Celebrated Physician: Shruti Tiwari, MD
Growing up in India, Shruti Tiwari, MD, wanted to be anything but a physician—a rather unusual attitude, given that her father was an internist, and her mother was an Ob/Gyn.
“They worked really long hours, and wouldn’t get home until very late,” Dr. Tiwari recalls. “But as I got older, I gained a better appreciation of what they did for their patients.”
“During my oncology rotation in medical school, I loved the relationships that I developed with patients,” Dr. Tiwari explains. She decided to make research part of training, “so that I could preserve an important aspect of my work, and also give something back to the field that needs it the most.”
Unique Perspective on Cancer Research
While Dr. Tiwari’s four-year research and medical residency at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland involved drug development for colon cancer, she shifted her focus to breast cancer for her fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. Her research included novel targeted treatments for HER2-positive breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer, health disparities and patient-reported outcomes. Dr. Tiwari also conducted research evaluating clinical outcomes in very small HER2- positive tumors, exploring the need for chemotherapy treatment in these patients.
The opportunity to continue her work in both breast cancer treatment and research brought Dr. Tiwari to MedStar Washington Hospital Center/Washington Cancer Institute as an attending medical oncologist. She also welcomed the opportunity to help underserved populations.
Paving the Way for New Test Treatments
“Working with cancer patients isn’t just about diagnosis and prescribing treatment,” she says. “You have to understand what’s going on in other areas of their life, which plays a big role in how the treatment program progresses. It’s gratifying to help them achieve positive outcomes, not just physically, but also psychologically.”
Along with helping enroll her patients in cutting-edge clinical trials, Dr. Tiwari is preparing to write her own trial to test the effectiveness of a combination of novel medications in shrinking breast tumors to make them amenable to surgery.
“This will allow patients to undergo breast preservation surgery, rather than a mastectomy,” she says.
Work-Life Balance as a Physician
Dr. Tiwari and her husband, an internal medicine specialist at the Hospital Center, have a 20-month old son who is the center of their home life. Being on the other side of the physician-as-parent equation has elements quite familiar to her own childhood experiences, Dr. Tiwari says, but also some important differences.
“The work/life balance is better in the U.S. than in India,” she explains. “I’m hopeful my son will have a better view of physicians as he grows up.”
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