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Nina Sanford, M.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
  • Chief of Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology Service
  • Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care
  • Leaders in Clinical Excellence Rising Star Award
  • IF/THEN Ambassador
Nina Niu Sanford
“No pressure. No diamonds.”

Contributions to STEMM

Dr. Sanford attended Harvard Medical School, later completing her internship and residency at top-ranked Boston area hospitals prior to joining UT Southwestern. Today, she describes her role as a “radiation oncologist, which means I use radiation therapy to care for patients with cancer.” Specializing in gastrointestinal cancers, she applies her radiation oncology expertise to treat malignancies throughout the rectum, esophagus, stomach, and pancreas.

“At the forefront of being a radiation oncologist is using cutting-edge technologies to provide compassionate, evidence-based cancer care that is also patient-centered,” Dr. Sanford said. “In my job, I get to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of folks to provide the optimal care to each patient including medical oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists and, within the radiation oncology department, nurses, radiation therapists, dosimetrists, dietitians, and social workers.”

Dr. Sanford also conducts clinical research and trials. “I conduct research with the goal of improving outcomes for the next generation of patients. This research includes clinical trials with translational correlates so that we can better understand how the tumor’s biology influences how it responds to treatment,” she said.

“I am particularly interested in improving the outcomes of young patients with cancers including colorectal and anal cancers, both of which are increasing in incidence in younger patients.”

Her dedication to patient care and research led to Dr. Sanford being named a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care. “It’s an honor to be able to form lifelong partnerships with patients during the trajectory of their cancer care,” she said.

The UT Southwestern Difference

In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Sanford “conducts clinical trial research and teaches trainees from high school students to medical residents.” She said she values the variety that her position at UT Southwestern allows.

“What I like most about my job is actually that I get to do so many different things – no one day is the same.”

Female Mentorship

Dr. Sanford mentors young girls and women interested in the STEMM field through the IF/THEN Ambassador program. Recently, she and more than 100 other IF/THEN Ambassadors were honored with 3-D printed statues in the #IFTHENSHECAN exhibit, displayed prominently at NorthPark mall in Dallas and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

“Mentoring the next generation is an important and very rewarding part of my job. We have radiation oncology residents working with us year-round. In addition, I mentor medical, college, and high school students interested in careers in medicine and oncology. This is very fun for me, although it also makes me feel pretty old!” 

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