Becoming Department Head


Becoming Department Head



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The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

How closely do all of these accomplishments over the last nine years connect up with the vision that you had for the department when you became formal chair in 2005 and suddenly it’s like, “Okay, now you can move ahead. You’ve got the resources”?

Carmen Escalante, MD

Well, it was an expectation. I mean, Dr. Gagel told me, “You need to build a research program,” and I don’t think he thought I would be successful. In fact, he told me a few years ago, “I never thought you would be able to build this research program.” He told me, himself.

And I said, “Wow. Gee.” To myself I said, “Gee, thanks a lot.” (laughs) That gives me a lot of validation of the confidence he had in me.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Again I’m wondering is that a gender issue.

Carmen Escalante, MD

I definitely think it could be. You know, again, that sensitivity is there with them still around, and we may have to think of how we do this, but yes.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

If you’d like, we can kind of address those issues in a separate section, if you prefer to [unclear].

Carmen Escalante, MD

Yeah. I definitely think that that was attributed. I think he definitely looks at Ivy League-trained people differently, and I wasn’t, and I think, you know, he does look at women in a different light. And for whatever his reasons were, he told me himself that he didn’t think that I could do it and was surprised, and I think he was probably more than surprised when we had the top funding for a few years recently, compared to endocrinology and cardiology. Even symptom management, who is a research department, we surpassed them, and I think that was very surprising.

We’ve always been a strong clinically, but I think that we, in my opinion—of course, I’m biased—we have one of the strongest clinical groups in the division, and we work very hard to make our other groups that we work with and patients happy and be accessible and follow through.

Becoming Department Head