Dr. Sima Bhatt was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She always questioned why her parents chose to emigrate from India to a city that was recently publicizing temperatures colder than Antarctica, Mount Everest, and Siberia. Nonetheless, she and her two sisters learned to brave the cold weather and even managed to go to school when there were a few feet of snow on the ground, a feat she learned later in life, is not an expectation in most cities.
She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology. She spent her free time planning “Kid’s night out” a program for children affected by cancer and lobbying with Colleges Against Cancer for a smoke-free campus. She also met her future husband, Falak, who is now an internal medicine physician.
Sima then moved back to Chicago to complete medical school at Rush Medical College and residency at the University of Chicago where her interests in pediatrics and hematology-oncology were sealed. While initially, she had no intention of leaving Chicago, she was impressed by the academic environment at Washington University and made the decision to move to Saint Louis for her fellowship in 2014. During her training, she was struck by the disparate outcomes of patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) compared to the other patients she cared for and decided to focus her research efforts on this population. She worked in the laboratory of Dr. Laura Schuettpelz, to identify novel targets for therapy in Myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease only curable by HSCT and completed her Master’s in Clinical Investigation.
Currently, Sima is an Instructor in Pediatrics in Hematology and Oncology with a focus in stem cell transplant and cellular therapy. Since joining the faculty, she has worked to develop the CAR T-cell program and collaborated with Dr. Shalini Shenoy to open a Phase 1/2 study for transplantation of patients with sickle cell disease with haplo-donors. She is also collaborating with the laboratory of Dr. Todd Druley and the National Marrow Donor Program to understand the clinical impact of donor-derived clonal hematopoiesis on outcomes of transplant recipients. In her free time, Sima enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her adorable 18-month-old daughter, Sofie, whose favorite words include “no”, “hospital”, and “outside” the latter assures the Bhatt family doesn’t lose their edge in braving the winter.