Interviews: Sarcoma Doctors and Researchers

~Interviews by Christin Garcia, Editor of RIS Update and Sarcoma Survivor~

Dr. Edward ChengDr. Ed Cheng, MD: "It is a privilege"

It is hard to watch patients die. Yet getting to know people who face cancer and seeing how they persevere can be gratifying and inspirational. Treating cancer patients helps keep University of Minnesota Professor and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Ed Cheng grounded and provides him with perspective. Dr. Cheng considers it a privilege to be a physician, to have the opportunity to care for people every day. (Interview: March 2011) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Denis ClohisyDr. Denis Clohisy, MD: Saves Lives
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Denis Clohisy saves lives. With a world-class multidisciplinary team at the University of Minnesota, he is working to save more. RIS funding provides a creative spark and a vital source for a “hopeful research culture” at the U, which may one day contribute badly needed treatment advances for sarcoma. (Interview: November 2010) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. L. Chinsoo ChoDr. Chinsoo Cho, MD: "A great field"

Dr. L. Chinsoo Cho is an Associate Professor and radiation oncologist with the University of Minnesota. Treating sarcoma cancers is “very challenging,” because they may appear anywhere in the body and often are located near critical body structures. In this work, as in life, each person is unique. Dr. Cho considers radiation oncology to be “a great field,” and he finds success in many different outcomes. (Interview: December 2011) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Kathryn DusenburyDr. Katie Dusenbery, MD: “Karen was my patient”
University of Minnesota Professor and Radiation Oncologist Katie Dusenbery has been involved with the Karen Wyckoff Rein in Sarcoma Foundation from the start. After all, she tells us, “Karen was my patient.” She appreciates the support RIS provides for her other patients and looks for ways the physicians can say thank you in return. A founding board member, Dr. Dusenbery has focused on the education aspect of RIS’ mission. She loves introducing medical students to oncology. Each time she does, there is “one more person who knows how wonderful cancer patients are.” To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Emily GreengardDr. Emily Greengard: Passionate about her patients
Emily Greengard is one of the newest members of the Rein in Sarcoma team. A pediatric medical oncologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Greengard has become involved with the Medical Advisory Committee so central to the work of the Red Flags team. Passionate about treating her patients and having the opportunity to combine her practice with research in an academic environment, Dr. Greengard says “it’s nice to wake up every morning and think there’s nothing else you’d rather do.” To read the interview, click here.

Dr. David LargaespadaDr. David Largaespada, PHD: "Exciting New Research? Let’s Try It!"
Could you ever imagine sarcoma cancer, with a fairy tale ending? University of Minnesota Professor and cancer geneticist Dr. David Largaespada is working hard to make this happen. Through creative collaboration with others at the University and supported in part by RIS, Dr. Largaespada seeks both to better understand how cancer grows in people and to find new ways to stop it. (Interview: Decemeber 2010) To read the interview, click here.

McAllister-NancyDr. Nancy McAllister, MD: "Engaged in the Mission
In the three years since she first attended a Rein in Sarcoma event, pediatric oncologist Dr. Nancy McAllister has become deeply engaged in its mission.As a Children's Hospitals and Clinics physician, She is connecting her patients with RIS, welcoming patients at the summer Party and partnering with the Red Flags team to increase awareness throughout the community. We are so excited about this collaboration. (Interview: May 2012) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Jaime F. ModianoDr. Modiano V.M.D, PHD : "Dog Doctor, Your Doctor?"
University of Minnesota Professor Jaime Modiano is a dog doctor, whose passion for treating his animal patients may translate into new medicine for you. Dogs get sarcoma cancers, naturally, at a much higher rate than people do. They also have much shorter life spans than people. We can learn a lot by studying dogs, and can quickly determine which new treatments may be best, for them and for us. University scientists, medical doctors and veterinary doctors are working together on many exciting research projects, including those for angiosarcoma and osteosarcoma. Dr. Modiano says: “I’m doing something I love to do,” which may end up helping people and their pets. (Interview, March 2011) To read the interview, click here.

Okuno-scottDr. Scott Okuno MD: Looking for Better Outcomes

Dr. Scott Okuno is an Oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he treats patients who have sarcoma. He works with a team of people who have different specialties, “a good group of people,” who are “learning all the time” and who put their knowledge together to decide how best to treat patients. He is a Professor of Oncology, and in his academic research, he collaborates with physicians across the Midwest to design studies that will help doctors find better treatments for their patients. Dr. Okuno also advises Rein in Sarcoma, in an exciting new partnership. To learn more about Dr. Okuno, click here.

