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Dr. Bunin's current research focuses on the development of hematopoietic stem cell graft engineering for allogeneic transplantation to minimize graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), promote engraftment and immune reconstitution. She has also developed protocols for rapid manufacture of viral cytotoxic T lymphocytes to treat or prevent life threatening viral infections post hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
The majority of patients for whom hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is recommended lack an HLA-matched related donor. The risk of severe GVHD is higher with the use of alternative donors, including mismatched related and unrelated donors. Graft engineering, including the removal of subsets of T lymphocytes that cause GVHD, may alleviate this risk, while maintaining a graft versus leukemia effect, promoting rapid engraftment and immune reconstitution.
Dr. Bunin and her colleagues have developed protocols for various indications, including hematologic malignancies, bone marrow failure, and primary immune deficiencies. Their protocols have enabled them to successfully transplant children who lack well-matched donors, with greatly decreased risk of GVHD.
Viral infections remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality after HSCT, particularly with alternative donor transplants. Antibiotics to treat these viruses are often ineffective. Dr. Bunin has developed protocols that enable her Cell and Gene Therapy Lab to make cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) to treat these viruses within 24 hours. This method is faster than others, and will enable rapid treatment of patients. In addition, BK and Epstein-Barr viral CTLs may be used for patients following solid organ transplants, further expanding their use.
There is little established data regarding the neuropsychologic effects of HSCT in children. Dr. Bunin is working with neuropsychologists and have ongoing studies of post-HSCT neuropsychologic evaluation. This study will be expanded to include evaluation of depression in children and families undergoing HSCT.
Some of Dr. Bunin’s notable accomplishments include:
- Development of protocols for graft engineering to reduce the risk of GVHD and allow expansion of the donor pool for allogeneic transplant
- Study of neurocognitive dysfunction in children post HSCT
- Primary immunodeficiencies and HSCT, improving outcomes with the development of protocols that minimize GVHD and ensure rapid engraftment and immune reconstitution
Education and Training
BA, University of Pennsylvania (Biology), 1976
MD, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 1980
Titles and Academic Titles
Medical Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Program
Professor of Pediatrics
American Society of Hematology, 1983-
Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium, 1986-
American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 1988-2009
American Society for Blood & Marrow Transplant, 1986-
International Society for Cellular Therapy, 1986-
Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, 2006-
Pediatric Immune Deficiencies Treatment Consortium, 2013-
Clinical Immunology Society, 2013-
Master Clinical Award, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 2011