Contributions to STEMM
As a breast cancer doctor, Dr. Reddy says she “focuses on trying to improve outcomes of breast cancer patients by boosting their immune systems to recognize and kill cancer cells.” In the Reddy laboratory, “I study novel therapies and treatment combinations to show potential benefit, and offer promising treatments to cancer patients through clinical trials. I design the treatments and study how these treatments are working and how to improve them by using patient cancer tissue that we collect. In doing so, I conduct bedside-to-bench-to-bedside research that can maximize my chance of identifying a clinically significant new treatment option for our patients.”
“Ultimately, the cancer and hospice patients I volunteered with during my high school and college years inspired me to dedicate my life to helping them, and led me to a career in oncology.”
Dr. Reddy said, “Even now, my patients motivate me to not only provide the best clinical care for them, but to seek to discover new treatments through research for those for whom our current treatments are not good enough.” She also credits “a couple mentors during my oncology fellowship training who directly interfaced with patients in conducting the bedside-to-bench-to-bedside research that I find most rewarding.”
Advice to the Next Generation
“For those interested in pursuing a STEMM career, find your inspiration and follow your passions.”
Dr. Reddy advised the next generation of physicians entering health care: “While the path is not always straightforward, and there will likely be obstacles, remembering why you are doing what you are doing will keep you on your career path to personal fulfillment and success.”
“During my fellowship, and more recently as I was transitioning to an independent faculty position, I learned the importance of advocating for myself,” said Dr. Reddy.
“Whether I am asking for time, monetary resources, or other support to do the type of science I want to do, I learned that one needs to identify what they need to succeed and advocate for it.”
“Especially as someone trying to combine two different research career paths – clinical investigation and laboratory-based science – I have needed to clearly communicate my vision, steadily demonstrate my ability to accomplish this, and ask for the support I need to achieve this.”
Dr. Reddy cherishes the unique atmosphere UT Southwestern provides. “I am blessed to be at an institution and work with leadership that is highly supportive of its faculty. I always advise junior trainees on the importance of finding an environment that is supportive and will enable them to achieve their goals,” she said. “As a woman and as a mother, it has been especially challenging balancing home and family life with academic pursuits. In the end, I have learned that all I can do is try my best, and that work-life balance is not a destination, but is continually a work in progress.”
She credits her support system for helping make her medical dreams a reality. “It really takes a village to maintain this balance, so in addition to getting support at work, I have been fortunate to have a supportive husband, hire child care, etc., to be able to keep things going as cohesively as possible,” Dr. Reddy said.