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Kara Davis, DO

  • Kara Davis
  • “Seeing patients thrive and achieve their dreams is the most rewarding part of this work.”

As an undergraduate student, I was involved with childhood cancer research. There I met Fern, a little girl with a brain tumor. That experience left a lasting impression on me. I continued to medical school and studied hematology and oncology because of the connection I felt to the children I had met.

We are all working towards a common goal — curing each child of cancer. My role is to coach, advise and guide the decisions and care that will help us to reach that goal. I do this by caring for and respecting the autonomy of each patient and family. I'm proud that we support both the child and the entire family as they go through the process of treatment.

I recently received an email from a young girl who was successfully treated for acute myeloid leukemia. She was 14 when diagnosed and faced her difficult treatment with grace and humor, wearing hot pink wigs while hospitalized. She's now a freshman at NYU and attached a photo of herself in Washington Square Park in New York City. Seeing patients thrive and achieve their dreams after battling leukemia is the most rewarding part of this work.

Specialties

Hematology-Oncology

Work and Education

Professional Education

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 06/2004

Residency

Thomas Jefferson University/AI duPont Hospital, Wilmington, DE, 07/2007

Fellowship

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Palo Alto, CA, 07/2010

Board Certifications

Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, American Board of Pediatrics

Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics

Services

Oncology

All Publications

Data-Driven Phenotypic Dissection of AML Reveals Progenitor-like Cells that Correlate with Prognosis CELL Levine, J. H., Simonds, E. F., Bendall, S. C., Davis, K. L., Amir, E. D., Tadmor, M. D., Litvin, O., Fienberg, H. G., Jager, A., Zunder, E. R., Finck, R., Gedman, A. L., Radtke, I., Downing, J. R., Pe'er, D., Nolan, G. P. 2015; 162 (1): 184-197

Abstract

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) manifests as phenotypically and functionally diverse cells, often within the same patient. Intratumor phenotypic and functional heterogeneity have been linked primarily by physical sorting experiments, which assume that functionally distinct subpopulations can be prospectively isolated by surface phenotypes. This assumption has proven problematic, and we therefore developed a data-driven approach. Using mass cytometry, we profiled surface and intracellular signaling proteins simultaneously in millions of healthy and leukemic cells. We developed PhenoGraph, which algorithmically defines phenotypes in high-dimensional single-cell data. PhenoGraph revealed that the surface phenotypes of leukemic blasts do not necessarily reflect their intracellular state. Using hematopoietic progenitors, we defined a signaling-based measure of cellular phenotype, which led to isolation of a gene expression signature that was predictive of survival in independent cohorts. This study presents new methods for large-scale analysis of single-cell heterogeneity and demonstrates their utility, yielding insights into AML pathophysiology.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2015.05.047

View details for Web of Science ID 000357542300019

Single-Cell Trajectory Detection Uncovers Progression and Regulatory Coordination in Human B Cell Development CELL Bendall, S. C., Davis, K. L., Amir, E. D., Tadmor, M. D., Simonds, E. F., Chen, T. J., Shenfeld, D. K., Nolan, G. P., Pe'er, D. 2014; 157 (3): 714-725

Abstract

Tissue regeneration is an orchestrated progression of cells from an immature state to a mature one, conventionally represented as distinctive cell subsets. A continuum of transitional cell states exists between these discrete stages. We combine the depth of single-cell mass cytometry and an algorithm developed to leverage this continuum by aligning single cells of a given lineage onto a unified trajectory that accurately predicts the developmental path de novo. Applied to human B cell lymphopoiesis, the algorithm (termed Wanderlust) constructed trajectories spanning from hematopoietic stem cells through to naive B cells. This trajectory revealed nascent fractions of B cell progenitors and aligned them with developmentally cued regulatory signaling including IL-7/STAT5 and cellular events such as immunoglobulin rearrangement, highlighting checkpoints across which regulatory signals are rewired paralleling changes in cellular state. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of human B lymphopoiesis, laying a foundation to apply this approach to other tissues and "corrupted" developmental processes including cancer.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2014.04.005

View details for Web of Science ID 000335392100019

viSNE enables visualization of high dimensional single-cell data and reveals phenotypic heterogeneity of leukemia. Nature biotechnology Amir, E. D., Davis, K. L., Tadmor, M. D., Simonds, E. F., Levine, J. H., Bendall, S. C., Shenfeld, D. K., Krishnaswamy, S., Nolan, G. P., Pe'er, D. 2013; 31 (6): 545-552

Abstract

New high-dimensional, single-cell technologies offer unprecedented resolution in the analysis of heterogeneous tissues. However, because these technologies can measure dozens of parameters simultaneously in individual cells, data interpretation can be challenging. Here we present viSNE, a tool that allows one to map high-dimensional cytometry data onto two dimensions, yet conserve the high-dimensional structure of the data. viSNE plots individual cells in a visual similar to a scatter plot, while using all pairwise distances in high dimension to determine each cell's location in the plot. We integrated mass cytometry with viSNE to map healthy and cancerous bone marrow samples. Healthy bone marrow automatically maps into a consistent shape, whereas leukemia samples map into malformed shapes that are distinct from healthy bone marrow and from each other. We also use viSNE and mass cytometry to compare leukemia diagnosis and relapse samples, and to identify a rare leukemia population reminiscent of minimal residual disease. viSNE can be applied to any multi-dimensional single-cell technology.

