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Dr. Hedy Lee Kindler

While Dr. Hedy Kindler worked to becoming a top oncologist and cancer researcher, she never imagined that one particular rare cancer -- mesothelioma -- would touch her life so deeply. In 2001, Kindler’s father died from asbestos cancer. That ignited a passion in her for helping similar patients worldwide.

Kindler is the director of the University of Chicago Medical Center’s mesothelioma program and is globally recognized for her expertise in the disease. She is an associate professor of medicine at the university in the hematology/oncology department and the medical director for the facility’s gastrointestinal oncology department.

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What is Kindler’s Specialty?

Kindler has taken a keen interest in novel and emergent medications for asbestos-cancer treatment. As part of her job, she is responsible for overseeing and designing clinical trials for new medications. Some of her most recent focus is on drugs that include Alimta and Gemcitabine, two medications that are commonly used in lung-cancer patients. Today, there are phase II clinical trials underway to determine if they can be used in pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

Her work has gotten so much attention that she’s been asked to speak nationwide about the future of asbestos-cancer treatment. During one of those speaking engagements, Kindler said most drugs don’t work on mesothelioma because researchers don’t understand the biology of the disease. She said it’s also difficult to encourage pharmaceutical companies to test the right drugs because it’s not profitable for them, and more research funding is needed. It’s an uncommon disease so clinical trials are too small to get accurate results, she said. During the mesothelioma symposium, Kindler said researchers need more effective medications and more clinical investigations.

Kindler believes that patients must have specialized physicians on their case. She said there are subtleties between lung cancer and asbestos-related lung cancers that an average oncologist can’t understand. Because of her expertise in the disease, patients travel from around the world to see her. She also said that too often patients are not given any hope about their future, and that needs to change. There are a lot of treatment options that allow patients to live longer, fulfilling lives with the disease, she said.

Kindler has also taken a keen interest in curtailing asbestos use worldwide. She said the global use of asbestos, especially in countries like Pakistan and Russia, is a tragedy and the asbestos-disease problems there are just starting to emerge. She is the immediate past president of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group and is on the medical advisory board for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. She is also on the National Cancer Institute’s Pancreatic Cancer Task Force and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.

Kindler's Background

Kindler received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her medical degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo. After graduating in 1989, she completed internships and her residency at the UCLA Medical Center. She started her job in Chicago after several prestigious fellowships.

In addition to her interest in asbestos cancers, Kindler is board certified to practice internal medicine and medical oncology. She treats other illnesses that include colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and rectal cancer. She has been extensively published in scholarly and peer-reviewed journals. She serves as an associate editor of “Lung Cancer,” an international journal for thoracic cancers. In 2010, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization awarded Kindler the Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Irving Selikoff is credited for being the first to establish the link between asbestos and cancer.

Kindler has appeared several times on the Top Doctors and Who’s Who lists. She has received the Mimi Ashton/ALCASE Award for Outstanding Patient Care because of her work with thoracic and gastrointestinal cancer patients and the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center Research Award.


The University of Chicago Medicine. Hedy Lee Kindler, MD. Retrieved from http://www.uchospitals.edu/physicians/hedy-kindler.html