Chapter 08: Contributions to the Institution: Leadership and Diversity; A New Research Project

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Chapter 08: Contributions to the Institution: Leadership and Diversity; A New Research Project

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In this segment, Dr. Podoloff explains that his has made his most important contributions to MD Anderson through involvement in leadership. He talks about his service on committees, particularly the Credentialing Committee. He explains the important of this committee and then notes that one of his biggest contributions was to increase the number of women on the committee from zero to fifty percent. He comments on what women bring to leadership roles.

Next, Dr. Podoloff notes that committee work helped him understand his own leadership abilities. He notes that he trained four out of the five department chairs in the Division of Radiology at MD Anderson.

Next, Dr. Podoloff briefly explains a clinical trial using the radiotracer, IPQA, to image a genetic mutation.

[The recorder is paused for about 4 minutes.]

Identifier

PodoloffD_01_20150402_C08

Publication Date

4-2-2015

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - View on Career and Accomplishments; Diversity at MD Anderson; Women and Minorities at Work; Contributions

Transcript

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

And then I got involved in the institution very quickly. And again this was Tom’s mentoring and it was his opening doors for me. But I got to be on a lot of committees. And I learned a lot about the institution that way.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What were some of the early committees you served on?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

It’s in my CV. I can’t even remember. But it’s all there. I’m pretty sure I was on the RDDC, what is it called now? Radiopharmaceutical Drug Delivery Committee. I know I was on the—we used to call it the Isotope Committee. It’s now called the Radiation Safety Committee. I was on the Credentials Committee of the Medical Staff as Tom’s representative. And that led me into a medical staff pathway. I was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff here for seven years. I think it’s seven, it says right there.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

I’m sorry. This one? Oh yeah, Medical Staff Credentialing Committee, that’s 1997 to 2002. Vice chairman from 1995 to ’97.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

So eight years after I got here I was at the top of the medical staff hierarchy, the organizational hierarchy of the medical staff.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And what was the significance of working on that committee? I mean what is the reason for that committee? What’s its importance?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

You have to have a credentials committee if you have a medical staff because somebody has to pass on is this person qualified to do what they say they’re doing. So that’s what the Credentials Committee does. The Executive Committee of the Medical Staff is the direct line from the medical staff to the president of the institution. And there has to be—because of Joint Commission you have to have that kind of a structure. So it’s a very important committee. And my greatest contribution on that committee was when I started there were no women on it and when I left half the committee was female.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Why is that important?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Diversity.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Diversity, but I mean do you feel that—I mean this is a question I ask women as well. I mean do you think that women bring something different?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Oh, definitely.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Well, they look at—they solve problems differently than men. And they do it with a different approach. Men tend to be combative. Women tend to be cooperative. There are exceptions to that everywhere. But yeah, generally men. I believe if you woke up every man in the world at the right time you’d find a tiger coming at you. And I don’t sense that about women.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Interesting, huh, interesting.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

But my deliberate intervention was that I thought women were underrepresented on the faculty at leadership positions. And now everybody’s coming around to that way of thinking.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. When did you decide that that was an issue in leadership at MD Anderson or even in other medical institutions you observed?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Well, I just told you I went to medical school with two girls.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

But I mean at that time did you feel oh, this is wrong, we need to—

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

No. When I was in medical school? I thought it was absolutely right. That’s how medical schools were.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. OK, yeah. So when did your idea about that change?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Probably after living with my wife for five or ten years. My wonderful wife, who a roommate introduced us during my first year of residency. She says, “Mary Ellen, this is Dr. Podoloff. He was voted intern of the year.” And my wife looks me right in the eye and says, “So what?” She’s kept me in line for forty-nine years.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

(laughter) That’s a good story.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Yep.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What were some things that you learned about the institution? I mean those are pretty high-powered committees. I mean what did you learn? I mean not about the institution but about your own abilities? How did your own abilities as a leader evolve during that time?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

