I am a thoracic medical oncologist at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, specializing in the care of patients with lung cancer, mesothelioma, and thymoma. My primary career objective is to investigate the experiences and optimize the care of long-term survivors of lung cancer patients. This interest has been deeply personal, as both of my parents were diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 6 months apart in 2007. At the time, I was fortuitously working in a lab that was studying EGFR mutations in NSCLC, and I was thus able to influence my father's medical care, helping him to obtain erlotinib off-label for the treatment of his metastatic disease. Although my father unfortunately passed away 16 months after his diagnosis, my mother is a long-term survivor over a decade later. These formative experiences have been the driving force in my pursuit of a career in thoracic oncology.
My research interests in the functional aspects of survivorship such as psychosocial aspects, cognitive dysfunction, and physical function have evolved during my training. During my Internal Medicine residency, I worked with Dr. Lois Travis at Indiana University exploring survivorship in testicular cancer, identifying markers of inflammation which could be tracked longitudinally and inform risk of the development of subsequent cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome after platinum chemotherapy. Subsequently, I have found that lung cancer survivors face unique challenges which have changed over the years with the advent of TKI's and immunotherapy. These advances in therapeutic options have resulted in increased survival for many lung cancer patients, and there is now a larger need for lung cancer specific survivorship programming.
My undergraduate psychology experience and my consumer research training at Procter and Gamble have provided me with a background in qualitative research. During my Medical Oncology fellowship, under the mentorship of Dr. Jarushka Naidoo and Dr. Josephine Feliciano, I leveraged my qualitative assessment skills while gaining clinical research experience to identify needs of long-term, advanced stage lung cancer survivors treated with immunotherapy,. Through a qualitative survey of patients, I retrospectively identified that 25% of NSCLC survivors required continued management of long-term toxicities from immunotherapy over one year after the start of their treatment. This was further emphasized in a qualitative interview study done exclusively in survivors with metastatic NSCLC treated with immunotherapy, which identified several themes including long-term psychosocial and physical toxicity, sources of support, financial toxicity, and surveillance. My final fellowship project was a cross-sectional survey exploring physical, social, emotional, financial, and medical needs of patients with all stages of lung cancer which is in the final stages of data analysis. I am expanding this assessment to a more diverse population and will use the preliminary data to inform interventions to address the long-term needs of survivors of lung cancer. I will include patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and emphasize the enrollment of racial and sociodemographical underserved population. My ultimate goal is to study and identify ways to prevent and ameliorate the issues of long-term survivors of lung cancer to provide evidence-based survivorship care.