What are your current research interests and/or what is a project you are currently working on?
I have a trial open to enrollment along with my translational colleague, Dr. David Tran, testing a hypothesis related to dormant tumor cells in bone marrow as a potential cause of breast cancer recurrence. It is investigating a new treatment strategy for women with a high risk of recurrence of their breast cancer, those with Triple Negative Breast Cancer not eliminated by preoperative chemotherapy. I have another noninterventional project also open to enrollment to evaluate hypomagnesemia as a possible toxicity of Pertuzumab, a medication used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer.
I have gained an appreciation for retrospective data, which may not at first seem as exciting as prospective data, but presents an opportunity to rapidly bring forward all of the possible gains that can be made from existing information. I have completed projects both from institutional data and from SEER database and am working on a manuscript from a NCDB project. There are many questions that just don’t lend themselves to being answered in a prospective trial.
Most of my research work has involved selection of multicenter clinical trials best suited to the patients we care for at UF. This involves striking a balance of participating in potentially practice-changing national and international clinical trials and good resource stewardship.
How did you end up going into medicine and/or why did you decide on your specialty?
I initially wanted to practice primary care, but now I cannot imagine another field I would enjoy more than I do medical oncology. I prefer outpatient to inpatient, really enjoy pharmacology and clinical research, and do not at all miss doing procedures! I especially love the long-term relationships with patients and families and the significance and intensity a cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions involve.
What do you want to achieve with your work and/or in your career?
First and last, I want to take care of patients like I would my own family.
Besides that I hope to contribute to work that reduces health care waste/low value health care; our system has endless opportunities to improve efficiency, and this is one of my passions. Like so many of my colleagues, I am perpetually heartbroken over the disparities that continue to be determinants of health in our country and want to play a role in finding solutions. I appreciate the mentorship I continue to receive in terms of clinical trial development and also enjoy the opportunity to mentor fellows.
What excites you about your work? What is exciting to you about your field right now?
Breast cancer is a really fast-paced and exciting field to be in. Increasingly patients receive either escalation or de-escalation of care, a more nuanced approach based on contemporary understanding of tumor biology. This is especially satisfying to see in clinic as only patients who really require toxic treatment are exposed.
What do you like to do outside of work?
My three children are my greatest joy and keep me busy, exhausted and grateful. A perfect day for me is spent outside, hiking, at the beach or skiing. I read a lot, everything from nonfiction to suspense to historical fiction. I have just started to learn to play tennis and am really enjoying it so far!