Researcher Spotlight: Jason Westin, MD

MD Anderson Cancer Center

 

Dr. Westin’s LRF Clinical Research Mentoring Program (LCRMP) project aims to improve the diagnostic and prognostic tools for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients. DLBCL patents who do not respond or relapse after the first line of therapy often have poor survival rates, but it is currently not possible to predict which patients will respond to additional treatment. Dr. Westin seeks to use a sensitive blood test – developed in collaboration with fellow LRF Scholar David Kurtz — together with an imaging study to create a DLBCL response Prediction model. “If successful, this could result in future trials to evaluate if changing a patient earlier to an alternate therapy could improve outcomes,” Dr. Westin notes, “In addition, this information would give patients and physicians more confidence in their therapy.”

Dr. Westin received his MD from the University of Florida before completing his residency at the University of North Carolina and his fellowship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he was Chief Fellow. Currently and Assistant Professor at MD Anderson, Dr. Westin also recently completed his MS in Patient Based Biological Research at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “Lymphoma research interests me due to the great successes that have already been achieved, and the even greater need for further progress to be made,” he says. “The future for lymphoma patients is indeed bright, but will only improve if high quality, high impact research is conducted.”

Before becoming an LRF Scholar, Dr. Westin participated in LRF’s patient education program as a speaker in the Ask the Doctor programs. He hopes that his involvement in the LCRMP will help in advance towards his career goal of leading innovative, practice-changing trials. Speaking to his commitment to these trials, we was recently awarded an ASCO Career Development Award for his project “Smart Start: A Phase Ib/II Study of Rituximab, Lenalidomide, Ibrutinib and EPOCH in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma”. “I hope that LRF will have a great contribution to my research progress and career development via funding and developing relationships with excellent collaborators for future research.” Dr. Westin’s belief in the importance of and need for clinical research is reflected in the advice he would give to a newly diagnosed lymphoma patient: “Ask: ‘Are there any clinical trial options for me?'” he says. “If the answer is no, ask: ‘why not?'”