Caroline Diorio

Caroline Diorio headshot

Dr. Caroline Diorio is a pediatrician who specializes in treating and studying pediatric cancer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She is also an instructor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on developing a treatment for a form of leukemia called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In addition to her medical degree (MD), Caroline has her bachelor’s degree (BS) in biology and psychology. 

What was your favorite science class? 

I always really loved biology class and math class. I liked biology because I thought it was so interesting to learn about living things. I liked math because there was a right answer that could be figured out.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career related to science?

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a doctor. It wasn’t until I was in medical school and working with physician-scientists that I realized I could be both a doctor and a scientist. I am really fulfilled by being able to both take care of patients and work in a research laboratory.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working with a team of people who have very different skills and are all committed to curing kids’ cancer. I like examining problems from different angles and learning things I haven’t thought of or considering other people’s unique ways of looking at a problem.

What advice do you have for students interested in a STEM care?

Don’t be intimidated by highly technical things. You are smart enough to figure out how to do it. When I was in high school and university, I was so intimidated by coding and computer programming and didn’t think I could possibly do it. But, the further along I got in my training the more I realized that if you are interested in something you can figure it out. There are tons of resources available on the internet and from your colleagues. Stick to it and don’t tell yourself you can’t do something because then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

What current scientific discovery or project are you most excited about?

Recently, scientists at CHOP have adapted a patient’s own immune system to attack a type of childhood leukemia, called B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). This type of treatment is called chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T). CAR-T is really effective for B-ALL, but it hasn’t yet been applied to other types of leukemia. I am currently working on applying CAR-T to a rare type of leukemia involving T cells, called T-ALL. I am really hopeful that this will become a new therapy option for patients with this disease. 

Check out an article and short video featuring Dr. Diorio from the Select Greater Philadelphia Council.