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Medicine Monday: Richard O’reilly, Md


For over 40 years, Dr. Richard J. O’Reilly has been in the business of saving children’s lives. A long-time leader in the fight against childhood cancer, Dr. O’Reilly has served as the Claire Tow Chair in Pediatric Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) since 2001. In this role, Dr. O’Reilly conducts clinical and laboratory research on childhood cancer and bone marrow transplants.

Dr. O’Reilly began his pediatrics career at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston as a resident in 1968. In 1973, he helped perform the first transplant of bone marrow from an unrelated donor to a patient. This breakthrough meant that patients without a matched sibling could still receive a transplant. Today, most bone marrow transplants are from unrelated donors.

Already a prominent voice in the field, Dr. O’Reilly was appointed the director and chief of the Transplant Program in Pediatrics at MSK in 1976. A decade later, he became the chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at MSK, a position he held for over 30 years.

His current research as the Claire Tow Chair in Pediatric Oncology focuses on cellular therapies that protect bone marrow transplant recipients from serious infections and cancers.

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