Stories from physicians and co-workers
Samantha Jacobs, MD
I am honored to contribute to this testimony to Mission from the Heart and support Dr. Walsh’s endeavors to improve care for immunocompromised children with life threatening infections. I have been privileged to have Dr. Walsh as a mentor for the past six years since the start of my infectious diseases fellowship. Not only is Dr. Walsh dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to his patients, but he is also devoted to training other clinicians to achieve similar standards. He is a deeply kind, warm, and compassionate individual, and I am constantly amazed and inspired by his energy, innovation, and productivity. Despite his vast commitments, when we meet to discuss my career development, Dr. Walsh makes me feel as though he has no other responsibilities in the world. I believe I am a better physician for the clinical and academic guidance and opportunities he has provided me. I am truly grateful for his mentorship and unwavering commitment to patients and colleagues.
Kaiser A. Hussain. M.D.
At times it is hard to say all that must be said in person and I have found that for moments like these, the written word is best.
These past two years have been life changing. The opportunities you have provided me with have been endless. You have truly given me knowledge and guidance in every interaction, from the small pearls you impart during our brief exchanges in the hallway to the much larger lessons often given in your office. You have made me better at every turn. You are by far the busiest individual I know yet when we meet, I feel as if I am the only person that matters to you. You have put forth an incredible amount of effort in helping me to achieve my goals, knowing all the while that there was not much I could give in return. You are what every mentor should be. I hope and pray that all those in need of guidance have the joy of meeting their own “Dr. Walsh”.
Throughout my time in the lab you have not just made me a better doctor but a better human being as well. You have taught me to care for others in a manner like no other. I have witnessed you interacting with patients, colleagues, students, and strangers, and all have received the same amount of care and compassion from you. You treat people, as they are your equals, regardless of who they are. I thank you for allowing me to see and learn these attributes, as they are so rarely present in the world.
Needless to say Dr. Walsh, you have truly inspired me. You are what I hope to be. It has been a tremendous honor to have worked under your guidance and to have had the incredible opportunity of learning from you. Thank you for every second of this experience and most of all, thank you for being the way you are.
With great respect and admiration,
Kaiser A. Hussain, M.D.
Denise Nassisi, M.D.
Words cannot express my gratitude to Dr. Tom Walsh. I am a physician and he saved my 13 year old niece Camille from losing her eye. The medication she received to treat her infection was developed as a result of his scientific work. In and of itself, the medical treatment that Dr. Walsh provided would be cause enough for me to be grateful. However, not only did Dr. Walsh provide cutting-edge world-class care, he was and has remained an incredible advocate and support to all of us throughout the treatment process.
I was devastated to learn that Camille had a serious fusarial fungal keratitis, the prognosis was grim and it was likely to progress to the need for enucleation or removal of her eye. I reached out to colleagues and physician friends for advice regarding referrals for another opinion and expert care. A physician friend recommended Dr. Walsh. I learned that he was one of the most knowledgeable people in the world regarding fungal infections.
Dr. Walsh immediately responded to my plea for help and stayed in constant communication to come up with a treatment plan for Camille. He personally arranged for her hospitalization and gathered a team of experts to treat her. He was just returning on a train from out of town, yet he met us at the hospital emergency department late at night. Despite our worry, his empathy and support gave us comfort. After a discussion with me and Camille’s parents, he knelt down so that he could talk directly to Camille. He promised her that he would be there to help her no matter what, and indeed he was and still is there for her. That first night he stayed at the hospital all night, first until her MRI was done to be sure the infection had not spread to her brain and then to personally oversee that the medication drops were correctly administered by the staff. When her cornea unexpectedly perforated Camille needed an emergency cornea transplant on a Saturday morning. Dr. Walsh went to the operating room to personally make sure that the damaged cornea was correctly processed for fungal cultures.
Throughout Camille’s treatment including several hospitalizations and complications, Dr. Walsh provided compassionate care and served as advocate and liaison between the family and medical team. His medical expertise is unsurpassed and his dedication and compassion are amazing. Thank you Dr. Thomas Walsh.
Denise Nassisi, M.D.
Evan A. Steinberg, M.D.
I am a pediatrician and pediatric infectious disease subspecialist. My practice has been with Southern California Permanente since finishing my infectious disease fellowship in 1977. I believe in the idea of evidence-based medicine, and embraced the concept before the term was coined. However sometimes there is not much evidence on which to base crucial decisions. Therefore I often seek help from experts. Such has been the case with invasive fungal infections in immune suppressed children. There have been limited publications with small sample size and differing study designs, and what is available in print and electronic media is often misleading, out-of-date, or just incorrect, so there is no substitute for consulting with an expert. Dr. Thomas J Walsh is the expert’s expert.
My first encounter with him was hearing him speak many years ago at ICAAC (Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy), an infectious disease meeting with experts from around the world. He gave an encyclopedic presentation on antifungal prophylaxis that changed my thinking about the subject. I was impressed with the extent of his knowledge and the way he explored and clarified the meaningful details in study design and medicine use. Since then he has been my preferred expert for serious fungal infections in my immunocompromised patients, especially infections that involve the central nervous system.
It is exciting to have patients surviving illnesses that have often proved fatal in the past. Newer therapies are part of the reason, but knowing how best to implement them is challenging and of critical importance. Hence the great value of advice from this expert’s expert. He has provided help and insight with my cases for years. I am currently caring for a young child, Emma, who has leukemia and is recovering from an aspergillus brain abscess. Dr. Walsh has been involved in throughout her care and continues to provide guidance regarding secondary prophylaxis. Just as the first time I heard him speak he continues to analyze issues with a vast knowledge base and a subtle awareness of the important details of care, from diagnostic and treatment issues to helping vulnerable children comply with unpalatable medication. His advice and empathy have been invaluable. He has consistently been readily accessible, taking phone calls at even inconvenient times, listening and answering in great detail, sharing his knowledge generously and graciously.
I am grateful to have an opportunity to acknowledge his devotion and to thank him publicly for providing help in caring for very sick children. I endorse most strongly his efforts to expand care and access for such children.
Evan A. Steinberg, M.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC
Southern California Permanente Medical Group
Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA
Carola A. S. Arndt, M.D.
I am writing to add my story to the many moving testimonials already present on your web site regarding my interactions with Dr. Thomas J. Walsh. I have known Dr. Walsh for almost 30 years, having met during my fellowship in Pediatric Oncology at the National Cancer Institute. We developed a close working relationship at that time since we were collaborating on a number of projects involving new antifungal therapy.
Since completing my fellowship at the NCI about 30 years ago, I have continued to be in touch with Dr. Walsh and have not only followed his career but have been involved in a number of research projects with him which I can say are nothing short of extraordinary and of the highest scientific caliber. More importantly, however, he has been available night and day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to help manage occasional extraordinary difficult patients. His fund of knowledge is encyclopedic, his compassion is legendary, and his willingness to share his knowledge and be helpful in managing difficult infections in patients with immunocompromised states has been unwavering.
Dr. Walsh embodies all of the exceptional characteristics which you seek in a physician: dedication, knowledge, experience, compassion, and putting the needs of the patient first. He is certainly an exceptional physician, researcher, and human being. I am sure this impression is shared by all who have had the privilege to know him and work with him.
