Dr. Suraj Samtani is a medical oncologist practicing in Chile. As oncology treatment has evolved, he’s worked on clinical trials and research studies related to novel immunotherapies, and chose to learn with HMX to advance his knowledge and work toward better outcomes for patients across Latin America.
What got you interested in oncology, and what are your career goals?
Once I finished internal medicine, my father got diagnosed with cancer. Once I saw the connection the physician develops with his/her patient throughout all this process, I realized I wanted to become an oncologist. To be able to guide patients during their diagnosis and treatment and try to improve their quality of life motivates me to continue to become a better professional. The process of mentoring is also fundamental to guide you through this path to be able to achieve our goals and stimulate personal and professional growth and I was fortunate to have someone during this process.
What made you want to take courses in immuno-oncology and cancer genomics?
The landscape of treatment in oncology has drastically changed in the past few years with novel therapies, such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Every year you have new biomarkers, novel treatments which can provide a better prognosis for our oncological patients, but these come with new adverse effects that we need to learn how to manage correctly. So being part of this revolution in cancer has been wonderful, and given this, I believe that the HMX courses on immuno-oncology and precision oncology provide the perfect connection between the molecular basis of cancer and its clinical relevance in our daily practice.
The courses provide you the basic concepts of cancer and novel treatments, but they also provide the relevance of these concepts applied in daily practice with clinical cases. Continuous medical education helps you to stay up to date and become successful in any field. Hence HMX courses helps you not only to understand the novel treatments that have been discovered in the past few years, but also help you to develop research in a better way. When you know the general idea, you know where you have to search deeper and what aspects you have to continue investigating to improve the outcomes. Throughout one’s career in medicine you learn the first principles of the medical field and oftentimes being up to date is a real challenge. In my opinion, HMX courses are the perfect choice to fully understand the key principles of molecular oncology and novel treatments in detail and their applicability to clinical practice.
What about the courses did you find most useful?
The courses are very well structured. For example, the evaluations after each and every class helps the student to examine that the concepts taught were fully understood. The interactive figures are remarkable. The duration of each class provides sufficient time to deliver the key concepts without loosing the attention of the students.
Did you use the discussion forums during the course to ask any questions or to look at other people’s questions?
Yes, this part of the course was helpful as well, as one gets to see questions and answers that are relevant and timely. It provides a practical application of the course. The discussion forum also provides insights on many questions that are currently being studied in clinical trials and don’t have an answer to date.
How do you think you’ll apply what you’ve learned?
HMX provides the perfect connection between the key molecular basis of cancer and its relevance in clinical practice. But there is still a lot more to improve for our patients. We need a lot of research to be able to answer many questions we have in clinical practice. For example, we know that patients in different regions respond differently to immunotherapy in terms of overall survival and tolerance and this could be due to genetic predisposition and/or acquired factors, so research in our specific population in Latin America is needed to be able to provide better treatment to our patients.
I’m very motivated to continue doing research specifically in Latin America, to understand why don’t all patients respond to immunotherapy. How to improve outcomes in these patients? And how can we optimize treatment of adverse effects of immunotherapy? In this last point, we have reported a higher incidence of immune-related adverse effects in our population that are not reported with such frequency on clinical trials. So there are certain genetic predispositions or maybe other ambient factors, which predispose our patients to have a higher incidence of certain adverse effects. These courses really motivate me to see that once you really understand the basic concepts, you can develop hypotheses, to respond with future studies.