View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2594

View details for PubMedID 23685480

Pediatric Acute Myeloid Leukemia as Classified Using 2008 WHO Criteria A Single-Center Experience AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PATHOLOGY Davis, K. L., Marina, N., Arber, D. A., Ma, L., Cherry, A., Dahl, G. V., Heerema-McKenney, A. 2013; 139 (6): 818-825

Abstract

The classification of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has evolved to the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) schema, which integrates genetic, morphologic, and prognostic data into a single system. However, this system was devised using adult data and how this system applies to a pediatric cohort is unknown. Performing a retrospective chart review, we examined our single-center experience with AML in 115 children and classified their leukemia using the WHO 2008 schema. We examined patient samples for mutations of FLT3, NPM1, and CEBPA. Overall survival was calculated within categories. In our pediatric population, most cases of AML had recurrent genetic abnormalities of favorable prognosis. More than 10% of patients in our series were categorized as AML, with myelodysplasia-related changes, an entity not well-described in pediatric patients. In addition, a large proportion of patients were categorized with secondary, therapy-related AML. To our knowledge, this is the first application of the WHO 2008 classification to a pediatric cohort. In comparison to adult studies, AML in the pediatric population shows a distinct distribution within the WHO 2008 classification.

View details for DOI 10.1309/AJCP59WKRZVNHETN

View details for Web of Science ID 000319302200017

View details for PubMedID 23690127

Ikaros: master of hematopoiesis, agent of leukemia. Therapeutic advances in hematology Davis, K. L. 2011; 2 (6): 359-368

Abstract

Ikaros is the founding member of a family of zinc finger transcription factors whose function during early hematopoietic development is required for differentiation into the three major hematopoietic lineages. Ikaros deletions have been described in human malignancies, particularly precursor B-cell leukemia. Deletions of this transcription factor appear to mediate leukemogenesis, although the exact mechanism is unclear. This article reviews the structure and function of Ikaros proteins in chromatin remodeling and gene expression as well as the current knowledge of Ikaros deletions in human malignancies. A new proteomic platform, mass cytometry, is introduced which allows measurements of greater than 30 parameters at the single-cell level and should thus provide a greater level of detail to unravel the mechanistic consequences of Ikaros dysfunction in leukemia.

View details for DOI 10.1177/2040620711412419

View details for PubMedID 23556102

Speeding the Flow Toward Personalized Therapy in Childhood Acute Leukemia PEDIATRIC BLOOD & CANCER Simonds, E. F., Davis, K. L., Lacayo, N. J. 2009; 53 (4): 525-526

View details for DOI 10.1002/pbc.22180

View details for Web of Science ID 000269295500001

View details for PubMedID 19642213

Why Are Young Infants Tested for Herpes Simplex Virus? PEDIATRIC EMERGENCY CARE Davis, K. L., Shah, S. S., Frank, G., Eppes, S. C. 2008; 24 (10): 673-678

Abstract

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based test to detect herpes simplex virus (HSV) genome in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has become the test of choice for diagnosing this infection. The utility of this test in young infants undergoing sepsis evaluations is unknown.We sought to identify the factors that prompted physicians to include HSV PCR in their evaluation of young infants undergoing lumbar puncture. In addition, the impact of ordering this test on patient management was assessed.This case-control study included infants 0 to 60 days who were evaluated by lumbar puncture at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children over a 5-year period. Case patients had CSF HSV PCR ordered as part of their evaluation and control patients did not.Eighty-eight case patients and 83 control patients were identified. The median patient age was 12 days and most patients (55%) were male. Both groups were similar in demographics. Herpes simplex virus infection was diagnosed by PCR in 3.4% of cases. The occurrence of a seizure (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 8.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-41.0), the performance of CSF enteroviral PCR testing (adjusted OR, 4.7; 95% CI, 1.4-15.8), and the decision to obtain hepatic transaminases (adjusted OR, 5.6; 95% CI, 2.7-11.8) were associated with the decision to perform CSF HSV PCR testing. Use of health care resources associated with PCR testing was considerable.The occurrence of a seizure, the performance of CSF enteroviral PCR testing, and the decision to obtain hepatic transaminases were independently associated with the decision to perform CSF HSV PCR testing. Features traditionally associated with neonatal HSV infection, such as elevated numbers of CSF white blood cells or red blood cells, did not appear to influence the decision to perform CSF HSV PCR testing. The yield of testing in this population was low. Clinicians should weigh the benefits of early diagnosis in a few patients against the consequences of excessive testing in this population.

View details for Web of Science ID 000260157500006

View details for PubMedID 19242136