Francesca Ferraro, MD, PhD

Washington University in St. Louis

Titles + affiliations

Assistant Professor
Washington University in St. Louis


Characterizing the molecular and functional landscape of extramedullary acute myeloid leukemia and its contribution to leukemia relapse to improve patients' outcomes


This project aims to better understand a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest adult cancers, with an overall survival rate of approximately 25% at 5 years. Despite initial treatment success, AML frequently relapses, leading to acquisition of progressive drug resistance and to decrease chances of survival. This project aims to investigate a phenomenon known as extramedullary AML (e-AML), which occurs when leukemia cells spread beyond the bone marrow. Through extensive supporting data, the hypothesis is that e-AML is a major cause of chemotherapy resistance and relapse for patients suffering from AML. The proposed experiments will explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the establishment of e-AML, how it differs from bone marrow AML, and how it escapes chemotherapy ultimately causing relapse. Given that current diagnostic and treatment modalities do not account for e-AML, by identifying e-AML as a critical biomarker and therapeutic target, this study has the potential to improve diagnostic and treatment algorithms, disease-monitoring strategies, and survival rates of patients with this blood cancer.

From her - Ferraro 300x300

Leukemia Research Foundation grant
$150K awarded in 2023

Disease focus
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

Research focus
Relapse Prevention