally has two main areas of research – better understanding of the role of inflammation in the early hematopoiesis peri-transplant and understanding the ontogeny of myeloid-derived suppressor cells.  Myeloid-derived suppressor cells are a population of immature myeloid cells with profound suppressive functions that are able to shutdown T, B and dendritic cell function. We have found that these cells are enriched in allogeneic stem/progenitor cell grafts and recover early post-transplant, making them excellent candidates for modulators of the immune environment post-transplant both to prevent GVHD and enhance graft vs leukemia/tumor activity.  Through a better understanding of the immunobiology of the graft and the early post-transplant setting we are looking at modifying immune function post-transplant to optimize anti-tumor responses in solid tumors such as neuroblastoma. A transplant/cell therapy biobank to support current and future studies is in development.

Clinical Care Activities

  • Inpatient service in the BMT unit
  • Outpatient BMT clinic

Achievements

2018: Chair, Garron Family/Hats off to Kidz Chair in Pediatric Leukemia research

2014 - 2016: Bihlers’ Professorship In Stem Cell Research, University of Manitoba

2013: Schilly Award, Canadian Blood Services

2001: Spirit of Health Award, American Cancer Society

1999: Wendell G. Scott Award for Contributions in Cancer Control, American Cancer Society

1989 - 1990: Young Investigator Award, American Society of Clinical Oncology

1985 - 1989: Research Fellow, Medical Research Council of Canada

1985 - 1987: Farley Fund Clinical Fellowship, Harvard Medical School

1994: Teaching Award, Tufts Medical School

Publications

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=wall+donna