Khan honored for her work with rare blood cancer

University of Illinois Cancer Center member Irum Khan was one of eight health care professionals, researchers, patient advocates and caregivers to receive a Hero Award at CURE magazine’s seventh annual MPN Heroes Award banquet. Khan received the award at a ceremony that coincided with the 61st ASH (American Society of Hematology) annual meeting held in Orlando, Florida.

Khan, MD, assistant professor of hematology/oncology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, is a specialist in MPNs (a rare group of blood cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms) and related diseases. She has “dedicated herself to helping patients living with MPNs and patients without resources to independently manage their own care,” said CURE Media Group, the nation’s leading digital and print media enterprise focused on cancer patients.

In her practice, Khan oversees several clinical trials testing novel therapies in MPNs and works with social workers, charitable organizations and medical foundations to help her patients manage hidden costs of extended care like transportation and nutrition. She has also made it her mission to ensure every person living with MPN manage not only their symptoms, but also any psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety.

“It is very important that all racial and ethnic groups are represented in the MPN published data,” Khan said. “I love that I get to work every day with a dedicated team of nurses, clinical research staff, social workers, nutritionists, and physical therapists all deeply committed to the cause of health equity and trying to make sure our patients are never left behind in the rapidly advancing field of hematologic malignancies.

“Working at a minority-serving institution allows us to identify and report ethnoracial differences in the clinical complications and manifestations of this disease group which is hypothesis generating.”

Khan is also active with her local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and is a regularly featured speaker at educational events for patients and their families affected by MPNs.

The MPN Heroes Recognition Program is sponsored by Incyte Corporation and CURE Media Group, publishers of CURE magazine. The honorees were nominated by colleagues, patients, and caregivers for their heroic contributions and dedication. They were selected by an independent judging panel comprised of patient advocates and healthcare professionals.

“We look forward to the opportunity to recognize people who dedicate their careers, their lives, to helping patients,” said Erik Lohrmann, vice president of CURE Media Group, which is part of MJH Life Sciences, at the awards banquet. “It renews our perspective, reminding us why we entered the health care field. The collective passion, dedication and commitment of our 2019 class of heroes is inspirational, to say the least.”

Khan, who is also co-chair of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium’s Myeloid Malignancies Clinical Trial Working Group, was nominated by a former trainee, Maryam Zia, MD.

“I am deeply honored to be nominated and selected to receive this award,” Khan said. “In academia we are all dedicated to teaching and molding the next generation of physicians. Being recognized and honored by one of them is the greatest reward a faculty member could hope for.”

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