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Talks with Docs: Douglas Sborov, Multiple Myeloma Director at HCI

Douglas Sborov, MD Talks with Docs Thumbnail
Douglas Sborov, MD, MS

Video transcript

Things that we're really passionate about is really encouraging people and helping people figure out how to live and spend the years that they have doing everything that they should be doing.

My name is Douglas Sborov. I'm assistant professor here at the University of Utah. I'm the director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute Multiple Myeloma program and also the physician leader for the Huntsman Cancer Institute Clinical Trials Office.

What does your research look like today?

What's unique about my opportunity and my role here at Huntsman Cancer Institute is that we have access to all of the researchers at the University of Utah, as well as at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. So what I've done and what I'm committed to doing is developing collaborations. All these collaborations are aimed at either better understanding multiple myeloma’s disease process or developing new drugs in order to treat our patients.

When did you know you wanted to become a doctor?

I'm a third generation physician—my grandfather, his brother, my father, his brother were all physicians. And as hard as I tried in my early 20’s to stay away from medicine I was, at the end of the day, this is what I was drawn to—this is my calling. And just like the two generations before me, I'm going forward and carrying the torch of medicine. My father was an oncologist. He practiced in the community in Minneapolis and St. Paul. And I decided to take that one step further and focus—sub-specialize—in blood cancer and stay in the academic environment because I really feel passionately about my role in research.

What makes your work meaningful?

So the single biggest thing that drew me to multiple myeloma was the opportunity to develop relationships with patients. This is obviously a very significant and serious diagnosis. And it really, in order to really appropriately treat patients, you really need to develop a deep sense of trust and understanding and that relationship is very important. Not only to the patient, but to me and to our clinical staff. This disease really allows us to help people learn to live, right? Some people think of an incurable blood cancer and they're thinking about you know, "How am I going to die?" And one of the things that we're really passionate about is really encouraging people and helping people figure out how to live and spend the years that they have doing everything that they should be doing.

What do you nerd out on?

My wife is from this area and she and I both have a very deep love for the mountains so we spend a lot of time hiking. We've got two pit bulls. One a little bit older, Sable. One a little bit younger, Ava. So we spend a lot of time with them. But when I'm going and nerding out on my own—generally what I do is I do a lot of skiing, do a lot of biking, do a lot of fly fishing. So as much time that I can spend in the mountains I do.

Is there a movie that has special meaning to you?

There's one movie that always like I'll come back to every couple of years is Patch Adams. Robin Williams in that movie plays this passionate, friendly, gregarious guy that was able to connect with people in a very unique way. And he was able to essentially change people's lives—not just his patients, but also all the people he was around. And so I like to try to think of myself in that way, as being somebody who's relatable. Being somebody that they can have a laugh, as well as a cry with patients and with our staff, and at the end of the day just be approachable.

What would you want a new patient to know?

We really pride ourselves on creating an atmosphere of sort of like a mom-and-pop shop, but we also want to be state-of-the-art. So we want people to come in—we want patients to come and family members to come in and feel very comfortable. But we also want them to know that they have access to drugs and medications and care that they wouldn't necessarily get at other places. Whether they be nutritionist or acupuncture or massage or you know you name it—strengthening exercises and physical therapy and those types of things. We really believe that there's a deep commitment to patient care here, and that's one of the biggest things that keeps me here. And really inspires me to further develop our program.

Cancer touches all of us.