Carola A. S. Arndt, M.D.
Nicole E. Alexander, MD, MPH
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share publicly the tremendous impact that Dr. Walsh has had in his dedication and brilliance. For several years now, I have appreciated working with Dr. Walsh to care for a few complicated, immunocompromised children with severe fungal infections, deep tissue mucor mycoses most recently and trichosporonosis about two years ago. These are just two examples of life-threatening illness in two precious children that benefited substantially from Dr. Walsh’s expert involvement.
Where do I begin, to express even a portion of my admiration and appreciation for Dr. Walsh, his work ethic, dedication, and the impact he has had on countless lives. Before I even learned of SOS Kids or the Center for Treatment of Immunocompromised Children, I was in awe of and even intrigured by Dr. Walsh’s brilliance as well as commitment. He has expressed involvement in the children we have cared for together that reach far beyond just an expert consultant available by phone for a few questions. Just by the fact that the only way I can describe the services Dr. Walsh offered is as the “children we have cared for together.” You would never know that he has not actually met the patient, because the passion, detailed explanations, and concern for the child and the family alone demonstrate the all-around care Dr. Walsh has provided.
Now the fact that Dr. Walsh is involved with an organization that is working to formalize this gift for children across the country means that so many more miracles like Anna’s story, the patients Dr. Walsh has worked with me on, and countless others are possible! There are so few causes that I feel so strongly about supporting, having seen the benefit and the heart of it manifested first hand.I would be happy to go on as long as needed, and to spread the word as much as is needed to make all aware of this critical, life-changing, and heart-touching service that Dr. Walsh and his colleagues have been dedicated to. I am honored to contribute to showing my undying support today and going forward in any way possible. Thank you, Dr. Walsh!
Nicole E. Alexander, MD, MPH
Brown University – Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Adult-Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Tel: 401-444-8360, Fax: 401-444-5650
Zackary W. Taylor, MD
I am a pediatric infectious disease physician in Southern California, working for Southern California Permanente Medical Group who is called on to care for children with non-functioning immune systems and fungal infections, and I have found the advice of Dr Walsh to be invaluable in caring for these children. I first became acquainted with Dr. Walsh during an infectious disease fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, during which time I frequently had patients with aspergillosis, a disease which until recently was considered a death sentence. Although I did not meet him personally, I found that many of the review articles I read about the subject kept referring to Dr. Walsh and a series of randomized trials he had led on comparing different approaches to treatment in cancer patients with suspected fungal disease. This subject is a very complicated one, and the comparison between therapies is not straightforward, since the side effects of the medications are significant, the treatment courses are long, and merely documenting survival is not enough. His approach to these comparisons managed to take these different aspects of therapy into account, much in the same way as oncologists attempt to minimize chemotherapy side effects while maximizing their effect against cancer. I began to think of him on the same level as one of the other great Walshes of our time; Bill Walsh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980’s, also took a thoughtful, cerebral approach toward a brutal game and managed to accumulate one of the best records in NFL history. While the comparison may seem trite, it is meant to demonstrate the amount of respect that I have for Dr Walsh. Thomas Walsh has also ushered in an era where our record against aspergillosis has gone from abysmal to impressive. Not only has his work undoubtedly saved lives, but I have since interacted with him personally to ask his advice, and found that advice on individual patients to be as well-reasoned and helpful as his myriad papers in the field. Having Dr Walsh available has made a very positive impact in my care of patients with aspergillosis, not only saving lives but also improving their quality, avoiding unnecessary and often dangerous procedures and directing the focus and energy of the medical team on interventions that have proven effective at keeping the disease at bay until the patient is able to complete chemotherapy and fight the disease with his or her own immune system. I have thanked Dr Walsh personally, but would also like to do so publicly, and for that purpose I direct this letter to you. Thanks for any efforts you can make to enable Dr Walsh and his colleagues to continue their endeavors toward enlightening us all and ushering these patients through times that could otherwise be very dark.
Zackary W. Taylor, MD
Infectious Disease Specialist
Southern California Permanente Medical Group
Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center
Fontana, CA 92335
Sheryl Lewin, MD
It is hard to know where to start, as the last 2 months have been one of the wilder rides I have been on in my career. When I was deciding what type of medicine to practice, it became clear to me early on that I had a calling to help children, but that I wasn’t cut out to deal with serious life threatening illness. I chose the field of Pediatric Plastic Surgery because by and large, it is a happy specialty where in almost all cases, children are healthy with a singular problem that I have the opportunity to correct.
With that being said, I was unprepared to deal with the cards that were dealt to Eli, my otherwise completely healthy 6 year old patient who was born with microtia, a rare condition where the ear and ear canal does not form. He and his family traveled from Indiana to California for me to perform a complex Medpor ear reconstruction. Six days after the 9 hour surgery to rebuild his ear, there was little indication of any problem. However a mere 48 hours later, it became clear that something was terribly wrong. When cultures revealed that he had an invasive and aggressive infection with Rhizopus, a fungal organism I had never even heard of, I had an overwhelming feeling of desperation as I had no idea how to treat this little boy.
It did not take long for my local Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist to discover that you were the world’s authority on these invasive mucormycosis infections. Since our very first conversation, you have shown an amazing commitment and dedication to helping Eli. It is a terrible feeling to have a patient suffering and have nothing in your armamentarium to help that child. Without your sage guidance, it is hard to know where Eli would be today. Though you have never met myself or this family, your “long distance” daily management of his illness for the past two months has cured this little boy.
I have been very humbled as I have learned about you and your mission to build the Center for Treatment of Immunocompromised Children. It has been truly inspiring to get to know a man who really defines all of the best qualities a physician…or maybe of a saint. You have been available to us 24/7, with not only wise advise about the course of treatment, but with true compassion for this family. Nearly all our conversations ended with your request: Please make sure you give Eli and his Mom a big hug for me.
MissionFromTheHeart.org talks about how you are a true American hero, helping others in times of national and regional emergencies. That is no exaggeration. I will never forget my phone ringing one night at 10:44pm…1:44am your time! It was in the midst of Hurricaine Sandy, and you had been up for two days, braving the floods to coordinate evacuations for the indigent and elderly citizens of New York. Right in the midst of all that chaos, in your couple moments of a break, you were still concerned about Eli and checking with me to make sure he was doing okay.
After seven operations and 2 months of IV antifungal medication, Eli is cured of this terrible infection. Words really cannot express my appreciation for your help. You and the work you do, are critical…and I know your dream will help save so many other children. You truly make this world a better place.
With Tremendous Gratitude,
Sheryl Lewin, MD
Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery
Santa Monica, California
Deborah Lehman, MD
I am a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Over the past 20 years I have cared for many children with complex infectious diseases problems and I frequently seek advice from experts around the country. This past month I cared for a 6 year-old boy who was born without an ear and required a complete ear reconstruction. About a week after the surgery the ear became infected with an unusual fungus-Rhizopus. Because this was an unusual infection and in a very unusual situation and location, I contacted a colleague of mine who recommended I give Dr. Tom Walsh a call. Within about 10 minutes of contacting Dr. Walsh by email, we were on the phone having a conversation about the infection and possible approaches to this little boy’s ear. Dr. Walsh helped to guide me, as well as the ear surgeon, through what we hope will be curative surgery for this patient. Dr. Walsh was available to us around the clock (and with the 3 hour time difference this was sometimes very late or early hours for him!) He even participated in a conference call during the Super storm Sandy when he was operating with little electricity and as a part of an emergency rescue team for the City of New York! Dr. Walsh was a savior for all of us who were involved in the day-to-day care of this boy and allowed us to maximize our care for him. Dr. Walsh’s guidance, compassion and encyclopedic knowledge of fungal infections and antifungal therapies were instrumental to this boy’s recovery and I cannot thank him enough from the physician end for all of his help, insight and incredible availability. For this little boy and his family (and for the physicians caring for this complicated infection) Dr. Walsh was a life saver!
