Contributions to STEMM
Dr. Conzen is a physician-scientist – a role that she feels called to fulfill.
“I like everything about being a physician-scientist. I feel so lucky to wake up every day and be able to work with students, physicians, and nurses who want to improve cancer treatment.”
She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. One of her favorite parts of her job is the opportunity to “mentor many junior physicians and scientists to help them develop to their greatest potential.”
Dr. Conzen’s research “studies how epithelial cancer cells respond to physiological stress.” Specifically, she looks at the body’s main stress hormone receptors – glucocorticoid receptors – and has helped to define its role in prevalent cancers.
“Our lab initially discovered how the glucocorticoid receptor can signal cancer cells to stay alive and resist anti-cancer treatment. We have helped to bring stress hormone receptor modulators to clinical studies for cancer treatment.”
Her team would go on to turn this discovery into action.
Advice to the Next Generation
Dr. Conzen did not initially see a career in science for herself but “doggedly followed her interests and had supportive and enthusiastic teachers as a young person – which was so critical,” she said. “So, if you find science and discovery more exciting and fun than anything else, go for it!” She encourages young women to be bold and persistent.
“Setbacks exist in every aspect of life, not just science. One can only learn from these and keep moving.”