Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD

Section Chief, Hematologic Malignancies

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Contact Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


CTRB Room 4018 3501 Civic Center Blvd


Dr. Aplenc's research involves molecular epidemiology, pediatric cancer Phase I clinical trials, treatment of pediatric AML, and the use of genetic polymorphism data to predict treatment response to therapeutic interventions, particularly in pediatric cancer therapy.


Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (2008 – 2011)
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2002 – 2008)
Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (2011– present)


PhD, Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania (2011)
MSCE, Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania (2002)
MD, University of Virginia (1994)
A.B., Classics, Princeton University (1988)

Extended Bio

I have several areas of clinical and research focus. Currently, my primary focus is on the treatment of pediatric myeloid leukemia (AML). As a young physician, one of my first patients had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Her diagnosis, treatment, subsequent relapse and untimely death made such an impression on me that I decided to focus on the disease.

My research involves the treatment of AML in children and the use of genetic data to predict treatment response to therapeutic interventions. I am the Vice-Chair of AAML0531 and the Study Chair for AAML1031. These are large, Phase III trials for patients with newly diagnosed AML in the Children’s Oncology Group. Together, these trials will treat more than 2,000 children with AML with the newest available therapies.

My research focuses on improving the outcomes of children with cancer, particularly AML. I am currently leading a genome-wide genotyping effort to discover genetic variations that change the risks of relapse, life-threatening infections, and heart complications in children treated for AML. I am also leading several efforts to use administrative data sets to improve the care of children with AML, particularly focusing on antibiotic and intensive care use.

In addition to this work, I also lead Phase I trials I for children whose cancers have not responded to standard therapy. These trials include gemtuzumab, dasatinib and obatoclax. I am also the Primary Investigator at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for multiple Phase I trials that are offered through the Children’s Oncology Group. I also help lead the Hematologic Malignancies Program and Experimental Therapeutics Program here at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Children's Hospital has a long tradition that embraces the total care of patients and their families. Every child receiving complex cancer therapy needs the expertise of more than one provider. That's why I work with our other Children's Hospital physicians, nurses and social workers to provide a team approach to total care. This kind of collaboration with the family and patient helps our team provide the best, most modern and sophisticated care -- not only nationally, but in the world.

Personally, I believe that families need their physicians to be clear, straight forward and honest -- from the time of initial diagnosis to daily interactions in clinic or hospital. My goal is to communicate clearly and precisely to provide a good understanding of the medical condition, the best treatment choices for each child, and the potential and risks of treatment options. In short, I try to provide the care I would want my family to receive.


Selected Publications

Lothstein K., Fisher B. T., Li Y., Seif A., Harris T., Torp K., Kavcic M., Huang Y. S., Rheingold S. R., Aplenc R.. Zoonotic infections in pediatric patients with acute leukemia. Pediatr Blood Cancer. Vol 60(12) . 2013 Dec:E160-2.
Fraser C., Brown P., Megason G., Ahn H. S., Cho B., Kirov I., Frankel L., Aplenc R.,. Open-label Bendamustine Monotherapy for Pediatric Patients With Relapsed or Refractory Acute Leukemia: Efficacy and Tolerability. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2013 Oct:[Epub ahead of print].
de Blank P., Zaoutis T., Fisher B. T., Troxel A., Kim J., Aplenc R.. Trends in Clostridium difficile Infection and Risk Factors for Hospital Acquisition of Clostridium difficile among Children with Cancer.. The Journal of pediatrics. Vol 163(3) . 2013 Sep:699-705e1.
Johnston D. L., Nagarajan R., Caparas M., Schulte F., Cullen P., Aplenc R., Sung L.. Reasons for Non-Completion of Health Related Quality of Life Evaluations in Pediatric Acute Myeloid Leukemia: A Report from the Children's Oncology Group. PLoS One. Vol 8(9) . 2013 Sep:e74549.
Fisher B. T., Gerber J. S., Leckerman K. H., Seif A. E., Huang Y. S., Li Y., Harris T., Torp K., Rheam D., Shah A., Walker D., Aplenc R.. Variation in Hospital Antibiotic Prescribing Practices for Children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Leuk Lymphoma. Vol 54(8) . 2013 Aug:1633-9.
Fisher B.T., Singh S., Huang Y.S., Li Y., Gregory J., Walker D., Seif A.E., Kavcic M., Aplenc R... Induction mortality, ATRA administration, and resource utilization in a nationally representative cohort of children with acute promyelocytic leukemia in the United States from 1999 to 2009. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2013 July:[Epub ahead of print].
Kavcic M. Fisher B. T., Seif A. E., Li Y., Huang Y. S., Walker D., Aplenc R.. Leveraging Administrative Data to Monitor Rituximab Use in 2875 Patients at 42 Freestanding Children's Hospitals across the United States.. The Journal of pediatrics. Vol 162(6) . 2013 June:1252-8.
Teachey D. T., Rheingold S. R., Maude S. L., Zugmaier G., Barrett D. M., Seif A. E., Nichols K. E., Suppa E. K., Kalos M., Berg R. A., Fitzgerald J. C., Aplenc R., Gore L., Grupp S. A.. Cytokine release syndrome after blinatumomab treatment related to abnormal macrophage activation and ameliorated with cytokine directed therapy.. Blood. Vol 121(26) . 2013 June:5154-7.
Hagleitner M. M., Coenen M. J., Aplenc R., Patiño-Garcia A., Chiusolo P., Gemmati D., De Mattei M., Ongaro A., Krajinovic M., Hoogerbrugge P. M., Vermeulen S. H., Te Loo D. M.. The role of the MTHFR 677C>T polymorphism in methotrexate-induced liver toxicity: a meta-analysis in patients with cancer. The Pharmacogenomics Journal. 2013 May:[Epub ahead of print].
Kavcic M., Fisher B. T., Li Y., Seif A., Torp K., Walker D. M., Huang Y. S., Lee G. H., Tasian S. K., Vujkovic M., Bagatell R., Aplenc R.. Induction Mortality and Resource Utilization in Children Treated for Acute Myeloid Leukemia at Free-Standing Pediatric Hospitals in the United States. Cancer. Vol 119(10) . 2013 May:916-23.