Dr. Ruxandra Moroti
I’m physician – infectious diseases specialist in Romania and I met Prof. Thomas Walsh in Athens, in 2009, at TIMM4 – a congress dedicated to fungal infections. He gave a lecture about some special cases, very dramatic and severe fungal infections with a favorable evolution due to the perseverance, courage and motivation of the physicians’ team. For his work, Prof Thomas Walsh received the special prize of the congress. Because I was confronted with a very serious fungal infection in one of my patients, I addressed Prof. Walsh my case. My patient, an 18 year old boy, had meningo-encephalitis with Cryptococcus neoformans and a severe immune-depressive underlying condition. He had a resistant strain of C neoformans, Amphotericin B and Flucitosine were not available in Romania, and his medication for the underlying disease had many drug-drug interactions, including with the antifungal drugs, so it was very hard to make slalom between all his co-morbidities and medications. Consequently, his fungal infection couldn’t be rapidly solved and once it became chronic, the chances for cure decreased significantly. Despite our efforts, his illness seemed to overwhelm us all; he continued to have visual loss, intermittent cranial nerves palsies and periods with altered conscience status (among these, 2 days of profound coma). When I asked for help, I was encountered by Prof. Walsh with solicitude and friendliness; he offered his entire support, very useful medical advices and also a connection with a colleague from Germany (Dr. A Groll), who in turn, helped us acquiring the proper medication. Due to Prof Walsh’s support, I felt that I was not alone; I felt hope and I kept doing this fight with the disease till the end and now my patient is cured and safe.
One year later, Prof. Walsh advised me again, promptly and reliable, for another two life-threatening infections – one rhinocerebral mucormycoses in a 64 year-old patient and one with a severe acute infection-related shock in a 16 year old girl, both of them being saved.
It is so important to have support when you desperate…thank you, Thomas Walsh, for being a DOCTOR in the pure sense of this word -for your patients and also for yourcolleagues!Dr. Ruxandra Moroti, PhD
Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases Specialist
Matei Bals National Institute for Infectious Diseases
Dr. Tempe K. Chen
As a pediatric infectious disease specialist, I have had the opportunity to care for many patients with invasive fungal infections, including aspergillosis, mucormycosis, and fusariosis. All of my treatment decisions have been based upon information in scientific publications authored or co-authored by Dr. Thomas J. Walsh. Early in the spring of 2009, I was able to attend a conference entitled “Focus on Fungal Infections,” where I first heard Dr. Walsh speak about the treatment of invasive aspergillus infections in immunocompromised patients. Little did I know that I would come to heavily rely upon Dr. Walsh’s sage advice just a few months later…
In the summer of 2009, I had the privilege of participating in the care of a 16 year-old boy with a brain tumor. As far as brain tumors go, this was the kind of tumor you wanted to have- one that would allow you a 90% chance of survival with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After receiving chemotherapy, he developed fever, seizure, and meningitis. Despite treating him with multiple antibiotics, his meningitis did not improve. An MRI of the brain revealed a brain abscess and I recommended a diagnostic biopsy of the abscess. I dreaded hearing my patient’s biopsy results, since it only confirmed one of my worst fears. An invasive aspergillus infection of the brain is typically deemed fatal and carries an extremely poor prognosis with more than 90% mortality.
I started my patient on the best antifungal medicine available to treat aspergillus infections at the dose that is currently recommended by the FDA. When I measured the drug concentration in both his blood and spinal fluid, the levels were too low. I searched the internet for publications that might give me guidance in treating this infection, and found only a few case reports in adults. I subsequently contacted one of my former mentors about my patient, and my former mentor’s immediate advice was to contact Dr. Walsh.
I sent an e-mail to Dr. Walsh asking for his advice, and almost immediately, I received a response asking me to call him directly to discuss this challenging case. To my elation, I learned that Dr. Walsh had a Patient Care cell phone, which doctors in the US and around the world can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to directly seek his advice. And, from that day forward, I have been incredibly blessed to have Dr. Walsh in the lives of my patients.
Using his state-of-the-art research modalities, Dr. Walsh was able to help me calculate specifically tailored doses of antifungal medications to treat my patient’s aspergillus infection. It truly seemed impossible to try to get a drug to penetrate into cerebrospinal fluid that does not normally belong there, but Dr. Walsh helped us achieve this seemingly impossible goal. Now, more than 16 months later, under the meticulous care and guidance of Dr. Walsh, I am very close to curing my patient of his aspergillus infection completely!
Over the past year, I have continued to seek Dr. Walsh’s help in caring for my immunocompromised patients with challenging invasive fungal infections. To date, he has helped me cure several patients, including a little boy with extensive Rhizopus cellulitis of the arms and legs (a sort of flesh-eating fungus), a teenage girl with acute leukemia and chronic disseminated Candidiasis (including lesions in her brain and liver), and a little boy with deadly Candida meningoencephalitis. I soon hope to add my patient with CNS aspergillosis to that list. These are truly amazing outcomes as most children will either die from these infections or suffer terrible handicaps through the rest of their lives.
Dr. Walsh’s voice mail message states that he is there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you with your important questions. I must admit that I was skeptical that someone who was so busy with patient care, teaching, and research responsibilities could be so readily available and accessible to me. But true to his word, Dr. Walsh is always available by e-mail or phone, sometimes at the expense of his own sleep to help you in your time of need. He patiently answers every single question you have, even if he is traveling to a conference or spending time with his own family. No matter how busy he is, he will always take time out of his very busy day to stay in touch with me about my patients. Dr. Walsh’s incredible insight and knowledge never ceases to amaze me, as he is often able to predict what my patient’s test results will be, even though he is over 3,000 miles away. The most amazing part is that he provides his valuable expertise and time to those of us who need it free-of-charge.
I have never met a more caring, selfless, and dedicated physician than Dr. Walsh. I enthusiastically support his ongoing research and commend him for his tireless efforts and true mission from the heart. I can say with 100% certainty that several of my patients would not be alive today without Dr. Walsh, and he has made me a better physician. I am truly honored to consider Dr. Walsh my friend and mentor.
Tempe K. Chen, M.D.
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Miller Children’s Hospital
Long Beach, CA
Dr. Keith Riley
I want to thank you personally for your help in managing my patients limb, and life threatening infection with Scedosporium prolificans. When my patient was first diagnosed with Scedosporium prolifcans osteomyelitis of his forearm in the summer of 2010 you provided immediate and expert guidance. Your unwavering help allowed us to obtain emergency and immediate FDA approval for the use of Miltefosine, as one component of a complex medical/surgical treatment plan. This treatment plan continues to be successful to this day. Your personal availability for my patient has been admirable. We continue to have frequent phone call conversations despite your busy practice. You have gone beyond “curbside” advice expected for any medical professional. Your integrity and compassion for the welfare of not only my patient, but for those whom you have provided care for during their struggles with serious fungal infections, appears unwavering. You have my deepest respect and admiration.
