Dr. Lawrence Afrin

Hematology/Oncology & Mast Cell Disease Specialist

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Dr. Lawrence Afrin is an integral part of the AIM Center care team.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and graduating summa cum laude and valedictorian from Clemson University in 1984, Dr. Afrin pursued medical school, internal medicine residency, and clinical and research fellowships at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) 1984-1995.

While on MUSC’s Hematology/Oncology faculty 1995-2014, he also served in several senior institutional positions regarding information technology, directed the hematology/oncology fellowship training program 1997-2010, directed the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Clinical Trials Program 2008-2014, and pursued additional research in medical informatics.

He won numerous recognitions for his educational and research efforts.  He then transitioned to the University of Minnesota’s Hematology/Oncology faculty 2014-2017 to further his developing clinical, research, and educational interests in mast cell disease, particularly mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and while there also served in administrative positions in clinical research, education, and informatics.

Dr. Lawrence Afrin

In 2017 he joined Armonk Integrative Medicine in Armonk, New York to pursue, alongside Dr. Dempsey, the development of an independent center for advancing care, research, and education regarding mast cell disease, especially MCAS.

Reflecting the practice’s updated approach, and engineered to accommodate the MCAS patient population, the AIM Center for Personalized Medicine was opened in newly constructed space in Purchase, New York where the team is fully committed to helping patients heal and thrive.

Dr. Afrin has published extensively in the peer-reviewed medical literature.

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You can find Dr. Afrin’s highly impactful work in the form of:

  • 73 articles published to date (one persisting ever since as that journal’s most read article)
  • Half as first author, another quarter as senior author
  • More than 20 additional first-author abstracts, several first- or sole-author chapters, and one multi-author book) and has delivered
  • Nearly 200 invited presentations and lectures in his areas of interest throughout the world.
  • Editorial boards of numerous hematology/oncology and informatics journals, including serving as the associate editor for the Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association 2002-2014.
  • Numerous national committees and boards in his areas of interest.
  • Sole-author of the first book about MCAS, consistently acclaimed by physicians and patients since its publication in 2016.

Dr. Afrin resides near the AIM Center and is husband to Jill, a retired telepsychiatrist with career-long expertise in serving the hearing-impaired population, and father to two children, Jessica, a graduate in TV/radio production and developing a career in media, and Michael, a graduate in informatics and developing a career in financial information technology.

Professional Affiliations

American Board of Internal Medicine
American Society of Hematology

American Society of Hematology (ASH) and an inactive member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Get to Know Dr. Afrin

What is your “why”? Why do you do what you do and how does that impact your work?

I do what I do because (1) it’s nice to see the unwell — particularly those who have been long and mysteriously unwell — get better and gain the enjoyments of life previously denied them (our lives are short, and every day lost to unwellness is at least a minor tragedy), and (2) it’s nice to see colleagues — particularly those who have been increasingly burnt out by their many daily challenges, including the challenges of trying to help the many patients who fit the previously described category — gain the undeniable pleasure of being able to help such patients finally find accurate diagnoses and helpful treatments.

If you could snap your fingers and be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be?

Probably either on the International Space Station — but that doesn’t truly count as being “anywhere in the world,” now, does it? — or at least at Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center to watch a launch (or two or three, as they’re now happening a lot more frequently than in the old days, thanks largely to SpaceX). It strikes me that a launch as seen on TV can’t possibly come close to the real thing. IMAX is probably the next best thing to the real thing but still can’t come close. All things space and technology, and science fiction, have long been interests of mine, and I’ve wanted to see a major rocket launch since I was a kid. Actually came close, a long time ago, to being able to watch one, but the originally scheduled launch was scrubbed at the last minute, and I couldn’t stick around long enough for the rescheduled launch a few days later.

Favorite thing to do in your free time?

Free time doesn’t happen often for me, but in addition to using it for “family time,” I enjoy just *thinking* more about this disease in which I’ve come to focus and dialoguing about it with colleagues with similar interests. I very much enjoy the rare occasions when I can play my piano and pursue recreational reading (mostly science fiction, of course).

One piece of advice you give to ALL patients.

I have TWO pieces of advice really.

(A) Identify your triggers as precisely as you can, and then do your best to avoid them (at least initially, until the disease is brought under better control), for the simple reason that it’s pretty hard for any *drug* to gain good, sustained control over dysfunctional mast cells as long as the patient is simultaneously and persistently ingesting, or otherwise exposing himself/herself to, a *trigger*.

(B) Try to keep in mind the principles for successfully managing this extraordinarily biologically complex disease: patience, persistence, and a methodical approach (i.e., one change in the regimen around any point in time, to the extent possible). We are fortunate there are a lot of treatments already found for this newly recognized (not new, but newly recognized) disease which have been shown to be significantly helpful in various patients, and it’s admittedly frustrating that we have no way yet to reliably predict which treatments will best help which patients, but I have learned well that if both the patient and the doctor are sufficiently patient, persistent, and methodical, the odds are good that the patient who’s been definitively diagnosed with MCAS will eventually (sooner or later) find some “cocktail” of MCAS-targeted interventions that really will get the patient to the goal of feeling significantly better than the pre-treatment baseline the majority of the time.