Nancy E. Davidson, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
My hope and goal in life is that no one has to suffer from a catastrophic illness.”
Why did you become a physician-researcher?
Science runs through my veins. I’m the daughter of two geologists. As a young girl, I spent several summers camping with my father while he did his fieldwork. Years later during medical school, I got a summer job at the National Cancer Institute, and what I saw there set fire to my imagination. Researchers had grown new cell models of breast cancer in a petri dish with the goal of developing potential new treatments that they could then bring to patients. For the first time, I witnessed a bridge between what happens in the lab and the clinic, and I wanted to walk that bridge myself. I set out to be a physician-researcher so my work could have a direct, positive impact on people’s lives. That passion has never waned.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
My life’s work has centered on advancing research, treatment and outcomes for patients with cancer. Early in my career, I served as the Breast Cancer Research Professor of Oncology and founding director of the Breast Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins University. In the lab, my research has focused on the role of epigenetics in breast cancer — how the expression of certain genes affects a person’s risk for developing the disease. I have been a lead investigator and co-investigator on several practice-changing breast cancer trials, including establishing a specific regimen of chemotherapy and hormone therapy for premenopausal women with the disease. Outside of patient care and research, I’ve also been active in leadership. Since 2016, I have served as SCCA’s president and executive director. In this role, I coordinate cancer care, clinical research and education across SCCA and its consortium partners: the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, I am also past president of both the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.
What do you want patients to know about working with you?
My office is a safe space where you can share your fears and concerns and ask as many questions as you need to gain peace of mind. I will explain your condition and the treatment options in a way that you can understand, so you can use the information to help you choose the path that’s right for you. Throughout my career, I’ve held a number of leadership roles and made several discoveries in the lab, yet one of the things I’m most proud of is the quality care I’ve given to patients with breast cancer.