Without your expert opinion and advice, I have no doubt that my patient would have lost his limb.
Thanks for your leadership in developing a resource for the treatment of serious fungal infections. It is greatly needed. As an Infectious Disease Physician with decades of experience, when confronted with an infection for which I have little or no experience and there are no treatment regimens nor “guidelines”, having an expert resource available is invaluable and greatly appreciated. I am in strong support for your development of a center of excellence through which your expertise could be available to assist in the formulation of treatment plans for our unfortunate patients who develop life threatening fungal infections, either due to immune suppression or bad luck.
Keith B. Riley, M.D.
Dr. Julie Kulhanjian
It is with great pleasure that I write to tell people about the wonderful Dr. Tom Walsh, a physician who exemplifies all that is good and right in medicine. He is the closest that we have to a national treasure when it comes to medical scientists. He is the nicest and most helpful of consultants, always available and excited about assisting us with our complicated patients. He is empathetic, extremely knowledgeable and conscientious. He is a trusted resource for pediatric infectious disease and oncology physicians.
I know Dr. Walsh both as a trusted researcher and more recently as a resource for individual cases. I have been a pediatric infectious disease specialist for the twenty years. Dr. Tom Walsh and his research collaborators provide the science behind what we do. Dr. Walsh has been researching and publishing information about fungal infections in pediatric oncology patients for many years. He an author on most of the collaborative papers and the lead author on the majority of journal and book reviews of fungal infections in pediatric oncology and transplant patients. Dr. Walsh’s list of publications is extensive and can be accessed easily. He is undeniably an expert, if not the expert, in the field of pediatric fungal infections.
My experiences with Dr. Walsh go beyond his publications because as most clinicians know, patients do not always fit neatly into diagnostic categories. Many of the infections that we see in oncology patients are rare, and require expertise from physicians like Dr. Walsh who have cared for numerous unusual cases. He has information about the pharmacology of medications and an expertise in clinical conditions which cannot be accessed from the literature alone. Dr. Walsh has provided our department with expert advice on a wide range of unusual cases including Aspergillus of the central nervous system, invasive alternaria and disseminated fusariosis. While there are other ID specialists with stellar credentials, many of these experts are not available for ongoing consultation. In contrast, Dr Walsh is always available for our professional consultation, and he welcomes and wishes to participate actively in the care of our patients. Quite simply, his life mission is to improve the quality of care and life of these fragile patients Where others narrowly define their mission of service, Dr. Walsh embraces the opportunity to provide his expertise to all patients. He does so with an unusually humble and kind demeanor.
Thank you, Dr Walsh.
From Dr. Julie Kulhanjian and her patients at Children’s Hospital Oakland
Dr. David Margolis
Thank you for this opportunity to express my gratitude and admiration for Dr. Tom Walsh. Dr. Tom Walsh is a true medical hero. Dr. Walsh is one of the foremost authorities regarding invasive fungal infections in children with cancer. He runs a research laboratory and translates his basic research into the clinic. He runs many clinical trials, each designed to learn more such that we can prevent, diagnose, and/or treat invasive fungal infections in children better.
All of the previously mentioned attributes would be enough to make Dr. Walsh a great physician. But what makes Tom a hero is that he is available literally 24/7/365 (not hyperbole…I’ve tracked him down multiple times including nights, weekends, and holidays) to help physicians like me help children like yours. He welcomes phone calls from physician teams and helps us manage children with serious and life-threatening infections. Many children have had limbs salvaged and lives saved because of Dr. Walsh’s tireless energy and desire to help children no matter where they are. It is an honor to be a part of an effort to honor Dr. Walsh.
David A. Margolis, MD
Professor of Pediatrics/Medical College of Wisconsin
Program Director/Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin BMT Program
Dr. Jennifer Goldman
Dear Dr. Walsh,
Not only have you been a very helpful resource on a complex medical case, but you have been readily available and always willing to help.
I am currently an Infectious Diseases Fellow and you have taken the time to discuss a case in depth as well as spend time teaching along the way.
Thank you very much for your commitment to very ill children. Your dedication is much appreciated.
Jennifer Goldman MD
The Children’s Mercy Hospital
Dr. Christy Beneri
Dear Dr. Walsh,
It is a privilege to work with you and I cannot express in words my gratitude for all your efforts in helping me care for my patients. Your experience and advice is invaluable.
When I recently called about a young adolescent with cystic fibrosis with sputum cultures positive for Trichosporon, you did not hesitate to help me. You have gone above and beyond to make sure my patient gets the best care. It seems that increasingly, the cystic fibrosis population is being plagued with more fungal infections and your research and experience are critically needed. Specifically, your experience with the organism Trichosporon and recent publication in the literature has taught me and enabled me to help educate my patient and his family, as well as my pulmonology colleagues. Your knowledge in anti-fungal therapy and dosing in the pediatric population is very helpful at this critical stage in my patient’s care. I know the family I am working with also expresses their deep appreciation. There are times when I have e-mailed you an update or question about the patient and before I knew it you were calling to speak with me personally. These conversations have really helped guide me and I know that this child will do better because of your help.
It is your amazing dedication to research and quality clinical care that helps children every day. You are a very caring and compassionate doctor – a truly remarkable physician. Thank you Dr. Walsh!
Christy Beneri, DO
Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Division of Infectious Diseases
SUNY Stony Brook
Looking back on the two years I spent at the NIH working as a post-baccalaureate fellow, I can say that my experience was enhanced due to the dedication of Dr. Walsh. I am grateful to have worked under the direction of Dr. Walsh, for he envisioned my success and inspired me to not only believe in myself, but to also work towards excellence in all that I do. For instance, he believed in me when I doubted my capability of becoming a physician. In my moment of anxiety, he stated that I should consider working towards being a leader and physician-scientist in my intended specialty, infectious diseases.
Additionally, he was heavily invested in seeing me succeed in my career and meticulously assisted with various details of my medical school applications. Dr. Walsh also allowed me to observe him on patient rounds and he discussed the diseases we encountered in great depth, covering pathophysiology and related concepts. More importantly, he instilled in me the importance of care in medicine, changing my entire perspective on approaching patients. He believed that a physician should approach a patient by imagining oneself in the position of the patient and provide care with the reversal of these roles in mind. This concept is an important illustration of how compassionate Dr. Walsh is to his patients and everyone he encounters, and one that I hope to follow as a physician.
Furthermore, Dr. Walsh invested time in instructing me on the clinical management of diseases on a very detailed level in spite of many demands from his family, his teaching commitments, and those from his role as a primary investigator and physician at the NIH. He was available for instruction and for professional and personal assistance both within the laboratory setting as well as in the clinical setting without hesitance.
