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Meet Gary H. Lyman, MD, MPH, FACP, FRCP, FASCO

Feb 24, 2014

Dr. Lyman is Co-Director, Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research; Full Member, Division of Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Pharmacy at the University of Washington; Co-Chair of ASCO's Breast Cancer Guideline Advisory Group and Survivorship Guideline Advisory Group; Chair of ASCO's Clinical Practice Guidelines Methodology Subcommittee; and an ASCO Board of Directors member

Dr. Lyman hiking the Bavarian Alps near Oberstdorf.

AC: What led you to oncology?

Dr. Lyman: My interest in cancer goes back to my early thinking about a career in medicine. The cancer problem seemed then, and even now, to be nearly indistinguishable from the more existential question of life itself. At the same time, watching my father struggle through aplastic anemia only to die at a young age certainly increased my interest in cancer and blood disorders. Oncology and hematology always seemed like the perfect career for combining my basic and clinical research interests with the care of patients who are often facing the most difficult and distressing period in their life.

AC: What's the last book you read?

Dr. Lyman: The Healing of America by T.R. Reid.

AC: What hobbies do you enjoy?

Dr. Lyman: Running and hiking, travel, skiing, and opera.

AC: Do you have a personal motto?

Dr. Lyman: Define your goals, believe in what you are doing, and don't give up.

AC: What is your fondest memory?

Dr. Lyman: Other than the birth of my children and meeting my wife, my fondest memory is my first trip (of many) to Europe. The beauty, rich culture and history, and the joy for life that I saw then—and continue to encounter even in the most unusual places—still enthrall me with each successive trip.

AC: Who is the person you most admire?

Dr. Lyman: Beyond my patients, all of whom I consider heroes, I most admire people who stand up for the less privileged and underserved. Within our own profession, I greatly admire Sir David Weatherall who, despite "retirement," has chosen to further the translation of advances in medicine to the developing world.

AC: What career could you see yourself in if you weren't an oncologist?

Dr. Lyman: I am not sure I see myself in any other career, but I have sometimes wondered about a life as a writer of both historical fiction as well as nonfiction.

AC: What changes do you envision for the field in the next 10 years?

Dr. Lyman: I see many changes over the next decade related to increasing understanding of targetable molecular and genetic changes in malignant cells and host immunity, as well as a deeper understanding of the major role of epigenetics in gene regulation, and the behavior and treatment of malignancy. Likewise, I see further important advances in supportive care and in the required methodologic improvements needed for appropriate analysis of real-world data for measuring and improving the quality of patient care. At the same time, I see a crisis coming for academic medicine if we do not take care to protect this mission and improve our commitment to the next generation of clinical and translational investigators.

AC: What would you say to a young physician thinking about entering the field of oncology?

Dr. Lyman: Despite the challenges associated with modern medical practice, I remain optimistic and can only encourage dedicated young clinicians and researchers to seriously consider oncology as a discipline. Much remains to be discovered, and yet there is considerable opportunity to make a major difference in the lives of patients.

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