In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Cancer Act, Dr. Natalia Buza shares her motivation for pursing a career in cancer research as a pathologist:
What brought you to work in cancer research?
As a gynecologic pathologist I diagnose malignant tumors of the female genital tract. I work in cancer research to advance the precision diagnosis of these tumors and help discover new treatment options for patients.
Where do you see the future of cancer research?
I believe that our diagnostic precision will continue to improve as we discover novel molecular markers driving tumor development. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of specific tumor types opens up exciting new targeted therapies for patients.
What are some of the advances you have seen so far during your career?
In collaborations with my colleagues at Yale Gynecologic Oncology, we identified a new targeted treatment for an aggressive subtype of endometrial cancer. Tumors that show high expression of HER2 protein or amplification of the HER2 (erbb2) gene may respond to targeted therapy and improve the patients’ prognosis.
Why is it so important to encourage younger and diverse groups to pursue a career in cancer research?
There are many unanswered questions regarding cancer development and progression and there is a need for more treatment options for patients who do not respond to conventional therapies. Younger generations of clinicians and scientists from diverse backgrounds can contribute their unique skills and new ideas to this team effort to continue to move the field forward.
Advice that you would give to someone considering a career in cancer research?
Cancer research is an inspiring and fulfilling career in which you can truly have a great impact in people’s lives. There are many different areas and directions within cancer research that one can choose from, depending on their backgrounds and interests. Pathologists are especially well-positioned at the intersection between basic science and clinical care, so I would definitely recommend considering pathology for anyone who wants to pursue a career in cancer research.
Each individual in the oncology workforce has a unique and impactful story about why they work in cancer research. The National Cancer Institute invites you to share your story of what drives you to work in cancer research and has developed the hashtags #ThisIsWhy and #NothingWillStopUs. Together, let’s inspire the next generation of diverse talent to join us in the fight to end cancer as we know it!