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WVU researcher aims to improve cancer outcomes for West Virginians

Work from Dr. A. Courtney DeVries, the John T. and June R. Chambers Chair of Oncology Research at the WVU Cancer Institute, and her team is focusing on the side effects a cancer patient experiences during treatment, depending on their social environment.

“What we found is that individuals who were socially isolated tend to experience more extreme side effects of cancer treatment,” said DeVries. “We’re trying to determine why that occurs and if there is a way we can minimize that outcome.”

DeVries believes her research can eventually enhance cancer treatment on a global scale.

“The long-term goal is to move what we’ve learned in the lab into the clinics,” she continued. “Then, we can improve cancer outcomes for people in West Virginia, the United States, and around the world.”

The John T. and June R. Chambers Chair of Oncology Research was established in 2011 after Cisco Systems CEO and WVU alumnus John T. Chambers donated $750,000 to create an endowed chair in cancer research.

The chair is named after Chambers’ parents, who both graduated from WVU and had successful careers in the medial profession.

Private funding expands the overall research doctors like DeVries can pursue in the early stages, as opposed to government and other forms of public funding.

“I am very grateful for the funds provided along with this chair,” she said. “It provides us the flexibility and the opportunity to pursue questions that are innovative and high payoff.”

WVU is currently ranked as an R1 institution – the most-elite category for researched-focused schools. Only 130 of the country’s 4,500 colleges attain R1 status – something even more enticing for DeVries when offered the chair at WVU.

“I am very proud of the fact that WVU has recently become an R1 Institution,” she said. “It was this growing interest in research that made WVU so appealing to me a year ago when I was offered this position.”

DeVries also serves as a professor in the Section of Hematology/Oncology in the WVU School of Medicine and is the assistant vice president for faculty mentoring as part of the Office of Research and Graduate Education team.

Watch the video above for more on DeVries and c onsider making your own impact on WVU’s cancer research.

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