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Karen Duffy of Ireland Becomes Ortho Biotech Medical Oncology Fellow at Fox Chase Cancer Center

PHILADELPHIA (January 22, 1999) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center has welcomed the second Ortho Biotech Fellow in Medical Oncology, Dr. Karen Ann Duffy, to the Center's Clinical Investigator Training Program.

Ortho Biotech Inc., a member of the Johnson and Johnson family of companies, will support Duffy's entire three-year training period with the company's commitment of $105,000. According to Fox Chase president Dr. Robert C. Young, the program was established in 1994 by Fox Chase to enhance the training of bright, young investigators and prepare them for productive careers in academic clinical oncology research. When the program began in 1994, Ortho Biotech was among the first companies to participate.

A native of Ireland, Duffy received her undergraduate and graduate training in Dublin and joined the center's medical oncology department in July. She decided that to excel in her career, training in the United States would be necessary.

"In Ireland, appointments as a fellow are controlled by the state, and there is no official fellowship training program yet, although one is in the process of being established," says Duffy. "In the States, however, the programs are well-structured, with time set aside during the day for learning and ample opportunity for research."

She will spend the first year of her fellowship treating patients with breast, lung, gastrointestinal, and head and neck cancers and the next two years conducting research.

Duffy's parents and two sisters remain in Dublin. Although she is homesick and "rings" her family every week, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn in the United States.

"In the States, there is more public advocacy for advancing medicine through research. There are many more opportunities to learn, and drugs are more readily available. I am learning a great deal about the cancer drugs Taxol and Taxotere.

"I am also excited about having the opportunity to meet several of the renowned names in medical oncology like Lou Weiner, [chairman of medical oncology at Fox Chase] and Larry Norton, [associate professor and medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York.] At home, I would only hear about these physicians."

Duffy's passion for working with people and her intense interest in science, biology and chemistry inspired her to become a physician. She then became intrigued by medical oncology during her residency program in Dublin at St. Vincent's Hospital.

"I became fired up about oncology because it involves learning in great depth about all of the organ systems, not just one--as with, say, cardiology," explains Duffy.

One of Duffy's specific interests is breast cancer. She saw a large number of women with breast cancer in Dublin and became enthusiastic about their response to chemotherapy.

"There are so many options available for the treatment of breast cancer, and often the response to treatment can be very dramatic and gratifying," says Duffy. "Other cancers can be more resistant and difficult to treat.

"Overall," she adds, "I enjoy the excitement of working in the radically changing world of medical oncology. Although the work can be physically and psychologically demanding, I enjoy helping patients and working with them." Duffy is unsure about her research plans, but her interests include genetics, breast and ovarian cancers, and pharmacology research.

"Fox Chase is a busy hospital with friendly and helpful people," says Duffy. "The clinical and research fellows provide a solid network of support and guidance."

Duffy lives close to the Center in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia and enjoys the beauty of the area. She recently saw squirrels for the first time. She has already traveled to San Francisco and plans to visit more of the country while she is here. Besides traveling, her hobbies include swimming, aerobics, reading fiction and listening to alternative rock music.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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