The environment created by Dr. Walsh allowed for optimal scientific learning and was conducive for innovative experiments using state of the art resources ranging from computed tomography to polymerase chain reaction. Collaborations with other groups further extended the scientific capability of our laboratory and enhanced my scientific growth. Dr. Walsh was concerned about my scientific development and always encouraged me to engage in scientific literature, conferences, and lectures. In addition, Dr. Walsh also challenged me to learn innovative laboratory techniques such as the -D-glucan diagnostic assay to enrich my scientific experience.
In summation, Dr. Walsh is accessible, generous, and motivating; and has always pushed me to the highest standards. In all my dealings with Dr. Walsh, he treated me as a valuable employee with contributions not limited to my technical assistance. Because of his support, I will be matriculating into medical school this fall and I am truly grateful to him for believing in me so faithfully that he not only hired me to work in with him, but also opened numerous possibilities for my growth and maturity. With this in mind, I can say that Dr. Walsh has been one of the most inspirational persons in my life and it is truly an honor to know him.
Dr. Brian Lee
Dear Dr. Walsh,
I am writing to personally thank you for your tremendous help over the past several years. As a pediatric infectious disease specialist at a community-based hospital in Oakland, California, I have been involved in the treatment of a number of immunocompromised children with complicated and life-threatening fungal infections. Since many of these infections are quite unusual, it has been invaluable to have had access to your extensive expertise and experience. Considering your busy schedule, I am continually impressed by how available you are when I have called with questions. I truly appreciate your professionalism, compassion, and wisdom. Your advice has been consistently unbiased and sensitive to the complexities involved in treating unusual fungal infections, particularly in compromised children.
As you may recall, the patients that we have discussed have included a 2-year old boy with chronic granulomatous disease who developed Aspergillus ostemyelitis of his ribs, a 7-year old boy with leukemia who developed Rhizopus osteomyelitis of his right hip, and a 16-year old boy who developed fungal lesions in his solitary right kidney. In another era, I believe that these children would not have survived. Instead, they are all currently alive and doing well because of both your overall work on antifungal therapy and your thoughtful advice, provided during numerous telephone communications.
More recently, we have had frequent discussions regarding another patient of mine, an infant with leukemia who developed disseminated fusarium. You have been available at all hours to discuss his treatment and care, whenever new issues have arisen with regard to his clinical course and laboratory results. Although the patient is not completely out of the woods yet, he has improved with your help. Your involvment and genuine concern have provided the family with a source of optimism and hope, knowing that one of the foremost experts in the field is guiding their child’s therapy.
These patients truly owe their lives to you. On behalf of them and myself, thank you for all that you do!
With great appreciation and admiration,
Brian Lee, M.D.
Co-Director, Division of Infectious Diseases
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
Dr. Frederick Cox
This letter is written with gratitude to Dr. Thomas Walsh whom I have known for 15 years and often consulted regarding the care of children with fungal infections. He is always available and displays great knowledge of current research and treatment of serious infections, especially in immunocompromised children. He is a caring, dedicated physician who provides current information through telephone and e-mail consultation but also by direct visitation to the patient’s bedside. In 45 years of medical practice I have never known a physician who travels great distances to see the patient like Dr. Walsh. He has served his calling, his patients, other physicians and the National Institutes of Health admirably. He is well liked and a prolific writer in the medical literature. I am honored to have the opportunity to acknowledge my appreciation for Tom and his work. He is a person and physician of utmost skill and integrity.
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Medical College of Georgia
Dr. Theoklis Zaoutis, MD, MSCE
Dr. Walsh is one of the most dedicated physicians I have ever met. If you call his office his voice mail message states “we are here 24/7 to help you and your patients” and he means it. About 4 years ago I called Dr. Walsh to ask for help with a little boy with zygomycosis, the deadliest of fungal infections that threatened the loss of his right arm and his life. When the only recourse necessary to prevent this deadly infection from reaching this child’s chest wall was to emergently amputate the right arm, Dr. Walsh responded to our call for help. We agreed that the best way to manage this infection be for him to evaluate it directly. Within a few hours after the phone call, I received a page from Dr. Walsh who taken the train at his own expense from Bethesda to Philadelphia so that he could see the boy and work with the teams caring for him. He spent the day with the oncology team, the infectious diseases team, the plastic surgeons, the critical care physicians and the pathologists reviewing the x-rays, biopsies, and microbiologic specimens and examining the patient. He then followed this child’s course over the span of four months. Not only did the child survive the infection (a process that usually has a death rate of 80-90%), but was able to keep his arm. Following plastic surgery and rehabilitation, his right arm was virtually fully functional. Dr. Walsh provided the invaluable and critical expertise that saved this child’s right arm and his life.
He has also provided similar expertise in caring for our most compromised children with severe and life-threatening infections, including pulmonary aspergillosis, disseminated candidiasis, invasive trichosporonosis, and pulmonary zygomycosis. These children have received state-of the art care from a gifted and inspiring physician and from his world class translational research program that is a national treasure and a beacon of hope to physicians and patients in need.
Theoklis Zaoutis, MD, MSCE
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology
Associate Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases
Associate Director, Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness (CPCE)
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Joseph Meletiadis, PhD
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a research fellow at the Immunocompromised Host Section of Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute from 2003 until 2007 working under your guidance on several projects related with genomics, antifungal susceptibility assays and combination therapy for invasive fungal infections. My training during this period was very productive and crucial in order to become a Lecturer of Medical School in University of Athens, Greece.
Beside the professional achievement, this training was a life changing experience for me realizing how a goal, you believe on it, can power you with strength to overcome your human weaknesses. Your uncomplaining dedication in saving and in improving quality of patient’s lives was constant motivation for me to contribute the maximum of my efforts. Your broad knowledge of basic, applied and clinical science makes you a unique researcher and clinician, who achieved very successfully to bridge biomedical research and patient care like very few scientists. This knowledge was obvious in every meeting we had, where you helped me in designing experiments, analyzing results, exploring the implications for patients and opening new directions. Your research was characterized from continuity and completeness approaching the scientific problem from different aspects ranging from molecular to clinical studies. Your exceptional capabilities of multi-functionality, innovation and organization were very crucial in supervising efficiently and timely several projects with results that changed our understanding about fungal infections and clinical practice in treating effectively life-threatening fungal infections.
Most importantly, despite all these achievements and your enormous contribution to science and patient care, you remained a humble, modest, unobtrusive and still hard working researcher trying to achieve even more goals and saving more patients. Personal ambition was always subordinated to service of patient’s life. You are a perfect example how science should be combined with morality. It is still in my memory several discussions that that we had about bioethics in science and our duty in serving human life unselfishly.
You are a dedicated clinician, a unique researcher, and an exceptional person. Thank you again for your entire trust, help and teaching.
Joseph Meletiadis, Ph. D.
Lecturer of Medical School,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens,
Laboratory for Clinical Microbiology,
“Attikon” University General Hospital,
Dr. M. Pilar Gutierrez
Dear Dr Walsh:
It is difficult to express my gratitude and my appreciation for the many years of kindness and encouragement that I have been receiving from you. I wish I knew how to say thank you.
I believe there are no words in the dictionary or in the English language to say thank you as much as I want to say it to you.
I believe it was about nine years ago, when I first call you, It was a sad call, a call that had a sad ending. It was Marcos, one of my most brilliant young male patients who had ALL and had Aspergillus. At the time, we used liposomal Amphotericin, and we took him to transplant. Unfortunately, he did not survive. However, every year the family comes to our gatherings, thank us and remembers how much we did to take care of him.
