About the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program

Welcome to the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship training program website.  We are incredibly proud of our fellows, our program, our institution, and our city. The VCU medical campus boasts state-of-the-art clinical, research, educational, and simulation facilities. But, what makes the VCU experience so rich and the learning climate optimal is the supportive, experienced faculty and the collegiality of the fellows. We invite you to explore our website and learn more about what VCU has to offer you educationally. Throughout the site you will find perspectives from our fellows to give you insight into the VCU Hemotology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program.

Welcome from the Program Director

Welcome from the Program Director

Welcome from the Program Director

Welcome to the VCU Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training program. When I became the program director in 2011, the program consisted of six fellows. In 2022, we completed our most recent expansion to fifteen. As such, in 2023, we are recruiting for five fellowship positions to start hematology-oncology training in July 2023. In every curricular decision we make, our vision and mission remain forefront. The expansions were undertaken to train exceptional hematology-oncology clinicians ready and capable to meet the health care needs of our community and Commonwealth AND to provide the necessary flexibility to afford the time and opportunity for each fellow to pursue her/his personal educational, scholarly, and professional aspirations. 

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Vacation Time
Each fellow is allowed three weeks of vacation per training year. The time is generally taken as either one of the following:

  • Three 7-day vacations
  • One 7-day vacation and one 14-day vacation.

Additionally, each fellow is given five days off during the December holiday period.

Night Coverage
The hematology-oncology fellows provide at-home night and weekend coverage for the outpatient clinic patients, in-hospital consults, and requests for admission/transfer to the hematology and oncology teams. The fellows are expected to return to the hospital as needed while on call to see urgent consults which are then staffed with the attending physician on call. Additionally, the attending physicians provide back-up, supervision, and escalation along with feedback on the triage decisions made by the fellow. Nighttime at-home call is provided by the fellows on the inpatient hematology, inpatient oncology, and inpatient consult services.

Fellows' Perspectives on the Program

"The attendings are always available for any type of support and they care about our education."

James Qu, MD
Class of 2018

Internal medicine residents and faculty members provide in-house coverage for admissions and cross-coverage related to the inpatient hematology and oncology services at night.

The bone marrow transplant services are covered separately. They have an in-house nurse practitioners.  While on the inpatient and ambulatory bone marrow transplant services, the fellow takes night call from home (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), alternating with the transplant attendings as back-up to the in-house practitioner.

Weekend Coverage
Fellows are given one day off in seven averaged over each 2-week block while on the inpatient hematology, inpatient oncology, hematology consults, VA consults, and the bone marrow transplant services. All elective rotations are weekdays only unless on at-risk pull schedule.

When on consult call over a weekend, the fellows see during the day all new consults at both the VCU and Veterans hospitals, which are then staffed with the attending on call for the weekend. Additionally, the on-call fellow rounds on existing consults followed at the VCU and Veterans hospitals as determined by the consult team at the time of weekend check-out or as warranted by changes in a patient’s condition.  On the one weekend they cover consult services, they additionally take at home night call on Saturday night.

GME Resident & Fellow Well-Being
Graduate Medical Education training is not easy. With the GME Physician Well-being program, we first and foremost assert our commitment to your well-being, resilience and all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. VCU and VCU Health are dedicated to ensuring that you have the tools you need to be your best. (Learn more)

All About VCU, VCU Health, and RVA
First things first. We fondly refer to Richmond as RVA.  People love this city because it’s awesome. And Virginia Commonwealth University is in the middle of it all.  Learn more about VCU, VCU Health, and RVA!

J. Christian Barrett, MD

J. Christian Barrett, MD

Program Director

J. Christian Barrett, MD

J. Christian Barrett, MD

Program Director

Internal Medicine

Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care

Email: john.barrett@vcuhealth.org

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View Faculty Expertise Profile

Renato G. Martins, MD, MPH

Renato G. Martins, MD, MPH

Division Chief

Renato G. Martins, MD, MPH

Renato G. Martins, MD, MPH

Division Chief

Internal Medicine

Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care

Email: Renato.Martins@vcuhealth.org

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View Faculty Expertise Profile

Additional Faculty

Class of 2026

Dr. Baralo

Bohdan Baralo, MD 
Medical School:  National Pirogov Memorial Medical University, Vinnytsya, Ukraine 
Residency:  Mercy Catholic Medical Center, Darby, PA 
Chief resident:  Mercy Catholic Medical Center, Darby, PA 

Dr. Etti

Abisola Baruwa Etti,  MBBS 
Medical School:  College of Medicine, University of Lagos 
Residency:  University of Connecticut

