Department of Pediatrics
Section of Hematology-Oncology
Baylor College of Medicine
Dr. Heidi Russell
6701 Fannin Street, Suite 1510
Houston, TX 77030
Dr. Heidi Russell is a physician at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Dr. Russell’s primary interest lies in the treatment and understanding of neuroblastoma tumors. Dr. Russell provides clinical care to children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer malignancies and specializes in the treatment of neuroblastoma and solid tumors. She is an active member of both the Neuroblastoma Program and the Solid Tumor Programs.
Neuroblastoma is the third most common childhood malignancy; about half of the children affected have advanced disease and a poor prognosis. We have multiple clinical trials for this disease open at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and are in the process of designing more.
Dr. Heidi Russell is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She completed her internship, residency, and fellowship training at Baylor College of Medicine. She is a board certified physician-specialist in pediatric hematology/oncology. Dr. Russell graduated from the University of Texas, School of Public Health, where she received her Doctorate of Philosophy.
She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in Hematology/Oncology.
In 2017, Dr. Russell was appointed to a Texas Health and Human Services Clinical Champions’ advisory team charged with reviewing possible metrics for pay-for-performance on the future rounds of Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment under Medicaid.
Dr. Heidi Russell’s area of research is the healthcare costs of childhood cancer. Her studies aim to identify areas of treatment that could be more efficient while providing the best care for children. Some of her work includes directly comparing costs of different treatments. Other ongoing projects focus on the care children receive in hospitals and how this care has changed over time.
Dr. Russell’s primary interest lies in the treatment and understanding of neuroblastoma tumors. Neuroblastoma is the third most common childhood malignancy; about half of the children affected have advanced disease and a poor prognosis. We have multiple clinical trials for this disease open at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and are in the process of designing more.
Vaccines for neuroblastoma have been under study for several years and Texas Children’s Cancer Center and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy has one of the better-known tumor vaccine programs in the country. Dr. Russell is currently the clinical investigator on the open trial, and working with the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy to prepare for the next set of studies.
Neuroblastoma commonly metastasizes to the bone marrow, Dr. Russell is interested in understanding why this happens. In particular, she has initiated investigations into chemokine receptors that appear to play a role in this phenomenon. Homing of tumor cells to bone and bone marrow appears to follow the same mechanism used by hematopoietic stem cells: the chemokine/chemokine receptor pair of stromal derived factor 1 (SDF-1), found in bone marrow, and CXCR4, a receptor expressed by a variety of cell types. Disruption of SDF-1/CXCR4 homeostasis results in mobilization of stem cells into the periphery; this disruption can be caused by the growth factor granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). Cell lines from two types of pediatric solid tumors, neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma, have been shown to express CXCR4 and to migrate towards an SDF-1 gradient suggesting that these tumor cells may behave in a fashion similar to hematopoietic stem cells (HSC’s). Dr. Russell’s preliminary studies suggest that the level of CXCR4 expression in neuroblastoma primary tumors correlates with the probability of bone marrow metastasis. The SDF-1/CXCR4 chemokine/receptor couple determines the localization of metastatic tumor cells in pediatric malignancies and should be considered in treatment design and therapeutic target selection.
MD, University of Alabama School of Medicine
Internship, Residency and Fellowship, Baylor College of Medicine
PhD, University of Texas, School of Public Health