Spotlight

 

Victoria L.M. Herrera, MD

UPCM 1978

 

Professor of Medicine, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute Section of Cardiovascular Medicine

Department of Medicine Associate Director for Medicine, BU Nanotechnology Innovation Center, Boston University School of Medicine

Dr. Herrera is a Magna cum Laude graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1978. She did PGY-1, 2 Residency in pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and did her Senior Residency and a Fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at the Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School. This was followed by a Fellowship in Molecular Genetics at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Her medical career is replete with numerous awards at Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Association, and UP college of Medicine.  She has been the recipient of numerous grants and has been honored with multiple appointments and memberships in distinguished committees and organizations. Brilliant and prolific, she has 85 (eighty-five) peer-reviewed research papers to her name.

When this super physician of a woman spoke of the father she leaned on for mentoring, she was referring to Dr. Florentino Herrera who was Dean of the UP College of Medicine.

 

Given all your professional accomplishments, what advice would you give your 30ish-year old self starting out in the US?

Research is the “road less taken” – and although more arduous, research is a privilege and an honor.   I would advise to visit back home more frequently. I realize now that I missed a lot not having been around more back then.

How did you seek mentorship from fellow UPMASAns? 

I confess, I did not know any fellow UPMASAn when I first came over. I did seek advice from my Dad – in that sense I am very lucky.

Can you tell us one lesson from a “fresh-off-the-boat” story? 

“Fresh-off-the-boat”, I had to learn a lot of “living lessons” fast. I did not know how to use a washing machine or dryer. Not much of a cook, I actually really liked Mc Donald’s Big Mac and the French fries. I preferred Del Monte’s canned peaches to the fresh peaches. I did not know I had to put oil in my car. My dad was visiting me in Boston, and I was driving when a red light turned on. I pulled into a gas station – and got informed that there was barely any oil left in the car.

“Fresh-off-the-boat”, I was a “fish to water” in research. My parents supported me on this decision, without question. Having originally not intended to stay, research opportunities actually let me stay, and was the purpose for my decision to stay.

“Fresh-off-the-boat”, I learned that I had a very solid medical education in UPCM. “Fresh-off-the-boat” I knew as much as my peers and had the advantage of the depth and breadth of “the PGH-experience”.

How did you overcome any implicit bias or explicit discrimination as an international medical graduate in the US?

Fortunately, being a Visiting International Fellow at Harvard, I truly felt welcome. Jan Koch-Weser, then Editor of NEJM, was assigned to be my adviser. I regret not spending more time listening to his stories – after I got totally immersed in at Children’s Hospital Boston (CHB). At CHB, it was quite international too. There were international visiting doctors and researchers all around – it was the world put together in one spot and being international was pretty cool. I am grateful to my mentors who were international – Dr. Alexander Nadas from Hungary, Dr. Marlene Rabinovitch and Dr. Richard Van Praagh from Canada, Dr. Stella Van Praagh from Greece – they opened up “a whole new world”.

What can UPMASA members do to encourage each other’s professional development? 

Keep learning as much as you can. Doing research is as important as clinical work and teaching.

I share my father’s voice in my head.

“Education and knowledge are yours and no one can take it from you.”

“Discovering new medical knowledge can help many more patients than the ones you can directly serve.” “There is value in being a good physician, a good teacher, or a good researcher.”

As I have learned, research makes a better clinician just as being a good clinician makes for a better researcher – and together – the better teacher.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Drilon, MD

UPCM 2004

 

Dr. Alexander Drilon is the Chief of the Early Drug Development Service and an Associate Attending Physician of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. His research focuses on the development of targeted therapy for genomic subsets of lung cancer and other solid tumors, including cancers that harbor fusions involving ALK, ROS1, RET, and NTRK1/2/3, and MET exon 14 skipping alterations. He is a recipient of American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO)/Conquer Cancer Foundation Career Development and Young Investigator Awards, and grants from the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. Dr. Drilon is also a member of the Editorial Board of ASCO University.

 

What are your professional accomplishments?

I am Chief of the Early Drug Development Service and Associate Attending Physician of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. My research focuses on developing new targeted therapies for different cancers, with a focus on lung cancer. This research has been funded by federal (National Institute of Health RO1 grant) and philanthropic grants, including a Career Development Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Among the drugs that my team has helped approved include larotrectinib for NTRK fusion-positive cancers, selpercatinib for RET fusion-positive cancers, and entrectinib for ROS1 fusion-positive lung and NTRK fusion-positive cancers.