I am happy to say that the next call, although again I think crying, was a better story. This time, it was Noah. Noah was two years of age, and, at the time, he had been diagnosed with ALL
He came in on a Saturday morning with varicella, and, on Sunday, there were red bumps all over his body. He had one of my biggest fears in science and in medicine, Fusarium. It was disseminated. We fought it for months. Noah is now seven or eight years old. He is brat , happy young boy who does not recall that he was so sick at one time.
Later, came a little baby who had been diagnosed at five months of age with ALL. Unfotunately, again, he developed Candida. He was a miracle baby, and he had a miracle story. He survived, and he is now three years old, fat, and looks great.
Two years ago, I called you, not with a fungal infection but with a patient who was very ill who had been diagnosed with T cell leukemia in February of and, in May , he had encephalitis ,and unfortunately, he died.
I still remember you telling me to calm down, to stop crying, and to think what we could to save him. You said call me tomorrow and let me know what happens. Unfotunately. the next day, he died.
I think, for months, my heart was so , so sore that I could not even talk about him. Today, I am thankful that, at that time, when there was no one I could ask for help because no one knew what he had, you were the one who gave me your hand .
Four months after he died , I dicussed with his mother all the tests that we had done. I told her everything that we had done. I reviewed all the viruses, and I think I helped comfort her.
Unfortunately, I keep calling you, or fortunately for me. One year ago I met Gouda, a young boy who had.been diagnosed with ALL. He was four years old, and had Candida Tropicalis and persistent positive cultures at the beginning. During those days, Gouda’s mother a very smart, understanding and lovable woman, who would smile every time that I said I had talked to you. she knew you were my Angel
On September of 2007, I met Alex in my hospital. He was seventeen years old with ALL and zygomycosis of the abdomen, I was told pray and say good bye. Well I did pray and you showed the world that combination therapy works and Alex went home last month to celebrate his eighteen birthday with his family.
I pray every day to God. I pray to him for my family, for my patients, for the children of the world and I also pray that he will keep you and your family well, that your spirit of giving will never stop, and it will keep teaching us and many, many more how, by giving, you are a step above.
I think the best way to say thank you is in my own language, MUCHAS GRACIAS.
M. Pilar Gutierrez, M.D.
Dr. John Hartley
Dear Dr. Walsh,
This month marks the one year anniversary of Rafael’s 8 month admission here at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and the first month anniversary of his return home to his native country of Honduras, and I wanted to thank you for all the effort you put into his case.
As you recall, Rafael was admitted here in Fall 2007 with aseptic meningitis that was eventually found to be due to an extension of a thoracic mass (previously misdiagnosed as TB) to the epidural (and later subdural) space. Repeat biopsy of the mass yielded fungal elements of the Zygomycete family.
I cannot express to you what it meant to have your expertise available in such an intensive way. As the pediatric hospitalist who rounded on Rafael nearly daily for 8 months, I watched as our four local pediatric ID specialists did their best to contact fungal experts elsewhere in the country. The first led to a switch from Fluconazole to Itraconazole, which led to a return of the daily fevers and worsening CNS spread. The second led to a trial of Voriconazole, again with a clinical worsening.
One of the anesthesiologists (who sedated Rafael for his numerous MRI’s) privately told me that he thought Rafael was doomed.
Then you responded to the plea of this family and we began our nearly weekly phone conversations. You listened and gave credence to my bedside observations that Fluconazole had worked the best, and you added Ambisome, Deferisirox, and GM-CSF.
Over the course of the following months, the fevers subsided; the CSF began to clear, and it was clear to everyone that Rafael was getting better. Eight months after admission, Rafael walked out of this hospital.
I was also touched by your continued advocacy for Rafael—getting the 6 months of GM-CSF approved by Bayer, and the continued phone conversations on long-term management. He is due to get a follow-up chest CT scan and spinal MRI towards the end of this year.
In summary, thank you for the life-saving interventions, expertise, and guidance in the complicated care of Rafael.
John Hartley, D.O., F.A.A.P.
General Pediatrics/Kidslink Hospitalist
Phoenix Children’s Hospital
1919 E. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Dr. William Hope
This is a letter of thanks and acknowledgment of the mentorship and support you have given me during my fellowship in pharmacology and clinical mycology at the National Institutes of Health. With your help I was able to garner skills in a wide range of disciplines which will be critical to my future as a physician-scientist. You helped me identify and frame research questions which are critical to immunocompromised children and adults, and guided me in the systematic pursuit of answers. Furthermore, you tutored me in the many additional aspects which are critical for a successful career in our field, including grant writing, manuscript preparation and submission, preparation and delivery of scientific presentations and the management of laboratory personnel and resources.
Let me also take this opportunity to inform you that I consider your clinical acumen and scientific abilities to be without peer, your personal and scientific ethics to be beyond reproach and your dedication to your colleagues, patients and community to be of super- human proportions. I have and will continue to value our friendship, and look forward to productive ongoing and future scientific collaborations.
My Deepest Regards,
William Hope (MBBS, FRACP, FRCPA, PhD)
School of Translational Medicine
The University of Manchester
Dr. Masako Shimamura
Dear Dr. Walsh:
Thank you for your telephone advice today regarding the management of my pediatric patient with a life-threatening mucormycosis infection. Your clinical experience and insight into the microbiologic and pharmacologic rationale behind therapeutics, for which there is no body of published literature to guide clinicians’ management, is invaluable for patient care. I am also grateful that you are so readily available (I called on a Sunday afternoon) and so willing to share your extensive clinical knowledge for these difficult situations. Several years ago, I also had the benefit of your expertise in the care of premature neonates with invasive candidiasis, as well as another patient with a rare fungus, Pseudallescheria boydii. Your dedication to the care of these patients with severe, rare fungal infections can literally make the difference between life and death for these children.
I am a faculty member of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Our adult Infectious Diseases division does have active faculty research in clinical fungal infections. However, despite this on-campus expertise, issues of pediatric dosing and clinical management often cannot be extrapolated from the adult ID experience to children. Even at a tertiary care center such as The Children’s Hospital of Alabama, we see few patients with these rare fungal infections. Thus it is extremely valuable for us to have access to the advice of those such as yourself who have personal experience managing large numbers of these types of pediatric patients, and knowledge regarding the pharmacokinetics and dosing issues specific to pediatrics.
I am sincerely grateful to you for all of your help in the management of my patients with serious, rare fungal infections. You are providing an extremely valuable service to the patients whose lives may be saved by your knowledge. In addition, as a scientist with interest in the molecular basis for therapeutics, I appreciate your research into the microbiology and molecular pathogenesis of fungal infections, which provides rational and novel strategies for combating these lethal infections.
Masako Shimamura, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Pediatric Infectious Diseases
University of Alabama-Birmingham
Dr. Jignesh Dalal
This letter is written in strong support of Dr. Thomas Walsh. I have known him personally since 1998 when I started my Fellowship at National Cancer Institute. I had opportunity to interact with him very closely since then, for patients as well as research. Currently, I am practicing Stem Cell Transplantation and I am so much thankful to him for the superb, high quality of training he has imparted to me.
