These researchers dedicate their careers to finding new treatments and cures for people with cancer.
When Good Isn’t Good Enough
During her internal medicine residency, Dr. Sandra D’Angelo came to appreciate the crucial role that a medical oncologist plays in the lives of patients with cancer and their families. Obviously, patients and their families need intelligence and good decision making from their oncologists. But, equally important, Dr. D'Angelo believes, is effective communication, thoughtfulness, empathy, strength, and courage - qualities that allow her patients to trust that she is there to ensure they receive the best care possible, every step of the way.
Early in her medical training, Dr. D'Angelo recognized that standard treatments for cancer patients just weren’t good enough. Motivated by a desire to guide patients through the complex and difficult journey of a cancer diagnosis, while providing them with innovative new treatment options, Dr. D'Angelo is committed to discovering new treatment options that will improve the lives of patients.
Her work is focused on rare cancers, such as sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma. Her research focus is immunotherapies - drugs that can potentially help one’s own body fight the cancer.
After using a Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award (YIA) in 2011 to launch her research, Dr. D'Angelo could take her studies directly to patients when she received a CDA in 2015. The funding allowed Dr. D'Angelo to explore one of the first combination immunotherapy clinical trials in sarcoma. Her CDA project led to a breakthrough: combining several drugs led to higher patient response rates.
Dr. D'Angelo's CDA project also facilitated a significant clinical trial through the Alliance Clinical Trials in Oncology Cooperative group, which fosters collaboration through numerous centers and provides access to this novel approach for patients who aren't treated at major medical centers. Since completing the CDA project, Dr. D'Angelo has designed other promising clinical trials with various novel immunotherapy combinations. Much of her work is now centered on trying to better understand which patients respond to treatment and which patients do not, which will help inform future clinical trials.
Receiving Conquer Cancer grants made Dr. D'Angelo's research breakthroughs possible. Each award provided the protected time she needed to collaborate with other researchers and pursue the ideas that ultimately led to new discoveries.
Dr. D'Angelo finds managing a successful career and family challenging but rewarding. “There will be times when one aspect of life needs more attention and redirecting your attention in that direction becomes crucial…it’s a true partnership with my husband. Our boys are the most important part of our lives, and our priorities are centered around them.” In her spare time, Dr. D'Angelo enjoys cooking, running, and traveling.
Women Who Conquer Cancer exists to support outstanding women researchers like Dr. D'Angelo, who are counting on us for funding. Dr. D'Angelo supports the WWCC because, "The Women Who Conquer Cancer program is a phenomenal opportunity to focus funding efforts towards promising and talented women clinical investigators. It lays the foundation for future female researchers in the field of oncology."