Women in Oncology

National Inventors Hall of Fame Recognizes Jennifer Doudna, PhD; Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD; and Angela Hartley Brodie, PhD

The ASCO Post Staff  /  October 10, 2023

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) recognizes the enduring legacies of exceptional U.S. patent holders on an annual basis. On October 26, 2023, three female inductees will be recognized for their extraordinary contributions to cancer care and clinical research. Biochemist Jennifer Dou...


Kerryn Reding, PhD, MPH, RN, Daughter of Health-Care Workers, Chooses a Career in Breast Cancer Survivorship

Ronald Piana  /  February 10, 2022

Kerryn Reding, PhD, MPH, RN—whose research focuses on reducing cancer incidence and improving survival, with particular interests in lifestyle interventions and biomarkers of risk—was born in Australia, but her family moved to Iowa when she was a toddler. “Both of my parents were in health care. My ...

From Immigrant Roots to a Budding Career in Oncology, Gladys Magaly Rodriguez, MD, Aims to Advance Health Equity in Vulnerable Populations

Ronald Piana  /  December 25, 2022

Gladys Magaly Rodriguez, MD, was born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, a city situated along the banks of the Rio Grande. At age 6, her family immigrated to Eagle Pass, Texas, a border town of some 30,000 people that is predominantly Latinx and Spanish speaking. “Even though I lived and attended school in...

World Travel Helped Brittany L. Bychkovsky, MD, MSc, Shape Her Global Commitment to Breast Cancer Care

Ronald Piana  /  December 10, 2022

Breast cancer specialist Brittany L. Bychkovsky, MD, MSc, grew up primarily in Kansas; however, given that her father was a pilot, her childhood was not wholly centered in the Sunflower State. “When I was 12 years old, my mom, who was a schoolteacher, was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Her ...

Before Becoming a Leader in Multiple Myeloma Research, Sarah A. Holstein, MD, PhD, Considered a Career in Music

Ronald Piana  /  November 25, 2022

Myeloma expert Sarah A. Holstein, MD, PhD, was born and reared in Iowa City, a college town in eastern Iowa along the banks of the Iowa River. “The town itself is small, but it doubles in population when all the college students are present. Both my parents had a PhD in humanities, so I had no expos...

Global Cancer Care

Clinical and Translational Researcher Rossana Berardi, MD, Works to Overcome the Gender Gap in Oncology in Italy

Ronald Piana  /  October 25, 2022

In our continuing effort to connect and learn more about our international oncology colleagues, The ASCO Post recently spoke with Rossana Berardi, MD, Professor in Medical Oncology and Director of the Postgraduate School of Oncology at the Università Politecnica Marche, Ancona, Italy, where she is D...

An Early Encounter With Cancer Sets a Path to a Career in Oncology Research

Ronald Piana  /  August 25, 2022

To shed some light on the importance of caring for the whole patient and his or her caregiver, as well as the role of cellular aging and oncogenesis, The ASCO Post recently spoke with Kaumudi Bhawe, PhD, a clinical scientist with Cancer Commons in Mountain View, California. Dr. Bhawe has more than...

Inspired by the TV Show M*A*S*H, Lori Wilson, MD, FACS, Achieves Many Firsts as a Leader in Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  July 10, 2022

Lori Wilson, MD, FACS, Chief of Surgical Oncology, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Diversity, and former Program Director of the General Surgical Residency at Howard University Hospital, is the first woman to hold the position of Division Chief as well as the first tenured Professor of Sur...

From a Small Village in China to Cutting-Edge Clinical Cancer Research for Cynthia X. Ma, MD, PhD

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2022

Cynthia X. Ma, MD, PhD, was born in a small village in Hebei, a province in the Central China region. “I grew up in a poor village with less than 1,000 people. We had no medical services in our village, so we had to travel to the city to see a doctor, which was quite some distance away. In the 1960s...

Breast Cancer

The Road to a Career in Breast Oncology Took Several Twists and Turns for Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, FACP

Ronald Piana  /  March 10, 2022

Breast cancer specialist Sara A. Hurvitz, MD, FACP, grew up in the East Bay area of Northern California, the youngest of five children. “My mother was a traditional stay-at-home mom, and my father was a probation officer. I come from a long line of artists; my great-grandfather on my mother’s side w...

An Adventurous Spirit Led to a Prominent Role in Radiation Oncology for Geraldine Jacobson, MD, MPH, MBA, FACR, FASTRO

Ronald Piana  /  January 25, 2022

Geraldine Jacobson, MD, MPH, MBA, FACR, FASTRO, founding Chair of the West Virginia University (WVU) Department of Radiation Oncology, was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Her father was a military officer, and his various duty posts offered an adventurous childhood for Dr. Jacobson. “One of my earlie...

Gastrointestinal Cancer
Global Cancer Care

Gastrointestinal Oncologist Katherine Van Loon, MD, MPH: A Pioneer in Global Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  September 25, 2021

Katherine Van Loon, MD, MPH, was raised in Miami, until the age of 12, and then her family relocated to Atlanta, where she spent her junior and high school years. “If you ask my parents about my decision to become a doctor, they will say I first declared it at age 5. Nobody knew how that idea came t...