It struck me that wherever I was for whatever reason I ended up in a significant leadership position. And I thought about that some, and then I dismissed it, because I couldn’t do anything about it. And I don’t dwell a lot on things that I can’t change or fix. And this particular trait I don’t think you want to fix.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Right, sure. Where would you like to go next in terms of talking? I mean we’re focusing a lot on your administrative roles. But there’s also the evolution of your research. Which line would you like to pursue right now? Where do you feel is the best way to tell the story?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Well, I think my major contributions to MD Anderson are not through research but through clinical practice and the leadership track. The legacy that I’ll leave to MD Anderson when I eventually get out of here is that four of the five department chairs in diagnostic imaging are people that I mentored. The current division head, the head of physics, the head of nuclear medicine, the chairman, and the chairman of the Radiology Department were all people that I mentored.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow. Wow, that’s—

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Yeah. One of the groups, the Sperling group, the group that looks at behavior and a lot of the department—every time I see Steve Sperling in the hall he says, “You’re going to leave a hell of a legacy.” And I’m very proud of it actually, I am. So the research that I did, probably the best thing I ever did in research was that discovery about the heart that I never got any credit for. I did a lot of clinical trial research. I’m doing one now where I’m the principal investigator on a compound. It’s a PET imaging agent that looks at the EGFR, the epidermal growth factor receptor, mutation that predicts whether you’re going to respond when you have lung cancer to Iressa or Tarceva.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Now is this the solution? Is this that 18F-PEG?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Yeah, that’s it.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. Let me just read it for the recorder. It’s 18F-PEG6-IQA. That’s it. OK. And it has no easy acronym.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Yeah. We call it IPQA.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

IPQA. OK. Now tell me about that. How did you discover this solution and decide that you wanted to pursue it?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

I didn’t discover this.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

I mean discovered it existed, yeah.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Well, it comes from Israel. And it was one of the pet projects of the person who was the head of experimental diagnostic imaging, who I also recruited here.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And that person’s name?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Juri Gelovani. And Dr. Gelovani is no longer here because he was too smart for the place in my judgment. And he couldn’t get along with people. But brilliant, absolutely brilliant. He wanted to do a clinical trial with this but he didn’t have a license to do a clinical trial. He’s not a practicing physician. He didn’t pass the Texas—he was educated in Europe. So I came and I said, “I’ll do the clinical part for you. I’ll do the clinical research.” It’s a phase I study in which we want to demonstrate safety, radiation dosimetry, and the typical things that you do in a phase I study, with an eye that if it works and the radiation dose is low enough, and we don’t hurt anybody, and we haven’t so far, then we’d go on to how good does this thing behave, an efficacy study, a phase II study.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Now explain to me exactly what IPQA does.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

IPQA.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And I mean why it’s an advantage over other existing solutions.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Well, it’s actually imaging a specific genetic mutation. It’s not imaging a physiologic process. Chemically it’s a drug that’s very similar to Tarceva, which is a drug that’s used to treat lung cancer. So its biochemistry is similar to that. And its physiology is similar to that. So what we’re seeing is a gene mutant. You don’t see that every day in nuclear medicine or in radiology.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Boy, no kidding. Yeah. And this genetic mutation could lead to what kinds of cancers?

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

It does lead to non-small cell lung cancer, often in nonsmokers, often in females. Which is not the typical phenotype of the usual smoking male who gets lung cancer. And because of its analogy to Tarceva it is a drug that in clinical practice will say, “Do or don’t use this very expensive drug for a full course. Because if I don’t image, it means it’s not going to work.” At least that’s what we think.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Interesting.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

So this is a first-in-man study. And to my knowledge it’s the first radiopharmaceutical first-in-man study that’s ever been done at MD Anderson.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And I’m sorry. You’re saying in-man study meaning in-human study.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

Yeah. Right. We have a lot of monkey and dog data. We didn’t have any human data.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Right, I had never heard that phrase before.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

First-in-man? Yeah.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

In-man, first-in-man.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

First-in-man, it’s a phrase for describing the first time you use a drug in a human being.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

In a human being, yeah.

Donald A. Podoloff, MD:

I need to get some more coffee.

Tacey A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Absolutely. Let me pause the recorder for a moment. [The recorder is paused.]

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Chapter 08: Contributions to the Institution: Leadership and Diversity; A New Research Project

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