Did you seek mentorship from UPMASAns?

I have not interacted much thus far with fellow UPMASAns as I am not a member of the organization. However, as a graduate of the University of the Philippines, I have made it a point to focus on mentoring during my career. In the past few years, I have served as mentor to at least 30 junior faculty, fellows, residents, and medical students. Among these are residents or medical students of the UP College of Medicine who have come to rotate through our institution.

Can you tell us one lesson from a “fresh-off-the-boat” story? 

Coming to the United States opens up many doors to self-growth. As I’m sure is the case with many UP graduates who have come to this country, I arrived with only two suitcases and had to learn how to build a new life here. This involved adapting to different cultures and viewpoints, particularly in New York where both my patients and co-workers are extremely diverse. Recognizing this as a critical skill, I tried to push my boundaries beyond my comfort zone, one concrete example of which was to learn as much Spanish as I could. This has become a tremendous resource not just at work but for many interpersonal interactions.

How did you overcome any implicit bias or explicit discrimination as an international medical graduate in the US?

My residency program was thankfully very diverse, with residents from multiple countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. As such, there did not appear to be a strong bias against international graduates. The challenge of course was making a mark in the midst of this diversity and learning to speak up and assert myself. In my current position, I strive to create an atmosphere that remains diverse in terms of gender, race, and another important factors.

What can UPMASA members do to encourage each other’s professional development? 

Passing on one’s experiences to younger generations is key. Among these are the softer skills that aren’t necessarily taught during residency or fellowship training that allow one to excel on multiple levels. While these seem basic, factors such as time management, financial planning, and fostering ethics and professionalism in the workplace can take one far.

 

 

 

 

 

2022 UPMASA AWARDEES

 

 

We celebrate and congratulate our alumni recipients of the following awards:

 

UPMASA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Silverio Cabellon, Jr., MD Class 1972A

Silverio “Billy” Cabellon, Jr. is a 2022 Golden Jubilarian who exemplifies lifelong service to the Philippines, the USA and our medical community.  He practiced vascular surgery in military and private practice and continues to hold an adjunct associate professor of surgery appointment with the Uniformed Health Services of the Health Sciences in Maryland following his retirement from an illustrious career of service as Chief of General Surgery and the Surgical Residency Program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  He is a retired colonel at the Medical Corps of the US Army. At UP, he was a Varsity baseball player, Editor of the Pre-Med newsletter, Assistant Editor of the UP Medics Newsletter, University Councilor, Class 1972A President, and Superior Exemplar of the Phi Kappa Mu fraternity.  He has a long history of service to UPMASA in multiple roles at a chapter (Baltimore-Washington DC) and national levels (Constitution and By-laws, Project Coordination, Research, several ad hoc committees). His advocacy and leadership have resulted in tangible and key improvements in the infrastructure of the College of Medicine and the expansion of research opportunities locally and with the US.  This Lifetime Achievement Award joins an extensive list of awards and commendations from the military, private practice and the UP Alumni Association.  We are grateful for his contributions, his example, and the honor he has brought to our alma mater.

 

UPMASA Award of Excellence and Merit in COMMUNITY SERVICE

Mayu Bonoan-Gonzales, MD – Class 1972A

Alejandro G. Paves, MD – Class 1972A

Edgardo Barcelona, MD – Class 1972B

Miguel H. Lapuz, MD, MBA – Class 1982

 

UPMASA Award of Excellence and Merit in MEDICAL RESEARCH

Victoria Lourdes M. Herrera, MD – Class 1978

Ronilda Covar Lacson, MD, PhD – Class 1992

Regie Lyn Santos-Cortez, MD, PhD – Class 1997

 

UPMASA Award of Excellence and Merit in MEDICAL EDUCATION

Francisco P. Quismorio, Jr., MD – Class 1964

Edward Vincent S. Faustino, MD – Class 1997

 

MERITORIOUS SERVICE to UPMASA

Edwin V. Palileo, MD – Class 1972A

Jose M. David, MD – Class 1983

Miguel L. De Leon, MD – Class 1975