The Pursuit of Excellence
Many a wise traveler, remarking on the voyage of life has said, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” While this has been attributed to many different philosophers and laymen, we feel that the attribution is less important than the basic motto. Physicians, nurses, scientists, and educators today embark on a career that mandates one remain a student for the rest of their lives. Simply put, the care of patients with hematologic diseases and malignancies requires nothing less than a constant effort to renew one’s knowledge, enhance one’s skill, and improve one’s judgment.
The great Hippocrates once said, “You will exercise your art solely for the cure of your patients and will give no drug, perform no operation for a criminal purpose, even if solicited; far less suggest it.” In fact, this is the predecessor of the Latin physician’s interpretation of the basic ethic of the physician, which is “Primum, non nocere”, loosely translated, “First, do no harm.” Unfortunately, the therapies that oncologists and hematologists employ, with great judgment and skill, nonetheless, require us to use agents that can and do cause harm, even if the intention remains pure. In other words, our goal is to enhance the patient’s quality of life and if possible, prolong their life. In some cases, in the treatment of these diseases, our goal is actually to initiate or enhance cure. This represents a philosophical sea change in the basic tenets of clinical hematology and oncology. The Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University is fortunate to have a first rate faculty and staff dedicated to effecting major improvement in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancers and diseases of the blood.
Over the last few decades, there has been substantial progress in both the fields of hematology and medical oncology. As such, we stand on the shoulders of giants in building on the successes of combination chemotherapy, molecular diagnostics, targeted therapies, and enhancements in molecular cytogenetic approaches to both classical and malignant hematology, to list just a few major areas of progress. Our faculty, staff, and trainees are required to learn a new set of skills that many other attending hematologists and medical oncologists have not yet fully incorporated into their practice, including bioinformatics, practice-based learning, and systems-based approaches to the diagnosis and therapy of hematology and oncology patients, to name just a few. All of these abilities are employed to improve the care of our patients.
As a result, the Department provides state-of-the-art care in a multidisciplinary team-based approach to many aspects of cancer treatment, including allogeneic and autologous stem cell and bone marrow transplantation, targeted therapeutics, combination chemotherapy, chemoprevention and regenerative medicine. Our Department provides care for patients with many types of cancer and blood diseases, welcoming individuals of all nationalities, races and ethnicities, regardless of economic background.
We all strive together to improve as physicians and as scientists daily. Many of us ascribe to the motto of Alfred Lord Tennyson, who wrote “to follow knowledge like a sinking star beyond the utmost bound of human thought.” While that is vitally important for today’s clinical investigator, physician-educator, and physician-scientist, achieving an appropriate balance in life is equally important. Each of us grows as physicians and scientists during their career, as physicians, scientists, nurses, mid-level care providers and as human beings. This balanced approach helps make for superior physicians, nurses, scientists, and educators. It is our Department’s pledge to provide the finest state-of-the-art patient care, uncover the greatest scientific discoveries, and educate the next generation of physicians, scientists, educators and nurses to practice and enhance the art of medicine as humanely and objectively as possible.
Professor and Chair
Department Hematology and Medical Oncology