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Innovative Cancer Research Physician Joins Phoenix Children's

PHOENIX (SEPTEMBER 23, 2021) — Phoenix Children’s today announced that Mario Otto, MD, PhD, has been appointed Director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) and Division Chief of Hematology/Oncology at Phoenix Children’s.

Mario Otto, MD

Mario Otto, MD, PhD

With his extensive background in both pediatric research and patient care, Dr. Otto will be instrumental in helping Phoenix Children’s continue its aggressive growth surrounding state-of-the-art translational research and clinical research.

“Phoenix Children’s has a long-standing reputation for clinical excellence and providing world-class pediatric care and we welcome Mario Otto to our growing team of renowned researchers,” said Phoenix Children’s physician in chief, Dr. Jared Muenzer. “Harnessing his expertise, in conjunction with the stellar clinical team, we can advance new therapies and technologies right here at Phoenix Children’s that will yield great outcomes for kids with cancer for decades to come.”  

A highly decorated researcher, Dr. Otto has focused his research in two primary areas: the use of novel targeting agents to beat cancer while limiting toxicity to healthy tissues and immune system modifications through stem cell selection techniques.

“Phoenix Children’s has long been known for clinical excellence,” said Phoenix Children’s CEO Robert L. Meyer. “That’s made us a desired destination for physicians of all specialties. With the addition of Dr. Otto and others like him, we’re solidifying our reputation for innovative and life-saving research as well.”

Among other responsibilities, Dr. Otto will use his working knowledge to advance translational research that can change the lives of children today. He will direct a team of more than 130 faculty and staff and will oversee more than 165 existing research studies, including Phase I and II studies with medications to treat acute leukemias, solid tumors, lymphomas, hemophilia and sickle cell disease. Through CCBD, Phoenix Children’s is a member of multiple consortiums aimed at advancing treatment for pediatric cancer, including Children’s Oncology Group, Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, Beat Childhood Cancer, and others. Phoenix Children’s is also a lead hospital in the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators’ Consortium.

Further, Dr. Otto will serve as the Doris S. Norton Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Most recently Dr. Otto held an Associate Professor position in the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He completed his MD and PhD training in Germany. During his training, Dr. Otto was mentored by Dr. Rupert Handgretinger, an international leader in new techniques related to improving the safety of stem cell transplants. In collaboration with Dr. Handgretinger, Dr. Otto helped develop a type of cell selection that is now broadly used throughout the world.

After his pediatric residency in Germany, Dr. Otto joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He then completed his U.S. pediatric residency training at Akron’s Children’s Hospital in Ohio, after which he returned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to complete a clinical fellowship in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.

Beyond securing numerous grants for his research, Dr. Otto has been honored with awards from the American Association of Immunologists, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer and the Hyundai Hope On Wheels Pediatric Cancer Foundation, among others. He’s an active member of research and medical groups, including, Children’s Oncology Group, American Association for Cancer Research, German Society for Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, American Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, European Society for Paediatric Oncology, American Association of Immunologists, International Society for Paediatric Oncology and Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer.

About Phoenix Children’s 

Phoenix Children’s is one of the nation’s largest pediatric health systems. It comprises Phoenix Children’s Hospital–Main Campus, Phoenix Children’s Hospital–East Valley at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, four pediatric specialty and urgent care centers, 11 community pediatric practices, 20 outpatient clinics, two ambulatory surgery centers and six community-service-related outpatient clinics throughout the state of Arizona. The system has provided world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families for more than 35 years. Phoenix Children’s Care Network includes more than 850 pediatric primary care providers and specialists who deliver care across more than 75 subspecialties. For more information, visit

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