Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Oncologist Dr. Arsen Osipov
Feb 15, 2021 Katie Rosenblum
Meet medical oncologist Dr. Arsen Osipov! After spending his residency years at Cedars-Sinai, he returned to us last summer from Johns Hopkins to take on a new role in the Pancreas Cancer Research Group, part of the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center.
We sat down with Dr. Osipov to learn more about his job and what he hopes to achieve in his new position.
What inspired you to pursue a career in oncology?
Dr. Arsen Osipov: Before I went to medical school, I worked as a biomedical engineer. And where I worked, we dealt with medications for hematology patients.
One day, they brought in a patient and we got to meet someone taking the medication we worked on. Despite doing the engineering and research, that element of patient interaction was missing.
Oncology is a field that combines teaching, research and the clinical care of patients who need our help most. There's a truly holistic approach to treating cancer patients.
What brought you back to Cedars-Sinai after pursuing a fellowship elsewhere?
AO: I've always said that Cedars-Sinai is like home for me, both on a career and personal level. I knew that the people here were great and it was a great place to build a new program and do cutting-edge research, particularly in pancreatic cancer.
I was born in Armenia but grew up in L.A., so I know this community well. Even though I've moved around a lot for my training, L.A. is always home.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
AO: There's a limitation to the treatments we have available now, especially for pancreatic cancer, and there's so much more to do in terms of research. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we're left with a problem we can't always solve and it’s hard when you're faced with that reality.
"However, this very challenge is why I am a dedicated clinician and researcher in pancreatic cancer. I hope we can together in the medical community overcome these challenges."
What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
AO: Cedars-Sinai is an impeccable institution, with experts in every discipline. What I hope to achieve joining this team is to develop a comprehensive, multidisciplinary precision medicine program for pancreatic cancer.
That will be a two-part approach. The first part will be a clinic that we hope to have up and running soon, where a patient will see all of their providers on the same day, instead of days or even weeks apart. We will also be proactively assessing patients for clinical trial opportunities.
The second piece is collecting information, samples and tissues from these patients to build a bank for current and future research that we are conducting in the lab. We want to use that information to make treatment decisions for these patients, as well as help us create new drugs and novel clinical trials for all patients with pancreatic cancer.
What do you do to release stress outside of work?
AO: I have a lovely family and spending time with them is critical. I have two young daughters and they draw me into their world.
I am also still close with my group of childhood friends and they're not in the medical field. I enjoy hearing about what goes on in their careers and lives. That's a way for me to step away and come back refreshed.
Being a big fan of film and Christopher Nolan is particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic when we are all trying to be safe at home. Watching his films is a great way to blow off steam.
What are you looking forward to doing when the pandemic is over?
AO: That's actually work-related. One of the great things we do in cancer is conferences. They are great ways to present and learn about the newest research and outcomes and trials that are going on in cancer care. Not to mention it will be good to travel again.
What's your advice to someone thinking about a career in oncology?
AO: It’s an absolute privilege to take care of cancer patients. They trust you with the most serious of illnesses, and they hand over their care to you during their most vulnerable time.
So it's important to know that going in. Secondly, go for it! If you're passionate about it, this is a disease that needs more bright minds who want to contribute to solving the hardest questions we have in medicine.