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Huntsman Translational Scholars: Matthew Poppe, MD

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Matthew Poppe, MD
Matthew Poppe, MD

Huntsman Cancer Institute 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.

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 Huntsman Cancer Institute Director and CEO Mary Beckerle.

Matthew Poppe, MD, is a physician-scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute and an associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Utah. He is also a member of the pediatric, sarcoma, and breast multidisciplinary teams at Huntsman Cancer Institute and serves as director of the residency program in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

As the primary radiation oncologist providing radiation for children with cancer, Poppe is actively engaged in the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. He conducts translational, clinical, and outcomes research at Huntsman Cancer Institute and works with COG in the design of new pediatric clinical trials. Poppe is currently the radiation co-chair of a phase III clinical trial focused on patients newly diagnosed with high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL).

In addition to his clinical research centered on pediatric cancers, Poppe is actively engaged in diverse institutions that are improving medical care for breast cancer patients. He currently serves as co-chair of the Breast Local Control Group and as vice-chair of the breast committee for the Alliance Cooperative Trials Group. As a member of the National Cancer Institute’s breast cancer steering committee, Poppe contributes passionately to the Breast Oncology Local Disease (BOLD) Task Force, which was established to provide early input into studies of localized breast cancer treated with surgery or radiation therapy. As the principal investigator of an international phase III clinical trial, Poppe is evaluating the safety and efficacy of short course radiation in mastectomy patients who elect to have breast reconstruction. He is also the principal investigator of a phase II clinical trial to evaluate a novel nine-day accelerated regimen of whole breast radiation.

“As a researcher and clinician, I have the opportunity to treat and interact with patients as well as try to find new solutions to improve the lives of cancer patients,” said Poppe. “Through clinical trials, we hope to find new ways to improve treatments and increase the quality of life for people with cancer.”

Poppe has published 34 peer-reviewed manuscripts and three book chapters. He has presented numerous posters at national and international meetings.

Poppe earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Santa Clara University and worked in engineering projects at the NASA Ames Research Center before attending medical school at Oregon Health Sciences University. He then completed a family practice residency at the University of California Davis, entered active duty in the United States Air Force, and practiced family and aerospace medicine until 2006.

To obtain additional specialized training, Poppe pursued and completed a radiation oncology residency at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. During this time, he contributed to residency education by serving as a member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and executive member of the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology.

Cancer touches all of us.