He has made innumerable significant contributions for the treatment of fungal disorders which are much more prevalent in patients undergoing Stem cell transplant for various cancers and other genetic disorders. He is amongst handful of physician scientist in the world who has superb clinical acumen to treat patients with fungal disorders and to contribute this much for advancement of science especially in development of Antifungal Therapeutics.
Dr. Walsh’s work has made tremendous impact in filed of Transplantation and Cancer related fields and is very highly respected and relied upon by other researchers and clinicians in the field.
I have been especially very privileged to be trained under him as well as use his encyclopedic knowledge to give new lives to some of my patients suffering from deadly cancer ,other rare genetic orders like immunodeficiency, aplastic anemia etc. I have been in regular contact with him periodically to discuss difficult cases. I should also add that whether it is day or evening, week end, or otherwise he has promptly responded to physicians seeking his help from across the world, and has helped to save innumerable lives around the world. This way he has really played key role in saving some lives even from this much distance.
Through out his distinguished career he has received many academic professional honors awards and distinctions. His contributions to development of fungal diseases is so much that almost all good publications about fungal disorders in good journals have used his work as citations.
Without hesitations I want to say that Dr. Walsh’s outstanding work has significantly improved health and lives of countless patients.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any other information
Jignesh Dalal, MD
Dr. Sandra Arnold
Dear Dr. Walsh
I am writing to you to thank for your help in treating two very special girls with two very unusual conditions. If it were not for your help and support, it is possible that these two girls could be dead or suffering from substantial long term morbidity.
Lauren, who is finally recovering from an orbital infection with Pythium insidiosum, is back at school for the first time since she completed the 5th grade in the spring of 2006. Your advice regarding immunotherapy to complement failing antifungal therapy allowed us to halt the spread of this very aggressive infection which had spread from her orbit, through the subcutaneous tissues of her neck and, unbeknownst to us at the time, down into her mediastinum. She has now fully recovered from the infection and the consequences of the immune activation that cleared the infection. She lost her left eye to this infection and but has a prosthesis and recently had cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of her periorbital tissues. She had her tracheostomy removed in late 2007 and is able to eat again, no longer needing her gastrostomy-tube.
Tiffany came to us from Southern Louisiana to be assessed by Ophthalmology around the same time that Lauren was being diagnosed. Tiffany was suffering from a progressively enlarging mass in her right orbit due to infection with Fusarium spp. During her first stay here at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center in September, 2006, acting upon your advice, we treated her with voriconazole, titrating up to the maximally tolerated dose. This appeared to stabilize the mass and she went home to receive the therapy by intravenous there. She did not, however, fare well and returned four weeks later with progressive proptosis, pain and vomiting (from pressure on the globe). After a long discussion with you [I remember this discussion well, sitting in my car in the parking lot of Walgreens, your having called in the evening after work (after work for me, anyway)], we elected to begin therapy with GM-CSF. Happily, the results were obvious within about one week. Tiffany has been visiting me in Memphis since her discharge in December 2007. The mass in her orbit continued to shrink and has been stable now for about 18 months (8 months off anti-fungal therapy and GM-CSF). She has she has limited vision in her right eye (approximately 2/400), but she has retained her globe and binocular vision.
Helping me to save the vision (and lives) of these two incredible girls is something for which I cannot thank you enough. I have also learned a great deal from you in this past year (and enjoyed meeting you in person in Toronto last spring) as your advice does not come without education and many references (piled high on my desk).
Sandra Arnold, MD, MS
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center
Dr. Cecilia Di Pentima
Dear Dr. Walsh,
Words feel short to express my gratitude for your dedication to Andrew’s medical care. Your expertise and knowledge provided the paramount support needed to maximize Andrew’s chances for recovery of his highly lethal disseminated Fusarium dimerum infection.
Andrew’s parents and I will always be thankful for your unconditional availability through the extended hours that you committed to address Andrew’s clinical management with the multiple sub specialty physicians, Andrew’s family, and myself. Not only your intervention meant life saving recommendations, but also served as an example of the high professional standards that all physicians should assert.
Cecilia Di Pentima, MD, MPH, FAAP
Department of Pediatrics
Infectious Diseases Division,
Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Thomas Jefferson University
Dr. Kiran K. Belani
I just wanted you to know how much I have appreciated your advice and telephone consultation that you have provided for my difficult patients over these last 20 years.Your attention to detail and the direction you give over long distance consultation is impressive and very valuable to us and very helpful for our patients in the management of their difficult fungal infections. You have been able to work us through very complex situations in infants and older children with severe life threatening and seemingly hopeless conditions.Your accessibility and the promptness of your reply both by email and by phone is truly appreciated by me and my colleagues as we are well aware of your busy schedule which often includes long distance travel.
I am also aware that there are numerous other Physicians around this Globe that you have also helped to solve dilemmas in mycology and other aspects of Oncologic Infectious Disease ,as I have met some of these individuals at International Conferences and also read many Case Reports of their patients in the literature coauthored by you.
I have always enjoyed the formal and informal discussions on Fungal Infections that you have given at National and International venues over the last two decades.
I am truly awed by the body of work done by you in the field of Mycology I have watched the changes this has made in the quality of life and the lifespan of some of my patients We have gone from a single option of amphotericin with its numerous toxicities resulting in poor quality of life for our ill children to multiple choices of antifungals with improved spectrum of action and adverse effects.
You have been an important force to forge ahead with pediatric trials that is of great value to us Practitioners who often feel hopeless while treating an immunocompromised child with a life threatening infection .
Finally, I salute you your excellent memory for people ,their names and their condition including the species of the offending mold or yeast. I wish you ongoing success for the rest of your career and I am grateful for all the time you have spared for me in these interactions as I have learnt from your experience and become a better healer
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Childrens Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Dr. Charalampos Antachopoulos
Having recently finished my pediatric residency, and with relatively little research experience and limited knowledge of mycology, I started my fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in October 2004 with a strong motivation for work but also with a real need for guidance, research orientation and training in the field of invasive mycoses. I now consider my fellowship at NCI as one of the most fruitful and productive periods of my career, which provided me with a valuable research experience and competence for project design and implementation, as well as with a sound knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment of filamentous fungal infections. Following this fellowship I was able to compete successfully among other candidates for a Pediatric Infectious Diseases lecturer position in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. This was a major professional development, which allowed me to work in a highly appreciated academic institution as a physician-scientist, combining both research and clinical service.
A crucial factor in the success of the above fellowship and subsequent professional accomplishment was Dr Walsh’s mentorship and leadership at NCI. As a mentor, he dedicated plenty of time in order to discuss possible projects where I could be involved, to diagnose my strengths and weaknesses, to allocate appropriate tasks and stimulate creative thinking. He was always willing to discuss and solve problems related to the design and implementation of experiments and encouraged me in cases of negative results. With his friendly, sincere and positive attitude he was always open to listen to my concerns but also suggestions regarding research or other issues. He allocated plenty of time in order to teach me how to improve my scientific writing and presenting skills. He was particularly interested in discussing and promoting my career development and did everything to facilitate future progress and accomplishments. During the fellowship period I never felt any reservation to knock his door and ask for help or advise.
