Physician-Scientist Speaker Series with Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD
By Avery Bogart (G2)
On April 6, 2023, the MSTP had the pleasure of hosting Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD for the VUMC Discovery Lecture and Physician-Scientist Speaker Series (PSSS). Dr. Odunsi is the Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dean for Oncology in the Biological Sciences Division, and AbbVie Distinguished Service Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago. He is also an internationally recognized expert on immunotherapy for cancer. His research program specifically focuses on understanding mechanisms of immune recognition and tolerance in ovarian cancer and translating these findings to clinical trials. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Odunsi was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in 2018 for identifying key mechanisms of immune suppression in the ovarian tumor microenvironment and implementing a multi-institutional immunotherapy trial that harnessed the immune system to treat ovarian cancer. In addition to his devotion to research and patient care, Dr. Odunsi enthusiastically mentors the next generation of physicians and scientists, and is a champion of health equity, striving to address disparities that impact marginalized communities communities.
As part of his visit to Vanderbilt, Dr. Odunsi joined the MSTP for the PSSS dinner, where he shared his insights into the life and career of a practicing physician-scientist. Beginning with a quote from Rev. Peter Raible that reads “We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig.” Dr. Odunsi went on to highlight the ways in which strong mentors have been integral to his success. Further, he reminded us that mentors are not always our superiors, nor are they always formal relationships, and often our strongest mentors are our peers and friends. Dr. Odunsi also encouraged us to be intentional in our commitments beyond our laboratory and clinical duties. He concluded his talk by sharing his vision for the future of science and medicine, which he hopes will include cross-institutional collaborations that will bring people together to change the face of healthcare. We are grateful that Dr. Odunsi was able to share his knowledge with us and look forward to celebrating his future achievements.