ASTCT asked Lori Muffly, MD questions about what it is like to be a woman in the transplantation and cellular therapy field in celebration of Women's History Month, March 2023.
What inspired you to enter the BMT and Cellular Therapy field?
I was first introduced to BMT during my internal medicine residency at Dartmouth Hitchcock. During that time, I had an opportunity to spend a few months on the leukemia/BMT unit with the hematologic malignancy/transplant faculty (Drs. Hill, Bengston, Meehan, to name a few) and was able to witness what extraordinary compassion they brought to their patients and how exciting the field was from a scientific perspective. Later, during my hematology/oncology fellowship at the University of Chicago, I was mentored by Drs. Artz and Stock—together, and in complementary ways, they taught me how to become a leukemia/transplant physician, how to think about research questions, and that truly kind people can succeed in our field. It was in Chicago that I learned how to become a clinical researcher and gained the confidence in myself that propelled me to take career risks and to take advantage of opportunities that crossed my path over the years.
How do you inspire others?
I really love my work, and I think that is obvious to those who work with me, and to my patients and mentees. I chose a path in academic medicine because it is fun—I love working on research projects and bringing people together to expand my scientific network. We spend so much time and energy on our work—I hope that everyone in our field has a similar opportunity to choose a path that allows them to have fun and to feel engaged and fulfilled.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in this field?
I am excited when I look around at meetings and see the growing numbers of junior and mid-career women in our field. There are so many who are doing great work and making their mark. I feel very proud to be in this field and being a woman, in my opinion, only makes it better!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Aside from my great fortune of marrying a wonderful partner and raising three lovely and talented sons, my greatest career achievement has been accomplishing more than I ever envisioned was possible. I was raised by a stay-at-home mother and a small business owner, and academia was unfamiliar territory for our family. My childhood dream was to become a doctor and to make a positive impact. Throughout my medical training, I never thought I had what it took to be successful in research or academic medicine. In fact, my first idea for a research project only came during my second year of fellowship and it took me by surprise- how much I loved the process of investigation, writing, and collaborating. I am proud of myself that I gave it a try and that I subsequently allowed myself to dream big and believe in my own creativity and abilities.
Who are your heroes in real life?
There are so many that it’s really an impossible question to answer. Of course, my patients are my heroes- I cannot imagine facing many of the things that they deal with, often at a young age, with so much strength and grace. I work with the most fabulous nurse coordinators who have really become heroes to me- they work tirelessly for our patients and give so much- that can actually be said of the entire program at Stanford- everyone puts their heart and soul into it. My mentors and research collaborators are my heroes because they are so capable and have such a positive influence on my life and career. My husband is my hero because he is so creative and inventive and has such an incredibly unique mind. Finally, as a big tennis fan, I consider Rafael Nadal a hero because he is the best of the best but also so gracious.
Tags: astct, Womens History Month, board of directors, womens history, Women's History Month