Sunday, October 20, 2019

"Bad Blood: Battling Cancer in the U.S. and Vietnam" - An Interview with Michelle Hermiston, Ph.D. M.D. of UCSF

By Shoshana Harlem (MSS Intern, Terra Linda High School) 

Dr. Michelle Hermiston,  M.D. Ph.D. is director of the pediatric immunotherapy program at UCSF. She studies blood cancers in children and also works in Vietnam developing infrastructure for pediatric oncology.


  1. What made you interested in doing cancer outreach work in Vietnam? 

I am passionate about curing children with cancer. The cure rates for children with cancer in the United States is approaching 85% due to advances in basic research and clinical trials. However, 80% of children with cancer live in low or middle income countries (LMIC) where outcomes range from 5-40%. 


   2. What infrastructure have you already developed in Vietnam for children with cancer and other blood diseases? 

Our team at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals Oakland and San Francisco have been working with an international team of investigators to improve childhood cancer outcomes. We are using an implementation science approach. So far, we have performed a needs assessment involving all hospitals nationally that care for kids with cancer. Out initial interventions have focused on education, establishing a platform for kids with cancer. Our initial interventions have focused on education, establishing a platform for data collection for quality improvement and eventual clinical studies purposes, and development of uniform treatment protocols. 

   3. What is your role of the director of the pediatric immunotherapy program at UCSF? 

I oversee the development and implementation of our pediatric immunotherapy program. I am the principle investigator for several chimeric antigen receptor t (car-t) cell trials and oversee the care of these patients. 

   4. What are the best parts of your job? 

There is nothing better than curing a child of cancer and giving them a second change at life. No two days are the same. I have the privilege to work with an amazing interprofessional team. The children and their families I care for are inspiring and strong. I get to learn something new every day and be at the forefront of new technologies. I get to take this knowledge to a LMIC setting where I have the opportunity to improve outcomes for even more kids. 

   5. What are the hardest parts of your job? 

The hardest part is when a child's cancer is smarter than our best science. Our work is not done until we can cure every child, no matter what zipcode they happen to randomly be born into. 

Want to learn more about Michelle Hermiston and cancer? Join us on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at Terra Linda High School from 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM in Room 207!



"Transportation Research Panel" - An Interview with En-Ya Zhang from the MSEL Transportation Team

by Shoshana Harlem, Terra Linda High School En-Ya Zhang is a Sophomore at Terra Linda High School. She is part of MSEL's Transportati...

About Us

Marin Science Seminar is a one-hour science lecture/presentation with a question and answer period open to all interested local teenagers, educators and community. Seminar sessions are held 12 Wednesday evenings during the school year, from 7:30 to 8:30 pm in room 207 at Terra Linda High School, 320 Nova Albion Way, San Rafael. Seminar speakers are scientists, mathematicians, engineers, physicians, technologists and computer programmers. The topics presented are in a specific area of the speaker’s expertise, geared to interested high school students.