Jul 09, 2018 10:00 AM

Adam Cohen, MD, MS

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) has established The Society of Huntsman Translational Scholars, an initiative that recognizes excellence in the discipline of translational science. Translational researchers extend basic discoveries made in the laboratory and apply them to solve clinical problems and benefit patients through new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Six physician-scientists were recently recognized by leaders at HCI and the University of Utah with a Huntsman Translational Scholar award.

Recognition as a Huntsman Translational Scholar provides financial support to promote cancer-focused studies that accelerate the development of new treatments. The six awardees will also work as a cohesive team to share best practices and mentor other scientists interested in translational cancer research. “The Huntsman Translational Scholars is an initiative designed to recognize and advance the careers of exceptional scientists who are making strides in translational research,” says HCI Director and CEO Mary Beckerle.

Over the next several weeks we will be publishing a series of articles featuring these exceptional physician-scientists.

Adam Cohen, MD, MS is a researcher and physician at Huntsman Cancer Institute, specializing in brain cancer and breast cancer. He is also an assistant professor in the departments of Internal Medicine (Division of Oncology) and Neurosurgery at the University of Utah.

Cohen came to HCI in 2009 to study brain and women’s cancers. “These cancers are very different regarding the patients afflicted and therapeutic approaches utilized, but there are some exciting research studies developing in both of those areas at HCI,” says Cohen. “I was delighted to be able to bring discoveries and novel approaches to the clinic.”

Cohen’s research focuses on clinical trials that provide his patients personalized treatments. “There have been a lot of developments in the last ten years, taking research from the lab to our patients,” he notes. “We are now able to evaluate mutations or alterations in someone’s tumor and select a drug that will specifically target it. There is also the option of utilizing immunotherapy approaches we did not have when I started training. Immunotherapy is a game changer in those cancers where it works.”

Cohen received his medical degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago. Before coming to HCI, he was chief resident in the Department of Internal Medicine at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. He completed his hematology/oncology fellowship at HCI and served as chief fellow.

Cohen is immersed in research but still works with patients. “I’ve learned so much from my patients, the things they love and live for and how they use all of these things to handle something like cancer,” he says. “They’ve taught me to value the important things in my life and let go of the rest.”

Evidently his patients like him, too—he has a nearly perfect score in the patient rating forum. Patients note he is a good listener and takes as much time as needed to make sure they understand their disease, their treatment options, and the research being done that could improve their lives.

“We are where we are today because of the gift that thousands and thousands have given in the past by participating in research,” Cohen says. “The research our patients are participating in now is going to change how we treat people in the future.”

Cohen says he likes working at HCI because of the collaborative spirit. “It’s a place where people get along and where the ethos is that it takes a team to tackle cancer—whether you’re talking about clinical treatment or research—and that every member of that team is important.”

Cohen says he appreciates being selected as an HCI Translational Scholar. “It’s an exciting opportunity to expand what we’re doing in translational research and use the excellent science developed in our labs to benefit our patients.”

cancer care cancer research clinical trials breast cancer brain cancer Cancer Center Research Program Experimental Therapeutics

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