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Board certified in pediatrics, pediatric hematology/oncology and hospice and palliative care medicine by the American Board of Pediatrics, Dr. Karen Fernandez joined Valley Children’s in November 2016 as the Director of Solid Tumor Program for the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Her areas of clinical interest include the treatment of solid tumors, vascular tumors, Hodgkin lymphoma and cancer in adolescents and young adults.

Dr. Fernandez came to Valley Children’s from the University of  Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, where she developed the solid tumor program and served as the institutional Principal Investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group. While there, she was also an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology and was the first to receive the Jim and Katie Owens endowed professorship in Pediatric Oncology, a position that allowed her to pursue her passion in clinical research in pediatric cancer.  

Dr. Fernandez has presented her work nationally and internationally, and has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Pediatric Blood & Cancer, Journal of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Blood, The New England Journal of Medicine and the Pediatric Clinics of North America.

She is a member of several professional and scientific societies, including the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, International Society of Pediatric Oncology and Children’s Oncology Group.  She is actively involved in various international, national and local professional committees. She serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for various peer reviewed journals, as an academic editor for the journal of Medicine and as an editorial board member of Pediatric Blood & Cancer.

In addition to her clinical and research expertise, Dr. Fernandez has a rich background in teaching and medical education. She is currently a Clinical Associate Professor affiliated with Stanford University, School of Medicine. She is part of the teaching core faculty at Valley Children’s Hospital and oversees the research and scholar activities of the residency program.

Dr. Fernandez is involved in global health initiatives with focus in pediatric hematology and oncology, and has participated in clinical, educational and research projects in the Americas, Asia and Africa.  She is an active member of Central American Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Association (AHOPCA), a volunteer faculty for the pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship in Guatemala and Vietnam and serves as an international expert for the Pediatric Oncology International Network for Training and Education (POINTE)/International Society of Pediatric Oncology for the education of pediatric oncology in developing countries.

Her excellence in clinical research, teaching and scholarships has received numerous awards that recognized her expertise and contributions in the field of pediatric hematology/oncology nationally and internationally.

Dr. Fernandez received her medical degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala. She did her internship and residency in pediatrics at University of Illinois at University of Illinois Medical Center, in Chicago, Illinois. She completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at The Ohio State University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio; and completed a program in palliative care education and practice with focus in pediatrics, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.  

Medical Education

  • Medical SchoolUniversidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala
  • InternshipUniversity of Illinois at University of Illinois Medical Center, in Chicago, Illinois
  • ResidencyUniversity of Illinois at University of Illinois Medical Center, in Chicago, Illinois
  • FellowshipThe Ohio State University, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio