Women in Oncology

Prostate Cancer
Kidney Cancer
Bladder Cancer

Maha Hussain, MD, FACP, FASCO, Credits Collaboration for Her Contributions to Genitourinary Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2017

Internationally recognized genitourinary oncologist Maha Hussain, MD, FACP, FASCO, was born and reared in Baghdad, Iraq. “I came from a family that stressed the value of higher education and especially medicine. I have three uncles who are physicians, and my father encouraged my three siblings and m...

Breast Cancer

Inspired by Her Physician Father, Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, Tirelessly Advocates for Women’s Health and Careers in Medicine

Ronald Piana  /  April 10, 2020

Physician-scientist, Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, was encouraged by her parents to become a politically active, socially conscious citizen of the world. “As a young woman, my mother traveled from Africa on a scholarship to the United States, where she attended the University of Wisconsin. It was in the ...

Breast Cancer

How Laura J. van ’t Veer, PhD, Became an Expert in Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2019

Breast cancer researcher and innovator Laura J. van ’t Veer, PhD, was born and reared in Amsterdam in 1957. “During high school, I had a wonderful biology teacher who was going through his own biology studies at the University of Amsterdam, and he was bringing that university-level education into ...

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Expert Leora Horn, MD, Recalls Her Journey to a Career in Oncology and a Home in Nashville

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2018

The tumultuous history of modern South Africa has numerous stories that lie beneath the surface of the sociopolitical headlines, such as the story of lung cancer expert Leora Horn, MD. “I was born and reared in Johannesburg, South Africa, a second-generation African family. In 1987, because of the i...


Susan M. O’Brien, MD, Embraces the Challenge of Balancing Patient Care With Clinical Trial Investigation

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2016

Susan M. O’Brien, MD, one of the nation’s foremost leukemia experts, told The ASCO Post that she wanted to become a doctor since her earliest memories. “The idea of being able to help sick people always appealed to me,” said Dr. O’Brien, who was born in Manhattan but spent her formative ...

Breast Cancer

For Breast Cancer Specialist Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, Medicine Is a Family Tradition

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2017

Breast cancer specialist Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, was born in Manhasset, Long Island, and grew up several miles east in Muttontown, New York. Since tiny Muttontown didn’t have its own school system, Dr. Partridge went to high school in nearby Locust Valley, a town on Long Island’s North Shore, w...

Clinical Cancer Researcher Gini Fleming, MD, Firmly Believes in the Power of Ideas

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2018

Gini Fleming, MD, had a peripatetic path to her destination as a gynecologic and breast cancer expert. As a child, she moved around a lot, living in about 10 or 12 different places, so she had no real sense of being born and reared in any particular place. “My parents married young, when my fathe...

Surgical Oncologist Quan P. Ly, MD, FACS, Flees From Vietnam and Finds a Home at the University of Nebraska

Ronald Piana  /  August 25, 2016

After the Vietnam War, close to a million refugees, known as “boat people,” fled Vietnam, hazarding the open ocean on dangerously overloaded vessels. The term “boat people” is often used generically to refer to all the Vietnamese (about 2 million) who left their country by any means between 1975 and...

Palliative Care

Diane E. Meier, MD: From Early Lessons in Critical Thinking to 'Palliative Care Everywhere' 

Ronald Piana  /  August 15, 2013

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.  —Helen Keller, Optimism, 1903 Shortly past 8:00 AM on July 1977, Diane E. Meier, MD, FACP, began the first day of her medical internship. Within minutes she would experience another first: the death of a patient ass...

Palliative Care

House Calls With Her Physician Father Sparked an Interest in Palliative Care for Janet L. Abrahm, MD

Ronald Piana  /  April 25, 2019

Nationally regarded palliative care expert Janet L. Abrahm, MD, was born and reared in San Francisco. Her father was a solo practitioner who saw medicine as a great profession. “My father would come home from his office for dinner and when he finished, he’d do house calls, often bringing us with him...

Four Generations of Doctors, One Oncologist, in the Family of Hanna K. Sanoff, MD, MPH

Ronald Piana  /  July 25, 2018

Medicine is a family tradition for Hanna K. Sanoff, MD, MPH. “I was born and reared in a suburb just outside of Philadelphia and lived there my whole life until after college. I was one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a doctor. There were four generations of physicians on my father...

Oncology Researcher Catherine J. Wu, MD, Always Knew She Wanted to Be a Doctor

Ronald Piana  /  December 10, 2018

Catherine J. Wu, MD, Professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was reared in a medical environment, which shaped her career path as a physician-scientist. “Both of my parents are physicians and were trained in internal medicine. Medicine was always part of my life as I grew up, and it seemed like a...

Gynecologic Cancers

Elizabeth M. Swisher, MD, Finds Juggling Research Projects and Clinical Care Improves Both

Ronald Piana  /  December 10, 2016

Elizabeth M. Swisher, MD, Medical Director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, enjoys developing long-term patient relationships and helping patients who are confronted with cancer and terminal issues. She is particularly interested in the genetic...

Never a Doubt About a Career in Medicine for Anne S. Tsao, MD

Ronald Piana  /  November 10, 2018

There was no epiphany or family influences, as long as she can remember; Anne S. Tsao, MD, always wanted to be a doctor or, because of her love for caring for sick animals, a veterinarian. Dr. Tsao was born in Fountain Creek, Pennsylvania, but her parents moved to a suburb just outside of Chicago ...

Breast Cancer

An Early Love of Literature Gives Way to a Career in Breast Cancer Research for Jennifer K. Litton, MD

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2018

Breast cancer specialist Jennifer K. Litton, MD, was born and reared in Leominster, Massachusetts, a small city in the north central part of the state. “I went to parochial schools until seventh grade and then went on to high school in Worcester. Although I enjoyed science early on, I was definite...

Issues in Oncology
Health-Care Policy

First Oncologist Elected AMA President, Barbara L. McAneny, MD, Advocates for Access to Health Care for Everyone

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2017

Since the founding of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847, Barbara L. McAneny, MD, is the fourth woman and first oncologist to be elected President of the venerable medical association. “I’m a generic Midwesterner. I was born in Missouri and raised in Madison County, Illinois, and went ...

Breast Cancer

Gabrielle Rocque, MD, MSPH, Followed Three Generations of Doctors Into a Career in Medicine

Ronald Piana  /  February 10, 2020

In 2017, breast cancer expert Gabrielle Rocque, MD, MSPH, received an American Cancer Society Mentored Research Scholar Grant for her work in enhancing shared decision-making for patients with advanced breast cancer. “I come from three generations of physicians,” shared Dr. Rocque. “My father (Dr...

An Early Love of Nature’s Biodiversity Leads to a Career in Cancer Research for Lisa Coussens, PhD

Ronald Piana  /  November 10, 2019

Founded in 1887, the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) is located in Portland, Oregon, and is home to the cutting-edge Coussens Lab, which focuses on the role of immune cells and their mediators as critical regulators of cancer development. The lab’s eponymous Director, Lisa Coussens, PhD, ...

Supportive Care

For Holly G. Prigerson, PhD, Psychosocial Issues Are at the Heart of End-of-Life Cancer Care

Ronald Piana  /  February 10, 2018

Holly G. Prigerson, PhD, Co-Director of the Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for Research on End-of-Life Care, was born in Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, where her father had been a resident. Her family moved to Long Island, first living in Islip, where Dr. Prigerson’s father practiced medicine in...

Gynecologic Cancers

Early Cancer Experience Plants the Seed for a Career in Oncology to Grow for Joyce F. Liu, MD, MPH

Ronald Piana  /  September 25, 2020

As a young girl growing up in central New Jersey, Joyce F. Liu, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist specializing in gynecologic cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, dreamed of becoming an astronaut. However, she realized her fear of heights and propensity for motion sickness didn’t jive with b...

Merry-Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP, FASCO, Rose From Humble Beginnings to a Leadership Role in Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  April 25, 2020

Merry-Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP, FASCO, grew up in Fort White, Florida, a rural speck on the map in the northern part of the state. Fort White is home to the Ichetucknee River and Springs, a crystal-clear natural wonder known only to the locals until 1972, when it was declared a Nationa...

Issues in Oncology

Doctoring Is a Family Tradition for Medical Oncologist Virginia G. Kaklamani, MD

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2018

Virginia G. Kaklamani, MD, Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio and leader of the center’s breast cancer program, was born and reared in Athens, Greece. “I spent my formative years in Athens, where I attended school. My father is a physician and my mom’s a p...

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Expert Julie R. Brahmer, MD, MSc, Was an Early Believer in Immunotherapy—and Still Is

Ronald Piana  /  December 25, 2019

Lung cancer specialist Julie R. Brahmer, MD, MSc, comes from a long line of Midwest farmers who still run a family operation. “I’m originally from what I would call the middle of nowhere in Nebraska. My father is a sixth-generation farmer, and my mother is a nurse. I was inclined toward medicine at ...

Growing Up in a Medical Family Planted the Seed for a Career in Oncology for Karen Gelmon, MD

Ronald Piana  /  July 10, 2019

Karen Gelmon, MD, was born and reared in Saskatoon, the largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It is surrounded by vast prairie and situated along the Trans-Canada Yellowhead Highway and is home to the University of Saskatchewan. “We lived close to the University,” she shared. “My fa...

Head and Neck Cancer

Maura L. Gillison, MD, PhD, Pioneer in HPV-Related Head and Neck Cancer, Has Often Changed Lanes in Her Career

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2019

When The ASCO Post asked physician-scientist Maura L. Gillison, MD, PhD, where she was from, she answered, “North America.” Actually, she was born in Canada, but her father worked for a large international company, so the family moved regularly through Canada, the United States, and Mexico. “I gr...

An Early Interest in Biology and People Led to a Career in Oncology for Nina Shah, MD

Ronald Piana  /  December 10, 2019

Multiple myeloma expert Nina Shah, MD, was born and reared in the Northeast. During grade school, she developed a passion for science that would lead to an early decision to pursue a career in medicine. “My ninth-grade biology class really got me interested in human biology, and that’s when I bega...

Cancer Researcher Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, Returns to West Virginia to Lead Her Alma Mater

Ronald Piana  /  October 25, 2019

Nationally regarded melanoma researcher Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, was born in La Jolla, California, a seaside community surrounded by ocean bluffs and beaches within the city of San Diego. She was reared in a Navy family that moved from the West Coast to the East Coast during her childhood, eventual...

On the Frontier of Breast Cancer Research With Joyce A. O’Shaughnessy, MD

Ronald Piana  /  October 25, 2018

Nationally regarded breast cancer researcher and clinician Joyce A. O’Shaughnessy, MD, was born in upstate New York, just outside of Albany, where she attended grade school before her family moved to Beverly, Massachusetts, a suburban town 26 miles from Boston, where her family’s roots w...

Hematologic Malignancies

From Italy to Boston, A Love of Molecular Diagnostics Shapes a Career for Valentina Nardi, MD

Ronald Piana  /  June 25, 2018

Valentina Nardi, MD, is a staff pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and her current clinical work includes implementing molecular assays for hematologic malignancies at the Center for Integrated Diagnostics. “I was born in Rome, but I did my high school and college education in Genoa. I...

Gynecologic Cancers

Kathleen M. Schmeler, MD: A Gynecologic Oncology Activist for Underserved Women

Ronald Piana  /  February 25, 2018

Kathleen M. Schmeler, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, was given the “Heroes in Medicine” award from Physician’s Weekly in May 2016. Her primary work is in cervical cancer prev...

