As you guys know, April is Cancer Control Month. So I thought I would take the time to highlight a young researcher looking for biological predispositions and responses to breast cancer in the bodies of women: Dr. Heather Parsons. A graduate of Dartmouth College, she also received her Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. After receiving her medical degree from Drexel University, she eventually completed her residency and fellowship at John Hopkins Hospital and joined Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Now a medical oncologist for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Parsons is an innovative researcher focusing on the use of blood-based genomic biomarkers to understand individual women’s specific development of breast cancer and her response to treatment. Biomarkers, defined as “objective indications of medical state observed from outside the patient – which can be measured accurately and reproducibly” (National Library of Medicine), are more accurate than symptoms themselves, and will help Dr. Parsons determine exactly how much treatment is effective and necessary for each individual patient’s biological composition.
As cancer treatment stands right now, nobody really knows how much treatment is the right amount for any given patient. Many people will do as many treatments as possible, simply to do as much as they possibly can to eradicate their cancer. However, Dr. Parsons research is looking to discover whether this is actually necessary. With this research, Dr. Parsons is helping direct the course of treatment towards better care, and to help her patients live longer and better lives, not only in the United States, but potentially across the world. She has received many honors for her research and work, amongst them the Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Funds raised in 2015 and 2016, including those from Boston Bakes 2016, will benefit the research of Dr. Parsons, MD, MPH.