Bridging Science and Compassion in Cancer Care


In the second episode of Emerging Experts, Hemali Batra-Sharma, MD, discusses her passion for oncology and some of the experiences that have helped to shape her career.

In this episode of Emerging Experts, host Jordyn Sava is joined by Hemali Batra-Sharma, MD, fellow, Hematology/Oncology, University of California San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center, UCSD Health, to discuss insights into her passion for oncology and some of the experiences that have helped to shape her career.

Her journey started with a curiosity for immunology research, leading her to medical school where she discovered an interest in hematology/oncology during rotations. One pivotal moment in her career occurred during a 2-month elective in Mumbai, India, where she worked alongside experienced oncologists, sealing her passion for hematology/oncology.

Batra-Sharma discussed her passion for oncology by highlighting the dynamic field, its multidisciplinary approach to thinking about the disease, and the blend of scientific innovation and patient care. Oncologists continually challenge their understanding of tumor biology and collaborate across specialties to advance patient outcomes. According to Batra-Sharma, the mix of personalized care with the ability to be with patients during their most challenging moments, makes oncology a uniquely rewarding profession.

“Patients are like our family…we want to take the best care that we possibly can for them. I feel that our patients make us who we are, our patients and our mentors, and I feel really lucky to be able to practice in this field,” said Batra-Sharma.

Previously, Batra-Sharma delved into research focused on patients with metaplastic breast cancer, an aggressive subtype that poses significant challenges in treatment. Working closely with her mentor, Rebecca A. Shatsky, MD, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, they looked to further understand the genetic complexities of this type of cancer.

Within this research, various treatment modalities were explored, including targeted therapies, and show potential avenues for improved patient outcomes. With these findings, Batra-Sharma and Shatsky were able to highlight the importance of individualized approaches in managing aggressive cancers, such as metaplastic breast cancer.

Reflecting on her own journey, Batra-Sharma concluded by offering advice to aspiring oncologists. She emphasized the significance of mentorship and how it can help to shape one's career. She also urged candidates to seek mentors who inspire and support their growth. Dedicated individuals like Batra-Sharma continue to shape the landscape of cancer care, offering new hope and innovative solutions for patients.

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