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Omar S. Aljitawi, M.B.B.S.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Appointment: (585) 275-5823

URMFGA member of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group

groupAn Accountable Health Partner

assignmentAccepting New Patients

Faculty Appointments

Patient Care Setting

Cancer

Biography

I am committed to providing my patients complete medical care that takes into account their physical and emotional wellbeing. When I approach my patients, I think of them as a whole, a person behind the story. I enjoy and cherish this special relationship and I always strive to give my patients the best care.

I believe that knowledge is power; I want my patients to be informed when they make decisions that involve their care and their lives. I achieve that by discussing the patient's case with the patient's referring oncologist and by consulting with my colleagues at Wilmot Cancer Center or at other institutions.

I am a firm believer that physician-patient trust is important to deliver effective and complete medical care. This trust develops based on the patient's own experience dealing with their medical team. My goal is to work closely with our medical team to help our patients deal with their illnesses.

My goal in choosing a career in treating cancer patients is to "make a difference" in their lives. I do that not only by doing my best to take care of my patients, but also by researching new ways to help our patients. Our current treatments are not optimal and certainly can be improved to help our patients have better outcomes, which is my ultimate goal in my research career.

Research

Dr. Aljitawi's laboratory is primarily focused on studying the human hematopoietic stem cells and their interaction with their microenvironment. He utilizes this knowledge in studying translational research concepts that apply to patient care. Dr. Aljitawi's work has involved umbilical cord blood stem cells, Wharton's jelly mesenchymal stromal cells, Wharton's jelly matrix, and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Dr. Aljitawi's main projects are:

1.Studying umbilical cord blood (UCB) CD34+ cell interaction with erythropoietin (EPO) as a soluble factor in UCB CD34+ microenvironment. Dr. Aljitawi has been investigating EPO signaling through EPO receptor (EPOR) effects on UCB CD34+ cell homing and engraftment. Dr. Aljitawi and his research team discovered that exposure to erythropoietin impairs UCB CD34+ cell homing to the bone marrow. To translate this finding to patient care, Dr. Aljitawi and his research team investigated the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) as a modality to lower systemic EPO with the aim of improving UCB CD34+ cell homing and engraftment. This work in its entirety was recently published in Blood.

2. Developing in vitro 3D leukemia and myeloma models for chemotherapy drug testing: Dr. Aljitawi's lab has developed a 3D stromal-based co-culture model to grow leukemia and myeloma cells with stromal cells and used it to test the sensitivity of these cancer cells to chemotherapy. More recently, his lab has focused on studying decellularized Wharton's jelly matrix to create an extracellular matrix-based model to test leukemia cell responses to chemotherapy.

3. Studying the interactions between Wharton's jelly mesenchymal stromal cells and Wharton's jelly decellularized matrix for tissue regenerative medicine applications. Dr. Aljitawi's has been studying decellularized Wharton's jelly matrix as a scaffolding material for tissue regenerative applications, including wound and bone healing.

Credentials

Specialties

  • Hematology - American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Internal Medicine - American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Medical Oncology

Education

1999
MBBS | University of Jordan School Of Medicine

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

07/01/2007 - 06/30/2008
Fellowship in Bone Marrow Transplant at City of Hope Medical Center

07/01/2004 - 06/03/2007
Fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at University of Kansas Medical Center

07/01/2002 - 06/30/2004
Residency in Internal Medicine at East Tennessee State University

01/01/2001 - 06/30/2002
Internship in Internal Medicine at East Tennessee State University

01/01/1999 - 12/31/2000
Internship in Internal Medicine at Al-Bashir Hospital

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Awards

2014
Faculty Travel Award to present Abstract Poster
Sponsor: 12th International Cord Blood Symposium

2011
Faculty Travel Award to Present Abstract
Sponsor: American Society of Oncology

2010
2010 Best Abstract Award
Sponsor: 2011 BMT Tandem Meetings

2006
Karl & Irene Eisemann Fellowship Award for best Hematology Paper

2004
Caduceus Award Nominee
Sponsor: ETSU Students
Location: East Tennessee State University

2002
First Place Award, residents/fellows division, 18th Annual Student Research Forum, James H. Quillen College of Medicine
Location: East Tennessee State University

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Clinical Trials

A Pilot Study to Determine the Safety and Efficacy of Incorporating Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Into RIC Fludarabine and Melphalan and Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Transplantation

Lead Researcher: Omar S Aljitawi

Subjects with Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) who are considered eligible for allogeneic stem cell transplant by the transplant team at WCI (Wilmot Cancer Institute) will be enrolled in the study. Patients will receive Melphalan on day -2 and HBO (Hyperbaric Oxygen) therapy on day 0 of the transplant. After neutrophil recovery is documented, the patients will be seen in clinic at least weekly through day +100.