Supportive Care

Mackenzi Pergolotti, PhD, OTR/L: A Leader in the Emerging Field of Occupational Therapy in Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  January 25, 2018

Oncology occupational therapist Mackenzi Pergolotti, PhD, OTR/L, was born in Buffalo, New York. “I lived there until I was 6,” she shared. “Then my family moved around the state a bit, finally settling in the small town of Bath, situated near the Finger Lakes—a beautiful area in central New York.”...

Hematologic Malignancies

Born in Chicago, Lymphoma Specialist Sonali M. Smith, MD, Never Left the Windy City

Ronald Piana  /  December 10, 2017

Nationally recognized lymphoma expert Sonali M. Smith, MD, was born and reared in Chicago to a mother who was a pediatrician and allergist, and a father who was an engineer. Her parents were first-generation immigrants from India who placed the value of education second to none. “I became used to...

Hematologic Malignancies

Early Love of Science and Famous Mentor Paved the Way for Gwen L. Nichols, MD, in Hematologic Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  October 25, 2017

Nationally regarded leukemia and lymphoma specialist Gwen L. Nichols, MD, was born in the Bronx, New York, and when she became of school age, her parents moved to the upstate suburb of Chappaqua, where she grew up. Asked if there were any physicians in her family who might have influenced her decisi...

A First-Generation Daughter of Immigrants, Gita Suneja, MD, Holds Community Service in High Esteem

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2020

Radiation oncologist Gita Suneja, MD, was born and reared in St. Louis, the first-generation daughter of two Indian immigrants. “My father came to the United States to pursue a degree in engineering and decided to remain here, feeling it offered greater opportunities for the family,” Dr. Suneja re...

Integrative Oncology

Barrie Cassileth, PhD: A Pioneer in Integrative Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  November 10, 2017

Integrative oncology is an evolving evidence-based specialty providing whole-person care by combining conventional approved cancer treatments with integrative and complementary therapies that best serve the needs of patients based on their diagnosis, prognosis, treatment history, and individual pr...

From Behind the Iron Curtain to a Career in Gynecologic Cancer Research for Daniela Matei, MD

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2020

Daniela Matei, MD, Diana, Princess of Wales Professor of Cancer Research at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, grew up Sibiu, a picturesque Romanian city situated at the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains in historic Transylvania. “Both of my parents were physicians, and some of my ...

Breast Cancer

Monica Morrow, MD, Tumbled Gender Barriers to Build a Career in Surgical Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  June 25, 2017

Breast cancer surgeon Monica Morrow, MD, came from a town in the far northeast reaches of suburban Philadelphia. “I guess because there were only two girls in our family, I was the son my father never had, and he reared me that way. When we were playing catch, if I missed the ball and got hit in t...

After Immigrating From India, Neha Vapiwala, MD, FACR, Followed Her Dream of a Career in Medicine

Ronald Piana  /  August 25, 2020

Neha Vapiwala, MD, FACR, Professor and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Radiation Oncology and newly appointed Dean of Admissions at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Philadelphia, was born in India to parents who aspired to emigrate to the Unit...

Hematologic Malignancies

Transplantation Specialist Karen Ballen, MD, Treasures Long-Term Connections With Her Patients

Ronald Piana  /  January 25, 2020

Karen Ballen, MD, an international expert in stem cell transplantation, particularly for patients who have a difficult time finding a donor, was born and reared in the Bronx in a family that encouraged academic and professional pursuits. “My grandfather was an old-fashioned pediatrician who made h...

Solid Tumors
Breast Cancer

Mentorship From a Past ASCO President and Others Steers a Career to Academic Research

Ronald Piana  /  March 10, 2018

  Breast cancer specialist Stacy L. Moulder, MD, was born and reared in Brookhaven, Mississippi, a small town southwest of the state capital of Jackson. “I was always interested in math and science, and I had a wonderful biology teacher in high school. It was when the advanced placement courses h...

