Message From the Principal Investigator
I met the thrill of discovery in the clinical laboratory of a local community hospital, where I analyzed the results of my experiments studying recombinant human erythropoietin in mice as a freshman in high school. Since that time, I spent a significant number of years training in the medical field of orthopaedic surgery, and specifically in musculoskeletal oncologic surgery. These years of clinical training gave me extensive personal experience with sarcomas, a group of cancers connected by their mesenchymal origins.
While sarcomas are challenging to treat and therefore interesting, some disturbing basic facts became blatantly apparent to me, the more time I spent around them. The rarity of sarcomas means that the field of sarcoma biology is far behind our understanding of the biology of many other cancer types. We have only begun to understand the molecular underpinnings of most sarcoma types in the last decade. There have been few advances in the clinical care of sarcomas since the early 1990s.
Every good surgeon should be about the work of putting himself out of business. As an oncologic, ablative surgeon, I have more than just my oncologic failures adding impetus and fervor to such work. Even oncologic success in the form of long-term survival usually comes at the cost of significant losses in function and comfort for a patient with an extremity sarcoma. While I do not anticipate that surgery will no longer be necessary for most sarcomas by the end of my career, increases in the success rates of cure and decreases in the morbidity of the applicable systemic and surgical treatments can be achieved if we understand in better detail the biology of sarcomas.
That we do not already optimally understand the biology of sarcomas is readily apparent during the clinical care of patients with these diseases. The Jones Lab hopes to change that. Scientific success will ultimately be measured by my ability to generate new knowledge that tangibly benefits patients under my care. While that is clearly far-sighted in its scope as a goal, it is not unreachable.