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First “clinical trial” in Grade 6 for this doctor

November 2, 2016

I am a medical oncologist and co-medical director of the Hereditary Cancer Program, with Intan Schrader.

I grew up in Toronto, and first became interested in science in grade six.  For my science project that year, I bought samples of acne cream and asked some older (pimply) kids to use and rate the effectiveness of the creams. In retrospect, this was my first randomized phase 2 clinical trial!

I studied genetics at McGill University for six years. There, I became interested in cancer genetics during my graduate studies with Dr. Steven Narod, a co-discoverer of the first hereditary breast cancer genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2. I studied medicine at the University of Toronto and I spent a summer working on a familial testicular cancer project at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. I also went to India to evaluate an HIV prevention study in the brothels of Calcutta, and later worked in hospitals in Pakistan and the Philippines. I was in Calgary for three years for my internal medicine residency, and in 2003, I moved to Vancouver for my medical oncology training at the BC Cancer Agency. After spending a year at the University of Texas Southwestern as a fellow in translational thoracic oncology with Dr. Joan Schiller, I returned to the BC Cancer Agency as a staff medical oncologist in 2007.

I have been very fortunate to have had talented mentors over the years. Dr. Steven Narod inspired me to pursue a career in cancer genetics and oncology. Dr. Nevin Murray has been a key influence—he is why I became a lung cancer specialist. Dr. Joan Schiller has been a personal and professional role model. Last, but not least, Dr. Karen Gelmon has been an invaluable support and mentor throughout my oncology career.

In future posts, Intan and I will share more about the Hereditary Cancer Program.