Inaugural Juckett Scholars Launch Cancer Care Delivery Studies

November 19, 2022 by Kate Strotmeyer

The University of Vermont Cancer Center recently announced the names of the inaugural Juckett Scholars. The award program is part of the new Clinician Investigator Development Initiative and is supported by the Juckett Foundation.

Drs. Alissa Thomas (left) and Kara Landry.

The new Clinician Investigator Development Initiative (CIDI) is designed to encourage productivity and career development for clinician investigators at the UVM Cancer Center.
“Clinical research is valuable and possible when investigators are given protected time, mentorship, and resources to dive into scholarly activity,” said Randall Holcombe, M.D., M.B.A., Director of the UVM Cancer Center. 
As part of this initiative, the Cancer Center recently selected its inaugural Juckett Scholar recipients, Kara Landry, M.D., and Alissa Thomas, M.D., who will each receive approximately $250,000 over two years with an eye towards creating new standards for cancer care delivery. The awards are supported by the Juckett Foundation, which has provided decades of support to the UVM Cancer Center, helping to improve cancer outcomes for patients across Vermont and Northern New York.
Kara Landry, M.D.
Mentor: Randall Holcombe, M.D., M.B.A., Professor of Medicine
With a clinical and research interest in genetic factors that play a key role in developing cancer, Landry, a Class of 2015 Larner medical alum and fourth-year UVM hematology/oncology fellow, is investigating how to best care for patients with hereditary cancer syndromes.
“Right now, the burden of coordinating care often falls on our patients, especially those living in rural areas where access to care may be more limited,” said Landry. “Since early detection and screenings are important for this group, we can improve how we help them navigate sub-specialists and shared decision making.”
This winter, Landry will begin enrolling high-risk patients in a program that will become the medical home base for the cohort. This shift in approach aims to show improvements in adherence to screening, prevention, and other early detection strategies, a reduction in patient distress, and improved patient experiences.
Alissa Thomas, M.D. 
Mentor: H. James Wallace, M.D., Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology
Brain metastases require a multidisciplinary team summoning the expertise of surgeons, radiation oncologists, palliative care doctors, and other sub specialists to the care of a single patient. 
Shifting from a sequential model where patients see a string of individual clinicians towards a concurrent and multidisciplinary care approach will require precise coordination on the front end but has the potential to improve the overall quality of care and be much less work for both the patient and physicians in the long run. 
“A collaborative consultation, where the patient is in the room with their care team that includes providers from all of the relevant disciplines, has the potential to enhance individualized decision making and make a real impact in the disease and our approaches to treatment,” said Thomas, an associate professor of neurological sciences and the division chief for neuro-oncology at the UVM Cancer Center.
The study will enroll 40 patients over the course of the year to measure patient-physician communication and understanding around prognosis.