John Molina, MD

Associate Staff
Leukemia and Myeloid Disorders Division
Cleveland Clinic
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University
Developmental Therapeutics Program
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

Despite significant advances in outcomes over the last three decades for patients diagnosed with hematologic malignancies, the overall survival rates for adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients have remained relatively stagnant. As a part of the Leukemia and Myeloid Disorders Division at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF), my research focuses on the improvement of clinical outcomes for AYA patients with high-risk acute leukemia including relapsed/refractory disease. My primary focus is expanding the available CAR trials at CCF and, more importantly, the development of novel CAR-T therapies for phase I clinical trials.

As a clinical fellow and Associate Investigator under the mentorship of Dr. Nirali Shah, I was previously involved in the treatment and management of pediatric and AYA patients on three investigator initiated phase I/II CAR-T cell clinical trials at the NIH, including CD22 and CD19/22 CAR-T cells for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and a CD33 CAR-T cell construct for relapsed/refractory acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Currently, I am collaborating with the Melenhorst Lab to develop novel CAR-T therapies for ALL, AML, and CMML with hopes of opening first in human trials at CCF within 3-5 years.

In addition to my experience in clinical trial design/implementation and the management of toxicities from novel cellular therapies, I am also interested in analyzing the barriers and limitations of current immunotherapy options (commercial and experimental) for acute leukemia, the late effects and long-term toxicities of CAR-T therapy, and how to best optimize cellular and immunotherapy sequencing for improved clinical outcomes.

Ultimately, I aim to establish myself as a leader in the use of immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of high-risk hematologic malignancies in AYA patients with the goal of closing the existing outcomes gap. I plan to build on my current clinical and research experience to translate, develop, and implement future early phase clinical trials involving CAR-T cell therapy and antibody-based targeting.