Dr Walsh is also the inspiring leader of the Immunocompromised Host Section (IHS) scientific team. First of all, with his enormous research experience and deep knowledge of invasive fungal infections he was able to pursue scientific answers for timely clinical or research questions pertaining to important diagnostic or therapeutic issues. For this purpose he successfully divided the team into smaller units and allocated specific tasks for the members of each unit. At the same time, however, he was always open to new ideas from all of us and even encouraged the exchange of ideas and scientific brainstorming between the fellows. He would then set these proposals for discussion and not infrequently would agree for them to be investigated in the lab. This allowed many of us to develop autonomous scientific and research thinking, which in turn maximized the productivity of the section. Dr Walsh also possessed a number of other qualities as a leader: with his hard work, kindness, modesty, moral integrity and love for science and the patients, he was a bright paradigm for the scientists working in the section, from whom he enjoyed tremendous respect. He was able to inspire the team for hard work and an ethical approach to scientific research and academic activities. As a result of this, the IHS demonstrated not only outstanding productivity but also high quality scientific work. In this way as well, Dr Walsh served as a teacher for future leaders…
Clearly, Dr Walsh’s mentoring and leading skills are crucial for the success of the mission of the IHS of the Pediatric Oncology Branch. Future fellows and scientists at NCI will be lucky to have him as a supervisor of their research activities. As a chief of HIS, Dr Walsh has a lot to offer in modern mycology and immunocompromised patient supportive care.
Charalampos Antachopoulos, MD
Lecturer, Pediatric Infectious Diseases,
3rd Pediatric Department,
Dr. Andrew Catanzaro
Dear Dr. Walsh,
I would like to personally thank you for your expert advice regarding clinical management of complex fungal infections. As you know, at Unity Health Care in Washington DC we see a large number of HIV infected individuals with advanced immunosuppression. On several occasions I have received your expert advice in the management of these complex patients and their fungal infections. We have discussed treatment, drug interactions, as well as the art of melding clinical trial data and patient care. You have been instrumental in advising me in the treatment of several patients and for that I am deeply grateful.
Your willingness to take time to hear the case, discuss the literature, and help me devise a treatment plan has been extraordinary. Thanks to your advice, my patients have received better care. Words cannot express how important your expert guidance has been. I always hang up the phone or complete reading an email feeling I have truly learned from our conversations regarding clinical care. I deeply appreciate your time with the numerous consultations you have provided.
Please accept my hearty thanks and best wishes in your research endeavors.
Andrew Catanzaro, MD
Infectious Diseases Physician
Unity Healthcare, Inc.
Dr. Robert Patel
Dear Dr. Walsh:
It was an honor and a pleasure meeting you back in July 2006 when you traveled to New Jersey to meet with my patient, Joseph O. Rogers, the specialists, and myself at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. You spoke to Joe with fondness and enlightened us on Joe’s health history and the care that you have provided for him over the past 6 years. It is evident that you have been very involved in his care since his admission in 1999, when he was admitted under the care of Dr. Barton Kamen, at the New Jersey Cancer Institute, for disseminated Aspergillus.
Joe’s case is very unique in that he has multiple medical issues ranging from WAS, MUD BMT, ESRD, GVHD, contractures, fungal infections, as well as other complications from years of immuno supressents.
Joe’s mother had informed me that she had reached out to you for further guidance in Joe’s overall care during his recent hospital stay. Dr. Ted Louie, Dr. Jimenez and I changed Joe’s regimen adding on therapeutic interventions that you suggested would be more effective at stabilizing his Mucor fungal infection. Miraculously, Joe has improved drastically and is till fighting. It has been an honor and a privilege taking care of this young man.
On behalf of the CCU team and myself here at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, I would like to express our gratitude for your guidance in the care of our patient, Joseph O. Rogers.
Dr. Robert Patel, MD
Dr. Antonio Arrieta
As a pediatric infectious disease specialist I face daily the challenges of caring for children who have serious debilitating diseases that place them at risk for opportunistic infections, including those due to fungal pathogens.
I have in many occasions reached out to Dr. Walsh for advice in the care of these children. He has always, and allow me to stress the term always, been available to help me care for my patients. This includes times when he is on vacation with his family or presenting important data in conferences around the world.
More importantly, Dr. Walsh has been responsible for bringing forward the need to conduct research in children. You see, children are not just small adults. They have different risks for complications, they clear drugs in a different way and a different rate, etc. trying to treat these children using adult data, often results in regimens that are less than optimal. When we are dealing with infections that carry a mortality of 50%-90%, having a regimen that is less than optimal may be the difference between life and death for these children, who are already trying to overcome terrible odds due to their underlying illness.
Dr. Walsh is also a teacher, he has trained so many of the physicians who are now leaders worldwide in their own communities and are improving the health of children themselves.
I think of Dr. Walsh as a real life hero, a role model for young physicians and scientists. I consider it a privilege to have met Dr. Walsh and count him as a dear friend of mine and of children all over the world!
Antonio Arrieta, MD
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Dr. Maria Jevitz Patterson
Dear Dr. Walsh:
We all underscore the pivotal importance of your assistance: the accessibility, the timeliness, the thoroughness, the reassurance, and the impressive translational ease you have of moving from science to medicine. Thank you for your phenomenal time contribution, the ability to keep facts about these patients at hand, and your willingness to review even large imaging series. Your “co-management from a distance” imparts a quality of care for our patients and our institution that enhances significantly the care to which these severely compromised children (and their families) are entitled.
We look forward to continued involvement and support.
Maria Jevitz Patterson, MD, PhD
Dele Davies, MD, MSc
Stephen Obara, MD, PhD
Melissa Rosenberg, MD
Division Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Michigan State University
Dr. Marcus S. Shaker
Dear Dr. Walsh:
I am writing this letter to express my sincere thanks for your recent help in caring for one of my patients. In our many conversations you have always provided not only your expert opinion, but also created teachable moments to enhance my own profession knowledge. This level of care and interest is an uncommon experience, and it is refreshing and inspiring to see the level of dedication and service you provide. This service truly reflects a high caliber of care, and your willingness to provide it on a national (and international) scale enhances the delivery of care for patients everywhere. The availability of experts such as you will improve patient outcomes. Although the remuneration of this consultative work may be difficult to measure, the benefits to patients and their clinicians are countless.
With Kind Regards,
Marcus S. Shaker, M.D.. M.S., FAAAAI, FAAP
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and
of Community and Family Medicine
Section of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Ali Abdul Lattif Ali BVM&S, MS, PhD
Dr. Thomas J. Walsh, MD
I don’t know Dr. Walsh personally, but I know him from his high quality scientific publication in high repute journals.
I sincerely appreciate your high quality scientific research in the area of medical mycology. I would like to thank you & your research group for the excellent publications which are excellent sources of learning for me. I have learned from studying your publications, specifically the methodology used in order to prove the theory behind your research.
I appreciate the saying “from research bench to patient’s bed side,” a true statement that is reflected in your research papers and presents a new way for managing patients with fungal infections.Please accept this letter of appreciation for the excellent research work your research group performs. I await more excellent papers from your lab.
Thank you very much
Ali Abdul Lattif Ali BVM&S, MS, PhD
Center for Medical Mycology,
Department of Dermatology,
Case Western Reserve University