Christina K. Ullrich, MD, MPH, FAAHPM

Christina Ullrich, MD, MPH, FAAHPM

Senior Physician, Pediatric Palliative Care and Pediatric Hematology Oncolgy, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI)

Attending Physician, Boston Children's Hospital (BCH)

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Educational and professional experience
1990-1994 AB Dartmouth College
1997-2001 MD, Harvard Medical School
2001-2004 Resident in Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Boston
2004-2007 Fellow in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, DFCI/BCH
2005-2007 Fellow in Pediatric Palliative Care, DFCI/BCH
2005-2007 Fellow in Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research Program 

 

Current teaching and research interests

Board Certified in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Ullrich's interests center around improving the care of seriously ill children. Early on, she realized that children who undergo hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), intensive therapy delivered with curative intent, are at high risk for physical and psychological suffering. Her main career aim has since been to optimize the wellbeing of children who undergo HSCT by integrating the principles of pediatric palliative care (PPC) into the care of children undergoing HSCT through a variety of clinical, educational and research undertakings. For example, she developed the first guidelines prompting automatic palliative care consultation for pediatric HSCT patients. Beyond her local efforts, she is a member of the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) Steering Committee for Palliative Care and Co-chairs the ASBMT/National Marrow Donor Program Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Initiative's Physical Health and Fatigue Working Group.

Dr. Ullrich's research agenda is aimed at developing global interventions to ease distress in children undergoing HSCT. She has written some of the first papers on this topic (adult or pediatric), including one that demonstrated that HSCT is associated with significant suffering and little opportunity for end of life preparation and another that described end of life outcomes associated with palliative care consultation. She is currently investigating symptom and health-related quality of life data from children as they progress through transplant. Dr. Ullrich's research in this vein has been supported by a K23 Career Development Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Cancer-related fatigue is another area of interest. Through this research she aims to elucidate determinants of suffering from fatigue and to develop and evaluate of strategies to reduce distress from fatigue. For these efforts she has received two Paper Awards as well as the Young Investigator Award from the AAHPM.

As a physician spanning the realms of PPC and HSCT, she has focused her career on integrating these fields with the ultimate goal of ameliorating suffering in children who undergo HSCT. Whether through expertise and innovation, teaching and education, or research, she always finds it a privilege to contribute to the care of such children and their families and cannot imagine more rewarding or fulfilling work.