Change Agent

Mary Horowitz, MD '80, GME '89, MS '91

Dr. Horowitz is the Robert A. Uihlein Professor for Hematologic Research and serves as chief of the division of hematology and oncology in MCW's department of medicine.

She joined the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research's (CIBMTR) precursor organization (the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry) in 1985, and has served as its chief scientific director since 1991.

Mary Horowitz, MD, MSThe CIBMTR is a large outcomes registry that captures clinical data on donors and recipients of hematopoietic stem cell transplants in 40 countries. It also operates, in collaboration with the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match, a large repository of donor-recipient biospecimens linked to its clinical data. Under Dr. Horowitz's direction, the CIBMTR has grown to a database of more than 440,000 patients and a staff of almost 200.

Dr. Horowitz also is research director for the Stem Cell Therapeutic Outcomes Database of the CW Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and principal investigator of the Data and Coordinating Center of the National Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN).

In 2013, Dr. Horowitz was inducted into the American Association of Physicians, and in 2014 was selected to receive the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation's Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1991 and has co-authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications.

– Karri Stock

What Drives You?

What drove me to choose a career in medicine was a desire to spend my life in a way that made a difference. But what drives me day to day is a desire to deliver on the expectations and needs of the people who depend on me – whether it is the patients I am caring for, the faculty in my division, or my research collaborators in the CIBMTR and BMT CTN. I feel a very deep sense of responsibility to ensure that I deliver excellence in all of the areas of my life.

What Has Been the Highlight of Your Career?

That is really hard to say. However, I derive a lot of satisfaction from having had a leadership role in developing a successful national clinical trials group in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN), which was established in 2001 and has opened more than 40 trials and enrolled more than 9,000 patients. We have done trials that would never have been completed without the Network, and which have changed practice, such as the use of maintenance therapy after autotransplants for myeloma.

What Do You Still Hope to Accomplish Over Your Career?

We are now moving into the area of (nontransplant) cellular therapy for cancer and other diseases, and we are adapting the CIBMTR research infrastructure to meet the needs of this emerging field. I hope to see us play a similar role in advancing the use and outcomes of cellular therapies as we have for transplantation – both by supporting clinical trials and by evaluating effectiveness as these therapies move into more widespread practice.

What Would You Like Your MCW Legacy to Be?

I want my legacy to be the people who come after me…I want to provide the kind of mentorship and support that will enable the next generation to be successful.

What One Piece of Advice Would You Like to Share With Your Colleagues?

Embrace change; it keeps you not only relevant, but alive.


Change Agent highlights a Medical College of Wisconsin faculty or staff member who has had significant impact on the institution's mission to be a leading innovator in transforming healthcare and advancing the health of our communities.

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