For Women’s History Month, this research Q&A focuses on Kelly Bailey, MD, PhD, and her experience as a female researcher. Dr. Kelly Bailey is a member of the Cancer Biology Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and pediatric oncologist at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
In your own words, can you describe your research interests?
As a physician-scientist and pediatric oncologist, my priority is always discovering new ways to better treat children with cancer. In my lab, we study the adolescent cancer Ewing sarcoma. We are interested in understanding the microenvironment of Ewing sarcoma and how the microenvironment changes after DNA damage from chemotherapy and/or radiation. We are especially interested in the number and function of immune cells in Ewing tumors following DNA damage. We hope that advancements we make in understanding Ewing biology will help us better treat patients with aggressive disease.
What changes do you hope to see in the future of the cancer research field?
I would love to continue to see team science grow. There is real power in working together, especially when studying rare tumors.
What initially drew you to a career in cancer research?
I started working in a lab doing research when I was in high school. That early research experience was life changing. I really enjoyed the bench-to-bedside nature of oncology research.
What impact do you hope to make in the research world?
In the lab, I hope to create a welcoming and inclusive team approach to answering exciting biology questions while helping to develop and launch the early careers of trainees working with me. I hope I can be a good role model for valuing work-life balance. Ultimately, my over-arching goal is always to continue to ‘move the needle’ and help improve patient outcomes.
How important has female mentorship been in your career?
I have had the pleasure of working with fantastic female scientists and clinician-scientists from the start of my research career. Mentorship never stops. I greatly value the guidance and wisdom of women in the field of pediatric oncology. As a high school student, having female scientific mentorship was inspiring and provided me with a lot of career tools that I continue to use today. I strive to ‘pay it forward’ and be a good mentor to others.
What advice do you have for female scientists at the beginning their career?
Reach out and connect! Finding life-long mentors is invaluable.
Learn more about the work happening in the Bailey Lab.