Prof. Fotios (Frank) Michelis


Affiliations: Staff Hematologist, Cancer Clinical Research Unit (CCRU), Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Research Interests:

Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), post-allogeneic transplant outcomes for patients with AML. My research currently is focused on the genetic mutations that drive relapse of AML following allogeneic stem cell transplantation. I am also investigating the incidence of secondary malignancies that occur in long-term survivors of allogeneic stem cell transplant.

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Capstone Project:

The identified need is the reduction of occurrence of relapse of AML following allogeneic HCT, as the prognosis of this patient group is very poor.

Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) may offer survival benefit to patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (Koreth et al, 2009, Cornelissen et al, 2007). A major challenge when treating AML patients with allogeneic HCT is disease relapse, with a one-year post-relapse survival less than 20% (Devillier et al, 2013). An even bigger challenge is predicting relapse, as AML is a genetically complex disease and there are currently no widely established sensitive tools. The gold standard for determining treatment response in AML is by microscopic examination of bone marrow and assessment of irregular, immature “blast” cells, with less than 5% blasts considered to demonstrate remission. Leukemia-associated immunophenotypes (LAIPs), which are defined at diagnosis by multi-parameter flow cytometry (MFC), can be used for monitoring in patients with AML (Kern et al, 2010). Studies using MFC on marrow samples pre-allogeneic HCT show that any level of detectable minimal residual disease (MRD) is associated with an increased risk of relapse (Walter et al, 2013). However the routine use of MFC may be complicated by issues such as the possible shift in antigen expression post-allogeneic HCT as well as the issue of standardization of the method in that particular setting.

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