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Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Eric S. Winer, MD

  • Advances in Hematologic Malignancies Issue 6, Spring 2017
  • Advances in Hematologic Malignancies Issue 6, Spring 2017

    Eric S. Winer, MD

    Dr. Eric S. Winer is an Institute Physician in Dana-Farber’s Adult Leukemia Program.

    Why did you decide to work in oncology?
    In medical school, I found oncology fascinating because it was an inspiring blend of patient care with exponentially growing research. It was at a time when we were shifting paradigms to targeted therapy, and were thinking more in terms of cures rather than people succumbing to their disease. I also found that oncology patients were my favorite patients to care for.

    What is your area of clinical specialty and why? Tell us about the condition(s) you specialize in for clinical care.
    My area of clinical specialty is the myeloid malignancies and the acute leukemias. During my intern year, I seemed to be drawn to the leukemia patients. It was gratifying to see a patient come in acutely ill and guide them through a series of treatments to potentially lead to a cure.

    What are the main challenges in this area? How do you address these challenges with patients and families?
    The biggest challenge is taking care of patients that are extremely sick, and knowing that we have to support them through side effects or infections before they improve and recover. It is hard to watch someone critically ill, and it’s often difficult for patients, family members, and health care professionals to be patient and wait for the body to recover.

    Describe your research work. Why is this an area of interest for you?
    In medical school, I found oncology fascinating because it was an inspiring blend of patient care with exponentially growing research. It was at a time when we were shifting paradigms to targeted therapy, and were thinking more in terms of cures rather than people succumbing to their disease. I also found that oncology patients were my favorite patients to care for.

    Why did you decide to work in oncology?
    My research includes working with the rest of the Dana-Farber Leukemia Group to help create and run clinical trials for acute leukemias and myeloid malignancies. This area is very important to me because we have the potential to discover the next generation of treatments that can potentially cure some of these aggressive and difficult to treat diseases.
    This understanding permits us to create more targeted therapy, such as the gold standard Gleevec (Imatinib) which has excellent efficacy and much less toxicity than conventional chemotherapy.

    What are you most excited about in your area of expertise? What holds promise for patients?
    The most exciting aspect of leukemia and myeloid malignancies is the plethora of novel therapies that we are now evaluating. The landscape of treatment for leukemias and myeloid malignancies has markedly shifted over the past 15 years. We now have a much better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive these diseases. Through some of the new molecular profiling of diseases done at Dana-Farber, we are able to find the mutations that are responsible for the genesis of these diseases, and use specific inhibitors to treat these diseases. This will bring more therapeutic opportunities for treatment for patients of all ages.

    What do you like to do when you’re not caring for patients or doing research? What do you do for fun?
    My family, particularly my wife and 2 sons, are the most important aspect of my life. I love spending my time coaching and watching my sons play a variety of sports. We also enjoy backyard BBQ with the smoker, making ribs, pork shoulder and brisket.

    View Dr. Winer’s profile