Dr. Christian OgilvieDr. Christian Ogilvie, MD: "Embracing Education"
University of Minnesota Associate Professor and orthopaedic surgeon Christian Ogilvie chose medicine so he could practice science, while working directly with people. He likes teaching people, educating patients. And he likes to fix things. He appreciates the chance to make a big difference in someone’s life, in a moment. To restore them, perhaps, to what they could do before. To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Amy SkubitzDr. Amy Skubitz, PHD: Fascinated By Science
It can be really hard to love sarcoma cells when you’re a cancer patient. Yet your future may depend on scientists finding them fascinating. Meet University of Minnesota Professor and tumor biologist Amy Skubitz, who finds cancer cells to be the most interesting in the human body. We can embrace this interest, as she has focused her talents on discovering better ways for doctors to find, predict and stop cancer cells. Often working in collaboration with others at the University, including her husband oncologist Keith Skubitz, Dr. Amy Skubitz has received more than one RIS grant award. What is it about cancer cells? What does a tumor biologist really do? And how can your tumor cells be used to improve cancer treatments? (Interview, January 2011) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Keith SkubitzDr. Keith Skubitz, MD: Absolutely, Science Helps
University of Minnesota Professor and medical oncologist Keith Skubitz has been treating people with sarcoma cancer for over 20 years. Maybe, he is your doctor. What he really seems passionate about is finding ways for science to help doctors deliver better treatments to their patients. This can mean anything from more effective drugs to portable pumps, which allow patients to take their chemo home. (Interview, June 2011) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Logan SpectarLogan Spector, PhD: Hunting the Why
Logan Spector is not a medical doctor, but he does have the opportunity to talk with families as part of his research work. In his experience, the first question asked by parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer is: What’s going to happen to my child? The second question is: Why did this happen to my child? Epidemiologists like Dr. Spector are “here to investigate the why.” (Interview, October 2011) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Subbaya SubramanianDr. Subbaya Subramanian, PHD: “Let’s make sarcoma the disease of the past”
In 2008, KWRISF funded work done by Dr. Subramanin, in collaboration with Dr. Jaime Modiano, which allowed them to develop a research proposal for further funding from the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota. The AHC awarded an additional $200,000 in 2009, which will support continued efforts to understand the gene networks that contribute to osteosarcoma development and progression. (Interview, February 2009) To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Brenda WeigelDr. Brenda Weigel, MD: "The Hope Doctor"

I once heard University of Minnesota Associate Professor and medical oncologist Brenda Weigel referred to as “the hope doctor.” It is easy to see why this could be so. Dr. Weigel radiates a sincere and vital hope, fueled by her research seeking better cancer treatments but grounded in her experience treating cancer patients. “Far too often,” she has faced situations where there is “nothing else to do” for patients. But she also has seen recoveries in recent years that would have been unimaginable, just 10 years ago. (Interview, September 2011). To read the interview, click here.

Dr. Felasfa WodajoDr. Felasfa Wodajo, MD: "The Real Story"
Dr. Felasfa Wodajo was “humbled and honored” by our request to interview him, because he finds that “actually, it is the patients fighting sarcoma who are the real stories.” An orthopedic oncologist, he leads the Musculoskeletal Tumor Program at Virginia Hospital Center. His Oncology Nurse Coordinator meets with patients and families, and likes to refer them to support groups and resources. She found the RIS Sarcoma Notebook on line. As Dr. Wodajo recalls, those books “lit us up” and they began offering the books to their patients. Some patients became so moved they decided to give back to RIS, and a great connection has been strengthened. To read more about Dr. Wodajo’s story, which began in Ethiopia and includes Minnesota ties, please click here.

Dr. Julie ChuDr Julie Chu - Caring for the Individual
Dr. Julie Chu, a Hematology-Oncology physician at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, loves to care for her individual patients. And when the person with cancer is a child, family members too become like patients. Pediatric cancer medicine is very family-centered, and the wishes, feelings and perspectives of the adults will impact the care of a child. Each child is a person, not a number or a diagnosis. Many different aspects of each person will impact their illness, their care and their coping. (Interview, September 2013) To read the interview, click here.