RM: Why do you think it’s important to be a surgeon-scientist?
Carpizo: As a an oncologist I enjoy taking care of complex cancer problems for patients but, in doing this, encounter problems every day that stem from a lack of understanding of the biology of cancer or a lack of diagnostic or therapeutic tools that limit my abilities to provide the most effective care I desire. Being a surgeon-scientist allows me the opportunity to use science as a tool to solve these problems. It allows me to be on the frontier of modern medicine with the potential to impact the lives of many, which is exciting.
RM: Tell us about your current research-related activity.
Carpizo: Certain gastrointestinal cancers such as pancreatic, bile duct, and liver cancers are characterized by a high recurrence rate following surgeries that we do to attempt to cure patients. These recurrences are due to tumor cells that are disseminated in the patients’ bodies at the time of surgery. My laboratory is at the forefront of research in understanding the behavior of these disseminated tumor cells, which sometimes hide in the body for months/years after surgery, a process called “cancer dormancy.” These recurrences are not going to be treated by new surgeries but, rather, new cancer drugs, and so my laboratory is engaged in research of several new therapeutic agents including the discovery and development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs that target p53, the most commonly mutated gene in cancer.
Learn more on the Carpizo Lab Website.