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Multicenter safety study of unlicensed, investigational cryopreserved cord blood units (CBUs) manufactured by National Cord Blood Program (NCBP) and provided for unrelated hematopoietic stem cell transplantation of pediatric and adult patients

Lead Researcher: Omar S Aljitawi

The purpose of this study is to document and evaluate all problems that may occur with the use of investigational cord blood units. This study will evaluate the safety of administration of the investigational cord blood units by carefully documenting all infusion-related problems. The cord blood units in this study have been collected, processed, tested and stored by the National Cord Blood Program and meet the criteria for transplantation as approved by NetCord-FACT (Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy).

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Phase II Hyperbaric Oxygen in Improving Engraftment in Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplantation

Lead Researcher: Omar S Aljitawi

Umbilical Cord Blood (UCB) as a graft source for a bone marrow transplant has drawbacks related to the limited cell dose available for transplant and defects in homing. Homing is the process of UCB stem cell lodging in the bone marrow. If the homing is not efficient it could delay the re-population of the stem cells (or engraftment), possibly lead to engraftment failure, and delay the rebuilding of the immune system after transplant. This could, in turn, provide a higher risk to infection after the UCB transplant. This research study is aimed at investigating the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy prior to the UCB transplant to find out if it will improve the stem cell homing, and subsequently, the engraftment. HBO therapy involves breathing 100% pure oxygen while in a sealed chamber that has been pressurized at 2 ½ times the normal atmospheric pressure. There is a specific hormone which tells stem cells in the bone marrow to make more red blood cells. This hormone (called EPO) is increased when blood oxygen levels are low. When the EPO is increased, it might impair the bone marrow homing process of your transplant. Therefore, the researchers conducting this study hope to determine if providing 100% pure oxygen to you prior to your UCB transplant will decrease this hormone, and in turn, improve the homing process after your transplant.

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A Randomized Phase II Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen in Improving Blood Count Recovery in Autologous Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cell Transplantation for Multiple Myeloma

Lead Researcher: Omar S Aljitawi

Patients with Multiple Myeloma who are considered for high-dose therapy and autologous transplantation at the bone marrow transplant clinic at the Wilmot Cancer Institute (WCI) will be be approached to participate in this trial. Eligible patients who choose to participate will be randomized so that half receive one hyperbaric oxygen therapy session prior to hematopoetic stem cell infusion and half will not. All subjects will have their blood counts monitored closely and time to count recovery will be compared between the two groups.

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Umbilical Cord Blood Transplantation from Unrelated Donors

Lead Researcher: Omar S Aljitawi

This study is a single-center treatment protocol with four possible preparative regimens, designed to validate the process of umbilical cord blood stem cell transplantation at our institution. Enrolled patients will receive chemotherapy +/- total body radiation as a pre-transplant conditioning regimen. Patients will then receive cord blood stem cells followed by prevention drugs for graft versus host disease. Multiple data points will be collected prior to, during, and following transplantation to ensure safety of the process and to evaluate the stated objectives.

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Publications

Journal Articles

6/28/2020
Elad S, Aljitawi O, Zadik Y. "Oral graft-versus-host disease: a pictorial review and a guide for dental practitioners." International dental journal.. 2020 Jun 28; Epub 2020 Jun 28.

6/11/2020
Liesveld JL, Sharma N, Aljitawi OS. "Stem Cell Homing: From Physiology to Therapeutics." Stem cells.. 2020 Jun 11; Epub 2020 Jun 11.

2/2020
Mina A, Aljitawi OS. "Use of hyperbaric oxygen in hematopoietic cell transplantation to aid post-transplant recovery." Journal of comparative effectiveness research.. 2020 Feb 0; 9(3):149-153. Epub 2020 Jan 29.

Books & Chapters

2017
Chapter Title: Wharton's jelly matrix decellularization for tissue engineering applications
Book Title: Decellularized Scaffolds and Organogenesis
Author List: Converse, G.L; Li, D; E. Buse, E.E.; Hopkins, R.A.; and Aljitawi, O.S.
Published By: Springer Protocols 2017

2005
Chapter Title: The human Mast Cell
Book Title: Mast Cells, Methods and Protocols
Author List: Guha Krishnaswamy, Omar Aljitawi, and David S. Chi.
Published By: Humana Press 2005

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