Nadine H. Abdallah, M.D.

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

I was 15 when my aunt was diagnosed with lymphoma. At that time, I witnessed the effects of the diagnosis on our family and observed the chemotherapy changing her features over time. I remember the feelings of despair that my family and I experienced. A year later, I heard the word "cure" and was amazed at the power of medicine and the hope that it brought back to our lives.

Since then, I have seen the roles of clinicians at different stages of our lives, easing our pains, supporting us through illnesses and helping us accept serious diagnoses. These experiences shaped my decision to become a clinician, which matured over the years as I developed a love for biological sciences and a passion for cancer research.

What motivated you to become a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar?

During my hematology and oncology fellowship training, I started caring for older patients with multiple myeloma. I was able to appreciate the heterogeneity in baseline functional and physiological states, even among people of the same age. As I followed them through their treatment journeys, I witnessed their diverse experiences and outcomes. These observations highlighted the need for a personalized treatment approach. They inspired my current research focus of evaluating frailty and studying its prognostic impact in older patients with multiple myeloma.

Through my interactions with other Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars and with mentors within the Kern Scholar Program, I realized that the trainee program will provide me with the resources and methodological skills needed to design and conduct high-quality research. This in turn will allow me to serve this population and contribute to efforts to reduce disparities in outcomes for older patients with hematologic malignancies.

What is your focus and goal as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

My research project aims to evaluate the association between comprehensive geriatric assessment, treatment-related toxicity and quality of life in older patients with multiple myeloma. This will allow an understanding of the factors that influence outcomes of older patients with multiple myeloma. It also will provide a rationale for the integration of geriatric assessment into routine practice.

My ultimate goal is to help establish a geriatric hematology clinic and to use the information gained from these assessments to inform decision-making and guide discussions with patients and caregivers. The resources available in the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program, the acquired skills, and the long-term connections with mentors and staff in the center will help make these goals possible.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

I am fortunate to have a strong mentoring team supporting my research project and my training through the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program:

  • Shaji Kumar, M.D., is my primary mentor. Dr. Kumar is an internationally recognized expert in multiple myeloma. Dr. Kumar has mentored me over the last three years, and we have conducted several clinical projects in the field of myeloma. I will benefit greatly from his continued mentorship and expertise in multiple myeloma and clinical study design and implementation.
  • Terri L. Menser, Ph.D., has a long track record of mentorship and collaboration with physicians. She provides methodological expertise that will support the design, implementation and analysis phases of my study and will help me acquire knowledge and skills in various areas of health services research.
  • Jad Sfeir, M.D., M.S., holds dual appointments in the divisions of endocrinology and geriatrics. His expertise in the evaluation and treatment of frailty is of great value to the design and conduct of my study.
  • Rahma Warsame, M.D., is an alumnus of the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program. I will benefit greatly from her expertise in multiple myeloma and in patient-reported outcomes and quality-of-life measures.

How will your research transform or improve patient care or affect public health?

Results from my team's study will contribute to an understanding of the association between specific comprehensive geriatric assessment domains and treatment tolerance and quality of life. Such information can help identify patients with increased risk of treatment toxicity. This will enable patients to make more informed treatment decisions and allow health care professional to implement supportive measures for vulnerable patients.

Ultimately, information gained from this research and similar studies can aid in developing personalized treatment plans to minimize adverse outcomes. It also can help promote frailty-targeted interventional studies aimed at reducing disparity in outcomes between older and younger patients with cancer.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

The clinical and research training, the Mayo culture, and the patient-centered care. I have been fortunate to complete my fellowship training at Mayo Clinic, where the resources, mentorship and training are unparalleled and where there is support for diverse research goals and career paths.

Tell us three words that describe you.

Collegial, goal-directed, compassionate.

Outside of work, what is one thing you like to do?

Outside of work, I love spending time with my 8-month-old son and my husband. We love the outdoors and canoeing in the Minnesota lakes. We also love trying new restaurants every week.