Dr. Fadel

Celine Fadel, DO 
Medical School:  Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Blacksburg, Virginia 
Residency:  Northeast Georgia Medical Center – Gainesville, Georgia  

Dr. Maller

Bradley Maller, MD 
Medical School:  University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine 
Residency:  Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Zheng

Guoliang Zheng, MD 
Medical School:  University of Queensland 
Residency:  St. Elizabeth Medical Center  

Class of 2025

Zahra Hamedi, MD

Zahra Hamedi MD
Medical School:  Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences
Residency:  Internal Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

Ahmad Kassam, MD

Ahmad Kassam, MD
Medical School:  American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine
Residency:  MetroHealth System/Case Western Reserve University Program
Chief Resident: MetroHealth System/Case Western Reserve University Program

Hyun Lee, MD

Hyun Lee, MD
Medical School:  Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Residency:  Rhode Island Hospital-Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

David Oliver, DO

David Oliver, DO
Medical School:  Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency:  Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Virginia
Chief Resident: Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Virginia

Palak Shah, MD

Palak Shah, MD
Medical School:  Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University
Residency:  Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Class of 2024

Ashimiyu Durojaiye, MD

Ashimiyu Durojaiye, MD
Medical School:  University of Lagos College of Medicine, Idi-Araba, Lagos
Residency:  Internal Medicine, Yale New Haven Bridgeport Hospital New Haven, CT

Samina Hirani, MBBS

Samina Hirani, MBBS
Medical School:  Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi City, Pakistan
Residency:  Internal Medicine, Louisiana State University, Shreveport LA

Thuy Ho, MD

Thuy Ho, MD
Medical School:  University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA
Residency:  Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

James Liang, MD

James Liang, MD
Medical School:  Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC
Residency:  Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Meric Mericliler, MD

Meric Mericliler, MD
Medical School:  Acibadem Üniversitesi Tip Fakültesi, İstanbul, Turkey
Residency:  Internal Medicine, St. Elizabeth’ Medical Center/Tufts University, Boston, MA


Eligibility Requirements

Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems can only support J-1 visas.

How To Apply

The Hematology-Oncology fellowship training program at VCU is a participant in the NRMP match. All applications will be accepted through ERAS and follow ERAS deadlines.

Required Documentation

  • Application
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • USMLE/COMLEX score reports
  • Medical School Transcripts
  • MSPE
  • Personal statement
  • Internal Medicine Residency Program Director letter
  • 4 letters of recommendation, including one from your program director 
  • Photograph

If applicable, please provide the following:

  • ECFMG certificate 
  • Medical School Diploma (with translation if necessary)


Application Timeline

We will review new applications from July 15 through September 8.

Interview dates for 2024 (subject to change) are anticipated as follows:

  • TBA

Interview Information

Interviews are conducted on select Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.  The exact nature of the interview days has yet to be determined. We are currently anticipating virtual interviews plus established days for elective on-site visits after the interviews have been completed and the program’s rank list has been completed. However, a final decision has not been made at this time.

The in-person interview day typically consisted of the following:

  • Introduction to the program, division, and Massey Cancer Center
  • Interviews with VCUHS and VA-based faculty
  • Tour of the VCUHS facilities
  • Lunch with current fellows
  • A mini driving tour of the Richmond area while en route to the VA Medical Center

Applicants can expect to arrive shortly before 8 a.m. for a full day. Interview days typically end by 4:30 PM.  

The on-line virtual interview half-day consists of the following:

  • An optional meet and greet with the fellows (evening prior)
  • Introduction to the program, division, and Massey Cancer Center
  • Interviews with VCUHS and VA-based faculty  

A sample itinerary is provided to give you a general sense of how we structure the day. See sample intinerary here. 

Attention:  In support of our applicants, we will be flexible in providing virtual and on-site fellowship interview opportunities.  We understand that applicants may have restrictions on travel during this time.  Our interview schedule may change as we approach the late summer and fall.  

Hematology and Oncology Fellowship Program Office

VCU Department of Internal Medicine
Box 980509
Richmond, VA 23298-0509 
Phone: (804) 828-3149
Email: imfellowships@vcuhealth.org

Program Director

J. Christian Barrett, MD
Email: john.barrett@vcuhealth.org

Associate Program Directors

Asit Paul, MBBS, PhD
Email: asit.paul@vcuhealth.org

Uzma Athar, MD
Email: uzma.athar2@va.gov

Program Coordinator

Karen Carr, MD
VCU School of Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine
Box 980509
Richmond, VA 23298-0509
Phone:  (804) 828-9726