Dr. Dora Cavallo-Medved, Supporter, “Play for a Cure”: In Conversation

If you go to the Windsor Cancer Research Group website and look up the listing for Dr. Dora Cavallo-Medved, you will see her area of expertise includes cell biology, tumour microenvironment and teaching. Looks like Dr. Dora has quite a full plate! In discussing her involvement with the Play for a Cure, it’s perhaps best that we start with the aforementioned area of expertise statement.

Interviewer (Int) Dr. Dora, for those of us not all that familiar with medical terminology, would you describe in layman’s language your specific research area given your position at the University of Windsor?
Dr. Dora (DD) “Basically, I am looking at the tumor microenvironment which exists outside a given cancer cell. Cancer does not act in isolation – it can, and does, call upon other more normal cells to help it progress and invade, and obviously, is very self-serving. That is where I am currently focusing.”

(Int) – You also having a teaching component to your workload. Would you say that your research drives your teaching, or your teaching drives your research?
(DD) I would say the two go hand in hand. I truly enjoy the teaching component, and we actually teach hands on research right in the classroom as well. So, there is a natural synergy there.

(Int) – Can you describe one or two recent advancements you have witnessed in the fight against cancer within your specific discipline and/or areas of research?
(DD) Well, from a classroom perspective we have initiated a cancer bio lab for our first-year students and a third-year CURE course on cancer research and education. That means they get practical, hands on research experience right from the get-go. And we don’t limit that kind of experience just to the university, because we also have our students learning about clinical trials at the local hospitals.

(Int) If you could look into the proverbial crystal ball and see future research areas for you and your team, what will that look like moving forward?
(DD) The process of interdisciplinary team work is, and will continue to be, vital in all the work we do, wherever that might take us. If you are independent of other health professionals, you can only bring what you know to any given situation. But the concept of interdisciplinary work means that we assemble a host of great researchers and practitioners, not just one person in one location. That means better diagnostic tools and new or improved treatment protocols. Inevitably, that translates into better health outcomes for patients.

(Int) The Play for a Cure initiative is an attempt to assist in raising funds for locally based cancer related research. How important in the big picture are these types of programs for researchers such as yourself?
(DD) It is HUGE for two reasons. First, this kind of funding will assist ongoing local research efforts and help plan for the future. Funding is key. And second, this program will help bring more awareness and education to the general public, and that is essential on multiple levels.

(Int) Anything you’d like to share with all the volunteers and participants involved in the Play for a Cure campaign?
(DD) Yes. Allow me to extend a great big thank you to all those involved in this program. We truly appreciate all the time and effort the volunteers put in, and I can tell you, getting that kind of support from the grass roots in our community is inspiring for us.

Dr. Dora Cavallo-Medved is a world class researcher/teacher based right here in our own community. People such as Dora, and all front-line researchers, are leading ongoing efforts to eradicate cancer from our local communities. Keep up the great work Dr. Dora and continued best wishes to you and your colleagues as you keep pushing the research barriers for cancer prevention and treatment.

Vern Stenlund