UAMS’ van Rhee Receives Award for Castleman Disease

By Ben Boulden

CDCN was established in 2012 to accelerate research and treatment for Castleman Disease — a rare disease of lymph nodes and related tissues caused by overgrowth of the cells in the body’s lymphatic system — through global collaboration, strategic investment in high impact research, and patient engagement.

The Scientific Advisory Board of the CDCN includes 28 experts representing eight countries — the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Norway, Japan, France, New Zealand and China.

Presenting the award to van Rhee was David Fajgenbaum, M.D., M.B.A., an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder & executive director of CDCN.

Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D.

Frits van Rhee, M.D., Ph.D.

“He has been the leader in the field of Castleman Disease for over a decade,” said Fajgenbaum. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have Dr. van Rhee as my doctor. As a patient he saved my life three times, and as a fellow medical professional I can say with 100 percent certainty that I have never met or interacted with another physician that is anything like Dr. van Rhee. He is the ultimate care provider and the ultimate doctor.”

“It was a true honor to receive this award from the CDCN,” said van Rhee. “The CDCN has drawn much-needed attention to Castleman Disease, which affects 6,500 to 7,700 new patients each year in the U.S. They face tremendous treatment challenges. It is rewarding as a physician to work with these brave patients.”

Van Rhee is a professor of medicine in the College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. He is also the director of developmental and translational medicine at the UAMS Myeloma Institute.

Van Rhee earned his medical degree from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands, and his Ph.D. at the Imperial College of Science, Medicine and Technology, University of London. He trained in Internal Medicine and Hematology in the UK, and in Bone Marrow Transplantation at John Radcliffe University Hospital in Oxford and the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London. He is a fellow in the American College of Physicians.

At UAMS he holds the Charles & Clydene Scharlau Chair for Hematological Malignancies. Prior to joining UAMS, van Rhee was an associate professor of medicine and director of cellular immunotherapy and translational research at the University of South Carolina and a fellow at the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Van Rhee treats patients with multiple myeloma and related hematologic malignancies. He is considered an international expert on Castleman Disease and has one of the largest populations of Castleman Disease patients in the world. Van Rhee is a leading innovator in immunotherapy research and clinical applications. He has been the principal investigator of National Institutes of Health grants studying Natural Killer cell activity via cellular and vaccine-based approaches in myeloma.

Van Rhee is a member of the International Society for Cellular Therapy, the International Society for Experimental Hematology, the European Group for Bone and Marrow Transplantation, the Royal College of Physicians (UK), the Royal College of Pathologists (UK), and the American Society of Hematology.