The Providence Difference: How Our Endocrinologist-Scientists Are Leading the Way

Providence Saint John’s Health Center aims to provide advanced personalized care for all of its patients who have endocrine conditions. Finding the best course of action to take for the treatment of each of these patients require in-depth understanding of the nature of their disorders and of the factors that can contribute to the success or failure of their treatment.

At the helm of the health center’s endocrine tumor and bone disease programs are fellowship-trained endocrine physicians who also happen to be committed to a number of research and discovery endeavors. These physician-scientists work on various projects, collaborating with many other experts in their field of work to advance patient care and to discover groundbreaking knowledge and techniques that can improve the health and quality of life of people with endocrine cancers and bone conditions.

Boosting adolescent and young adult patients’ fight against cancer

The director of the endocrine tumor program of the hospital’s John Wayne Cancer Institute, Melanie Goldfarb, M.D., MS, FACS, is a specialist clinician who delivers expert surgical care to patients with thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and neuroendocrine tumors. She specializes in minimal access surgery, which helps in minimizing the pain that the patients experience in addition to reducing the time they spend recovering from the treatment.  

Aside from her expertise in the clinical setting, Dr. Goldfarb is also involved in a variety of research programs. One of her focus areas is the field of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers. Because some 70,000 young people aged 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States, Dr. Goldfarb’s work represents a significant professional resource for clinicians who labor tirelessly to help improve the lives of young people with cancer.

Other research areas in which Dr. Goldfarb is active in include endocrine tumors, thyroid ultrasound, secondary malignancies, and cancer survivorship. She also serves on committees for various organizations, including the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, the American Thyroid Association, the Society for Surgical Oncology, and the Children's Oncology Group.

Finding better ways to diagnose and treat diseases

Another Providence St. John’s Health Center physician-scientist who is making a big difference through his work as a researcher is Frederick Singer, M.D. An endocrinologist and a nationally recognized authority on the impact of cancer and cancer treatments on bone health, Dr. Singer currently serves as the director of the endocrine/bone disease program of the John Wayne Cancer Institute.

One of his most important advocacies is for the improvement of the management of bone health for cancer patient. It arose from his acknowledgement of the fact that many cancer treatments like chemotherapy and hormone therapy can weaken patients’ bones and leave them with bone-thinning diseases like osteoporosis, which can subsequently have a serious negative impact on their health and quality of life.

Other research programs in which Dr. Singer is actively involved with include a continuing study on the connection between melanoma skin cancer and vitamin D deficiency, as well as an ongoing investigation of the cause of Piaget’s disease, a condition that results in deformed and abnormal bones. While the cause of the disease remains a debated topic, Dr. Singer’s research has revealed that viruses such as the measles virus might be involved.

His latest project is a collaboration with Dr. Goldfarb on parathyroid tumors. Both experts are working hand-in-hand to discover improved ways to detect abnormal parathyroid tumors in order to help surgeons provide better surgical care to patients. Additionally, he is also working with Dave S.B Hoon, PhD, chief scientific intelligence and director of the institute’s genomics sequencing center. With the help of the gene sequencing technology in Dr. Hoon’s laboratory, Dr. Singer hopes to be able to identify proteins that would indicate whether a tumor is present in just one or on all of the patient’s four parathyroid glands.

If you want to learn more about the clinical and research work of our physicians, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You may also visit Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, or schedule an appointment to see one of our health professionals.

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