Dr. Hedy Lee Kindler is the Medical Director of Gastrointestinal Oncology and Director of the Mesothelioma Program at the University of Chicago Medicine. The internationally recognized cancer expert specializes in the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (which form in the wall of the digestive tract) and pancreatic cancer, in addition to malignant mesothelioma. Kindler treats patients at both the University of Chicago Medicine and the adjacent Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, is involved in research into new cancer treatments, is an associate professor of medicine, and serves as an associate editor of the journal Lung Cancer.
Despite Kindler’s many professional responsibilities, she still manages to see more than 100 patients with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma each year, many of them travelling from far-away countries. She was awarded the prestigious Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization in 2010 and is regularly listed in Top Doctors in Chicago, America’s Top Doctors for Cancer, and Best Doctors in America. She also travels extensively, sharing her expertise on the latest treatments for asbestos-related diseases with medical experts worldwide.
For Kindler, the fight against mesothelioma is very personal. Just two years after taking on a leadership position at University of Chicago Medicine’s Mesothelioma Program, her father passed away from the deadly disease. Her father’s legacy – and the compassion she feels for all of her patients – fuels her passion and commitment to researching better treatments and providing personalized care. Since it’s such a rare disease, with roughly 3,000 diagnoses in the U.S. annually, most physicians and medical clinics are ill-equipped and lack the specialized knowledge required to combat it. Kindler is one of a handful of internationally recognized mesothelioma experts, which is why she maintains such a heavy caseload.
With a focus on malignant mesothelioma, much of Kindler’s research explores novel new drug therapies, such as those used for chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, photodynamic therapy, and hormone therapy. While only two chemotherapy drugs have been approved by the FDA for use in treating mesothelioma, Kindler’s patients have access to new, experimental drugs through clinical trials or compassionate-use programs. Embracing the promising “multi-nodal” approach to mesothelioma, in which different procedures and drugs are used in various combinations specific to the patient’s particular needs, Kindler’s goal is to turn mesothelioma into a chronic disease rather than a terminal one. With personalized treatments, she and her colleagues believe they can substantially reduce mortality in patients while helping them maintain a consistent quality of life.
Kindler earned her medical degree from the State University of New York in Buffalo, completed her residency and internship at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, and served a fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, having started her professional practice in 1995. She served two terms as president of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (2006-2010) and serves on the Science Advisory Board of the Mesothelioma Foundation.
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