Meet the EO: Katherine Crew, MD, MS
Dr. Katherine Crew is one of our newest executive officers, appointed in 2015. Dr. Crew oversees our survivorship and prevention and epidemiology committees. She will soon have another on her watch – the new palliative and end of life care committee. For someone so young, Dr. Crew has a lot of research and clinical experience – much of it at SWOG.
She came to us about 15 years ago, when she was an oncology fellow at New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University. Joining SWOG, she knew, would be a great way to network and work with key leaders in breast cancer prevention research, including Drs. Carol Fabian and Powel Brown. She knew SWOG would not only be a place to meet people, but to get things done. In 2006, she applied for, and was awarded, a slot in the SWOG Young Investigator Training Course (YITC), our intensive training program for early career investigators. Held for three days in Seattle, the course allows participants to develop a SWOG trial concept with support from key staffers and top investigators.
Crew’s YITC trial idea resulted in S0812, a trial supported by both the breast and prevention committees. S0812 investigated the effects of high dose Vitamin D supplements on breast health. She presented the results at ASCO this year, with the manuscript under review.
“I knew that SWOG would help me put my ideas to the test,” she says. “In SWOG and the other groups in the NCTN, you can create relationships, develop ideas, and then put those ideas into action. It’s a place for people who want to conduct trials and get their results out into practice.”
Two threads run through her career. One is prevention and public health. She serves as associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and also as associate professor in the Department of Medicine in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia. She directs the clinical breast cancer prevention program at Columbia, and says she likes prevention and public health because of the impact she can make; a little inexpensive prevention can go a long way and positively affect a lot of people.
The other theme to her work is development of young investigators. In fact, this is her favorite duty at SWOG. She is now on the faculty of the YITC and has attended the last three years’ worth of sessions. She also, for four years, has run the online grant writing workshop available through The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research. The workshop has served 20 participants, helping them develop R01, R21, R37, K and other federal awards, as well as applications for fellowships and other opportunities available through Hope and other nonprofits such as Conquer Cancer Foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The workshop is a big success. Many participants have succeeded in garnering external funding, including Drs. Melissa Accordino, Jill Hamilton-Reeves, and Virginia Sun.
Dr. Crew, who came to us through two of her own mentors, Drs. Dawn Hershman and Regina Santella, understands the value of guides in the journey of building a cancer research career. She also values working with young investigators. “The path of an academic cancer researcher isn’t easy, and it is gratifying to be able to help people early in their careers – and be around all that exuberance and fresh thinking. A little youthful enthusiasm helps you feel younger, too.”
Dr. Crew epitomizes the quality leadership in SWOG. I feel lucky to have her.