Dr. James Hsieh, PhD currently works at the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis and is a member of the KCA’s Medical Steering Committee, which provides strategic guidance to the KCA on medical and patient education programs.
We spoke with Dr. Hsieh about his work with the KCA and with patients.
How long have you been working with the KCA and what motivated you to get involved?
I was introduced to the Kidney Cancer Association 10 years ago. After training at Dana Farber Cancer Institute from 2000-2004, I returned to Washington University to assume my first faculty position and began seeing kidney cancer patients. During this time, I was starting to understand how horrible this disease was and how toxic the treatment was to most patients. It was not until 2005 when the first targeted therapy for kidney cancer was approved that I began to see hope. We were finally able to help patients.
Then, in 2010, I moved to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to establish the institution’s first translational kidney cancer research program from ground zero. It was there that I was introduced to the Kidney Cancer Association.
What inspired you to go into the medical field?
I have always wanted to help people. My first experience with cancer was during medical school in Taiwan. This was the late 1980s when there was very little hope for cancer patients and no real understanding of the disease. When it came time to decide what was next, I knew there were two fields that needed help: oncology and neurodegenerative disease. I felt oncology was in most urgent need.
What is meaningful about being a physician? How do your patients inspire you?
I am grateful to be a medical oncologist. I really want to help people and my patients trust that I want to give them 100%. They understand that I am wholehearted in my intentions and they appreciate what I am able to give them. All my patients fight not just for themselves, but for their families. Their courage and grace in the face of death is inspiring. It’s why I love my job.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
My favorite place to visit is the Caribbean. The ocean and beach bring me peace. I love to visit for a couple of days, read a few books, and hear the waves. I always leave feeling relaxed and reinvigorated.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I am not working, I like to stay at home with my family and read books. I really enjoy philosophical books that help me become a better person. I don’t watch TV, but my favorite podcast is The Washington Post’s daily podcast Post Reports.