Thank you for attending our recent scientific research meeting. What was your top takeaway? One of the things that struck me was the success of using three drugs to combat HIV and how successful this approach has been. We use combination therapy in cancer, but rarely can we apply three drugs at once due to toxicity. This has to be our goal as using multiple drugs at once makes resistance less likely to occur.
Please tell us a little about your research funded by the T.J. Martell Foundation. The work funded at Vanderbilt spans most of the critical cancer types from breast cancer to lung cancer to leukemia. This work is aimed at not only making new drugs, but using the drugs we have in a smarter way.
Why and how did you begin doing this type of work? I got hooked in graduate school. I had a mentor in college who suggested graduate school and once I started discovering new information never before uncovered, I was hooked. We do “hypothesis” based research where we test our best guesses, so its a little like gambling and its easy to get hooked.
Why is the T.J. Martell Foundation’s continued support so important to your research? The support of the T. J. Martell Foundation supports every aspect of our work in that it allows us to try risky new experiments and develop new veins of discovery that would not be funded by the NIH.
What are some of the most important things people can do to decrease their cancer risk? Don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and screen, screen, screen—colonoscopy when you are 50, prostate and breast exams, and make sure that your kids and grandchildren get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine will prevent cervical cancer and half of head and neck cancers in men and women.
Dr. Scott Hiebert is Associate Director for Basic Science Research and Shared Resources, Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Biochemistry, Associate Professor of Medicine, and Researcher at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville.