How Specialized Treatment Changed Dave’s Polycythemia Vera Experience

In 2006, Dave Boule was diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) that affects blood cell production in the body. After starting phlebotomy treatment, his platelets and red blood cell counts continued to rise, and he started doing research into other options for therapies that might be more effective. This research led him to Dr. Richard T. Silver at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Dave Boule

Dr. Silver, founder and emeritus director of the Weill Cornell Medicine Richard T. Silver MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN) Center, is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field and initiated the development and use of interferons as a treatment for a number of different myeloproliferative neoplasms, including polycythemia vera.

After learning about Dr. Silver’s use of interferons, Dave felt that it would be a better treatment option for him than phlebotomy-only. He reached out to Dr. Silver for a consultation at Weill Cornell, and they began this approach shortly after with beneficial results.

Dave saw Dr. Silver for more than a decade until Dr. Silver’s retirement from clinical care when Dave transitioned his care to Dr. Ghaith Abu-Zeinah at the Silver MPN Center.

“The advantage of having an MPN specialist like those found at the Silver MPN Center at Weill Cornell Medicine is that you receive care from a physician-scientist on the cutting edge of research and treatment who works almost exclusively with MPN patients,” Dave said about his experience. “They have seen most every nuance of the disease and they are fully immersed in the current research findings that bear on your treatment.”

The Weill Cornell Medicine Silver MPN Center is involved in a variety of research initiatives aimed at moving the MPN field forward. "Our scientific and clinical research programs provide patients unique access to many cutting-edge treatments and procedures that will one day allow us to cure MPNs,” said Dr. Abu-Zeinah.

Since Dave’s intial polycythemia vera diagnosis, he has become a strong patient advocate encouraging others to seek specialized care and now sits on the boards of two non-profits that raise funds to support MPN research.

Dave recently shared his story and experience at Weill Cornell Medicine with The Cancer Letter: Dave Boule confronted polycythemia vera with an accountant’s consistency. 

Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia vera (PV) is characterized by an overproduction of red blood cells in the body and is caused by a mutation of the JAK2 gene. JAK2 is part of a signaling system in the body that regulates blood cell production.

Because people with PV have an excess of blood cells, this can cause complications like blood clots in the arteries or veins.


Interferons are signaling proteins that the body makes when it’s fighting infections. Interferons have been developed as drugs to treat a number of conditions, including myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Because interferons are signaling proteins that work with the body’s natural defense system by affecting cell function and growth, these drugs have the ability to control blood counts and reduce clotting risk most commonly seen in MPN patients.

The Weill Cornell Silver MPN Center 

The Weill Cornell Medicine Richard T. Silver MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN) Center provides specialized, cutting-edge care for patients with a variety of myeloproliferative neoplasms. Our team is dedicated to determining the best treatment options for each patient depending on their specific disease and side effects by collaborating with a multidisciplinary team of experts who each play an important role in caring for our patients. 

The Silver MPN Center team also participates in and leads innovative clinical trials aimed at finding new therapy and treatment options, with the goal of advancing science to find cures for MPNs.

MPN treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach and coming to a subspeciality treatment center like the Silver MPN Center provides patients with numerous options and expertise to find the best plan of action to treat and manage their disease.

Richard T. Silver MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Center 525 East 70th St., Starr Pavillion, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10021