Jennifer Lycette, MD, Takes Pride in Delivering Cancer Care to Those Most in Need in Northwest Oregon

Ronald Piana  /  January 25, 2017

Born and reared in Anchorage, a city located in Southcentral Alaska, farther north than St. Petersburg, Russia, Jennifer Lycette, MD, grew up during the 1970s and 1980s. “We were fairly isolated from the lower 48. We didn’t have cable TV in Anchorage, and I remember my father would turn ...

Her Grandfather’s Medical Practice Inspired Nathalie LeVasseur, MD, BSc, FRCPC, to Improve the Lives of Women With Breast Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  July 10, 2020

At the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting, Nathalie LeVasseur, MD, BSc, FRCPC, received the Annual Meeting Merit Award for a project titled, “Whole-Genome Sequencing in Metastatic Breast Cancer: Lessons Learned From the BC Cancer Personalized Oncogenomics Program.” Along with her clinical work, Dr. LeVasseu...

Breast Cancer

You-Can-Do-Anything Philosophy Early in Life Inspired Breast Surgeon Laura S. Dominici, MD

Ronald Piana  /  June 25, 2020

Breast surgical oncologist Laura S. Dominici, MD, was born and reared in Litchfield, a small town in the southern portion of New Hampshire. “Our house was on a long dirt road, in a very rural area,” she shared. “There were only about 5,000 residents in the town. My mother was a teacher, and my dad w...

Issues in Oncology

The Importance of Supporting the Role of Women Leaders in Oncology

Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO  /  November 25, 2015

I am honored to be the 52nd President of ASCO and thrilled to have followed in the steps of six remarkable women to hold this important leadership position in a professional Society that represents nearly 40,000 oncologists around the world caring for people with cancer. My six female predecessors a...

Katherine E. Reeder-Hayes, MD, Sees Equity as Next Big Challenge in Breast Cancer Care

Ronald Piana  /  December 25, 2017

Breast cancer specialist Katherine E. Reeder-Hayes, MD, MBA, was born on a farm in Morgan County, Alabama. “My family grew soybeans and cotton and raised cattle. None of my family members were in the medical field, but I always felt comfortable around people who were sick or had emergenc...

Breast Cancer
Global Cancer Care

Ghanaian Oncologist Yehoda M. Martei, MD, Seeks Ways to Improve Outcomes in the Developing World

Ronald Piana  /  May 25, 2019

Breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women globally. Due to a lack of early interventions, most women in low- and middle-income countries have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis, conferring a grim prognosis. Yehoda M. Martei, MD, of the Department of Medicine, Divisi...

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Researcher Melissa Johnson, MD, Benefits From Father’s Perspective as Career Military Officer

Ronald Piana  /  November 25, 2018

Lung cancer researcher Melissa Johnson, MD, is a self-described “military brat,” whose father was a career officer in the Marine Corps, serving for more than 35 years. She was born in Oklahoma City and moved nine times during her childhood. When Dr. Johnson was in high school, her father was station...

Issues in Oncology

Fleeing a Revolution, Becoming an Oncologist

Ronald Piana  /  November 25, 2017

Nicaragua, situated between Costa Rica and Honduras, is the poorest country in Central America. Following the U.S. occupation in 1912, the Somoza family began a brutal political dynasty that would end in 1979 during the bloody Nicaraguan Revolution.  Marcela G. del Carmen, MD, MPH, Chief Medical ...

Thyroid Cancer

For Maria Papaleontiou, MD, Research Holds the Key to Improving Care of Patients With Thyroid Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  December 25, 2018

Maria Papaleontiou, MD, whose research interests focus on the complex issues surrounding the management of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease in general, was born on Cyprus, a small island nestled in the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. She recently spoke with The ASCO Post about her life and ...

A Daughter of Immigrant Doctors, Nina Kadan-Lottick, MD, MSPH, Chose a Career in Pediatric Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  May 25, 2020

In 2003, Nina Kadan-Lottick, MD, MSPH, established the regional Yale HEROS multidisciplinary research and clinical program for long-term survivors of childhood cancer survivors, which is the first of its kind in Connecticut and one of the first in the United States. She intends the HEROS program to ...