Emily K. Bergsland, MD: Specializing in Neuroendocrine Tumors, With a Broad Focus on Collaborative Research

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2021

Gastrointestinal oncologist Emily K. Bergsland, MD, was born and spent her formative years in La Crosse, Wisconsin, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. “No one in my family was in the medical field; however, both my parents valued higher education. In fact, when I was in high school, my ...

Gastrointestinal Oncologist Focuses on Both the Art and Science of Treating Patients With Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  September 10, 2021

Chloe Atreya, MD, PhD, was born and reared in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her mother is a poet, and her father is a planetary physicist and a professor at the University of Michigan. “Some of my early memories that influenced my decision to go into medicine stem from conversations I had with my father abou...

From Istanbul to Orange County, an Oncologist’s Journey to a Leadership Role in Quality Care

Ronald Piana  /  August 10, 2021

Pelin Cinar, MD, MS, was born and reared in Istanbul, Turkey. “My father ran a small furniture business, and my mother was a homemaker. However, I had a distant cousin who was an obstetrician-gynecologist, but he did house calls and treated any number of health issues in the community. Early on, I...

Geriatric Oncology

An Epiphany During Fellowship Led to a Career in Geriatric Oncology for Heidi D. Klepin, MD, MS

Ronald Piana  /  May 25, 2021

Geriatric oncologist Heidi D. Klepin, MD, MS, was born and reared in Pearl River, a hamlet on the west side of the Hudson River in New York. “My parents are German immigrants who came to the United States in the 1960s looking for prospects. Growing up in post-war Germany, neither had the opportunity...

A Sense of Duty Shapes the Career of Medical Oncologist Aparna Parikh, MD

Ronald Piana  /  May 10, 2021

By way of her family lineage, Aparna Parikh, MD, seemed destined for a career in medicine. “Both of my parents are physicians, as well as my maternal grandfather. I have two other siblings, all of whom are in the medical field. Medicine has always been part of my life since childhood. My parents are...

Global Cancer Care

Lydia Pace, MD, MPH: A Primary Care Physician on the Front Lines of Oncology, Both Nationally and Globally

Ronald Piana  /  March 25, 2021

Lydia Pace, MD, MPH, was inspired to a become a doctor by her grandfather, a general surgeon in New York City, who spoke effulgently of his career in medicine, and by her mother, a social worker who was equally passionate about her profession. A primary care physician, Dr. Pace developed an interest...

Gastrointestinal Oncologist Laura Goff, MD, Sees Potential in Emerging Immunotherapies and Novel Targeted Agents

Ronald Piana  /  January 25, 2021

Laura Goff, MD, Medical Director of the Hematology and Oncology Division at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, was born in Chicago but reared in Lewisville, a suburb of Dallas. “I come from a long line of nurses, which early on influenced my decision to pursue a career in medicine. Moreov...

Daughter of a Dance Band Leader Becomes Nationally Regarded Expert in Disparities of Cancer Care

Ronald Piana  /  December 25, 2020

Electra D. Paskett, PhD, was born in New York City, the daughter of a Greek immigrant who led a notable dance band. As a young child, Dr. Paskett frequented her parents’ rehearsal and dance studio, which was situated above a bustling Woolworth’s Five-and-Dime store. One of the studio’s famous client...

An Early Love of the Duck-Billed Platypus Sparks a Career in Cancer Research

Ronald Piana  /  December 10, 2020

Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, Co-Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, was born and reared in North Platte, a small city located in the west-central part of Nebraska. “My love of science was sparked and nurtured by my father, who was a chemistry professor for 3...

A Daughter of Immigrants Chooses a Challenging but Rewarding Career in Surgical Oncology

Ronald Piana  /  November 25, 2020

Nationally recognized oncologic surgeon Sandra L. Wong, MD, MS, FASCO, FACS, was born and raised in Stockton, California, a city on the San Joaquin River, in California’s Central Valley. “My parents were both immigrants, but unlike the stereotypical picture of hard-driving immigrant parents who pres...

Daughter of an Orthopedic Surgeon, Abigail T. Berman, MD, Finds Radiation Oncology Intriguing

Ronald Piana  /  October 25, 2020

Radiation oncologist Abigail T. Berman, MD, was born and reared in Philadelphia, the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon whose passion for his work was an early influence on her decision to pursue a career in medicine. “My father absolutely adored his job and worked very hard, which inspired me to see...

Pancreatic Cancer

Surgical Oncologist Diane M. Simeone, MD, Strives to Improve Outcomes for Patients With Pancreatic Cancer

Ronald Piana  /  October 10, 2020

Despite decades of research and clinical advances, the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer remain formidable challenges. Recently, enormous efforts have been made to develop new methods for the early diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer, such as those led by Diane M. Simeone, MD, a ...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 ...

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...

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

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...

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...

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 ...

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...

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, ...

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...

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...

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 ...

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...

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...

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...

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.”...

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...

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...

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...


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 ...

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...