Juggling three different jobs at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel where she engages cancer in its various phases from basic research to patient care and Phase I clinical trials, Dr. Talia Golan, finds herself on the front-lines of modern medicine, working day and night to find the “magic bullet” that could possibly cure pancreatic cancer.
The South African-born doctor made Aliyah to Israel with her parents (prominent physicians in their own right) when she was 13 years old. She started her career at Sheba Medical Center in 2009 as a resident in the hospital’s Oncology Institute.
Today, Dr. Golan is a Medical Oncologist in Sheba’s Gastrointestinal Unit, heads the Sheba Pancreatic Cancer Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Translational Research Laboratory, and serves as the Medical Director of the Early Phase Clinical Trial Unit.
The Sheba Pancreatic Cancer Center is the largest pancreatic cancer care center in Israel, offering the most recent and innovative treatments for pancreatic cancer tailored for each patient’s clinical background and needs as well as a robust approach to coordination of care and patient/family navigation.
The Early Phase Clinical Trial Unit which Dr. Golan created in 2009 is dedicated to testing the newest cancer drugs and treatments in partnership with the most innovative pharmacologic developers. The unit has its own specialized staff and is fully dedicated to the complex requirements of Phase I clinical trials.
“This was the first dedicated Phase I oncology program in Israel. It was created to test new drugs that could benefit patients with advanced cancer including pancreatic cancer. These treatments are initially offered through the Unit to those whose 5-year survival rate is very low (less than 10%),” revealed Dr. Golan. “There are different aspects to this program, from early drug development and preclinical laboratory research to Phase I clinical trials for patients. We are working very hard to improve the survival rates and prolong the lives of all patients with pancreatic cancer.”
Through her research, Dr. Golan seeks to understand the biology of pancreatic cancer. She has discovered a relationship between pancreatic cancer and BRCA, noting that up to 15% of Ashkenazi Jewish patients with pancreatic cancer are also carriers of the BRCA 1 / 2 mutations. BRCA gene mutations in women had previously been found to cause breast and ovarian cancer, as well as well gastric and prostate cancer in men.
“We are constantly working on new and innovative medicines in collaboration with other hospitals and cancer research units like MD Anderson (at the University of Texas in Houston), PMH (Canada) and NYU in the USA,” added Dr. Golan. “I believe the changes in the way we treat pancreatic cancer, using new technologies, will result in the emergence of game-changing drugs in the near future.”
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