Dr. Hedy Kindler is director of the mesothelioma program at University of Chicago Medicine, focused on turning the latest innovative discoveries into better clinical care for her patients.
Kindler has been recognized internationally for her expertise in mesothelioma, attracting patients from around the country to participate in clinical trials, which often involve cutting-edge treatments not yet available anywhere else.
She also has expertise in pancreatic, colon and rectal cancers, along with gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Her research focuses on the investigation of the latest drug discoveries with potential to advance treatment of these difficult diseases.
When she first came to Chicago almost 20 years ago, only 10 to 15 people annually were being seen at the comprehensive cancer center.
Today, she sees more than 120 newly diagnosed patients each year as one of America’s most sought-after specialists. She is a past president of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group.
Kindler serves on several national committees and boards studying this cancer, including the Science Advisory Board of the Mesothelioma Foundation. She has lectured at more than 100 scientific meetings around the world.
“To understand the subtleties of this disease, you need an expert,” she said. “Mesothelioma isn’t lung cancer. It’s important to have someone who is comfortable treating the disease, someone who understands all the options out there.”
Kindler’s interest in mesothelioma is personal, intensifying her passion for leading this fight, for helping these patients battle a cancer with no definitive cure.
Her father died of the disease in 2001, just two years after she joined University of Chicago Medicine.
She became fascinated by the intricacies of this rare and complex disease. Yet it also was the type of people she met while treating it — people like her father — that made her even more determined to challenge it aggressively.
Mesothelioma is a disease most often caused by occupational exposure to asbestos, something she related to with the way she was raised.
“These were people who worked all their lives, did physical labor. Many of the men are the typical, stoic American male, really good people,” she said. “I just really enjoy seeing them, helping them.”
As chairman of the Clinical Cancer Research Mesothelioma Subcommittee, Kindler is responsible for overseeing and helping design clinical trials at multiple centers.
In Chicago, she is the primary investigator of four different mesothelioma clinical trials today that either are recruiting or still active but not recruiting patients.
Among those trials is one involving the use of Keytruda (pembrolizumab), a novel immunotherapy drug getting sustained and prolonged response in other cancers when combined with aggressive surgery. The trial has attracted patients from around the country.
Kindler has contributed to more than 80 published articles. She is an associate editor of Lung Cancer. She is annually listed in Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors for Cancer.
She graduated from State University of New York Buffalo Medical School. She did an internship at the UCLA Medical Center and a residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she was first introduced to the treatment of mesothelioma.
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