Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine was among 10 international sarcoma programs collaborating in a study that led to FDA approval of ripretinib for patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), a type of soft tissue sarcoma. Gina D’Amato, M.D., a sarcoma medical oncologist and assistant director of clinical research at Sylvester, is one of the co-authors of that study published in Lancet Oncology this year.
“Dr. D’Amato serves as a great role model for trainees and junior faculty, as exemplified by her stellar patient care and high-level research,” said Jonathan Trent, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of Sylvester.
On December 10, Dr. D’Amato received the Innovative Sarcoma Leadership Award from The Life Raft Group. This non-profit organization provides patient support and research resources for GIST, which is diagnosed in 3,000 to 5,000 patients a year in the U.S. The award was presented during the first Women in Sarcoma Virtual Gala, which recognized medical professionals in this field.
“This award recognizes her ability to think outside the box and bring an idea to light that has not been pursued before. She brought women in sarcoma together to help inspire others and foster collaboration among her peers,” said Sara Rothschild, vice president of LRG.
Helping patients “live every day to the fullest”
“The main goal for all of us here today is to help these cancer patients live as long as possible and live every day to the fullest,” said Dr. D’Amato during the ceremony. She was one of six women honored for their various roles in furthering knowledge about this type of sarcoma.
When Dr. D’Amato was a medical student and resident at the Miller School, she saw sarcoma patients during her training. Later in her career it became her subspecialty with the help of many mentors, especially Dr. Trent.
“What attracted me to sarcomas are that they are rare cancers, and they affect both men and women, and all races, ethnicities and ages,” said Dr. D’Amato.
At the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr. D’Amato organized the inaugural lunch for women in sarcoma, a meeting of great minds working to treat this rare cancer of which there are more than 150 subtypes. That was the beginning of a network of women oncologists collaborating and sharing ideas with one another.
In addition, Dr. D’Amato has organized a “Sarcoma Interest Group” at Sylvester for medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty to discuss patient care and progress of each participant’s sarcoma research project.
“Dr. D’Amato is a true innovator in mentorship, education, and advocacy in sarcoma,” Dr. Trent said.