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UPMC Life Changing Is | Dr. Coffman
UPMC Life Changing Is | Dr. Coffman

Life Changing Is … Advancing Cancer Research

Dr. Lan Coffman, Medical Oncologist and Cancer Researcher

“The goal of everything we do in the lab is to be able to eventually impact my patients’ lives.”

There are two important sides to the work of Lan Coffman, MD, PhD.

As a physician scientist in medical oncology, Dr. Coffman treats cancer patients with a focus on gynecologic cancers. But the other side of her work takes place in her independent lab, studying ovarian cancers and running clinical trials based on her lab’s research.

While the jobs may be different, the purpose is the same: to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure gynecologic cancers.

“The goal of everything we do in the lab is to be able to eventually impact my patients’ lives,” Dr. Coffman says.

Dr. Coffman became interested in science as a child and started working in a lab during high school. But she also wanted to see patients. She found her fit in cancer care and research.

“Oncology is a field where you can translate findings from the bench to the bedside really quickly,” she says. “And, then, I think every one of us is touched by cancer. It’s so common.”

The gynecologic cancers that Dr. Coffman studies and treats are some of the deadlier cancers. Dr. Coffman knows many of her patients face a difficult road. She remembers patients who did not survive.

Those patients only motivate Dr. Coffman more in both her roles. As a scientist, she is doing everything she can to advance knowledge to better treat gynecologic cancers. As a physician, she provides the most complete, compassionate care possible to her patients.

“It would be very difficult for me as a clinician to practice in this space without knowing that I’m doing something to move our mission forward that will eventually impact our patients,” she says. “Whether that be the patient I’m seeing today in front of me, or her daughter 20 years down the road.”

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means working to help patients through care and through research.

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