Feb. 26, 2024

Where Science Becomes Hope: Winship researcher realizes childhood mission to discover novel ways to treat cancer

Winship researcher Chrystal Paulos, PhD, reflects on her team's role in inspiring hope through the science of cancer research.

Chrystal Paulos, PhD, is director of translational research in cutaneous malignancies for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and holds the David H. Lawson Professorship in Cancer Research. Her laboratory seeks to identify mechanisms underlying protective immunity in solid tumors with an emphasis on adoptive T cell transfer (ACT) therapy.

Paulos was inspired to work in cancer research as a child when her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. With limited treatment options of the past, her grandmother sadly succumbed to the disease. It was then that Paulos knew she wanted to work in cancer research and give people hope for a longer, better life after a cancer diagnosis.

Recently, Paulos shared how she and her team strive to inspire hope via their work in cancer research at Winship Cancer Institute.

What are some ways that your work at Winship inspires hope?

Where science becomes hope is in finding new discoveries. I work really closely with physician scientists. I'm the director of translational research for cutaneous malignancies, I am on tumor boards, and I work with medical oncologists, surgeons, as well as basic scientists.

What I am really excited about, where hope is happening in my opinion, is in patients that are getting immunotherapy. There are immunotherapies that can wake up the immune system so that the immune system can kill a tumor.

We have found that discoveries made in the lab can translate to patients really rapidly. In fact, we're now able to find new discoveries and ask questions in clinical trials to determine whether a therapy might be more effective. That really generates hope, and it inspires the mentor too to ask even broader questions.

What inspires you and your team to help science become hope at Winship Cancer Institute?

What personally inspires me is seeing advancement in medicine. What I mean by that is I have had the privilege of seeing patients being treated with novel therapies that actually make a difference in their life.

I've been on tumor boards where I can see tumors shrinking, and in some instances where there's even, dare I say, the word “cure”.

That is what keeps me up and excited about this work, and to empower the next generation of scientists to improve these responses, because not everyone has an anti-tumor response or does well. We want to really figure that out.

The next generation of scientists are really empowering us and helping us think in different ways about how we can improve medicine.

How important is cancer research to inspiring hope and improving patient outcomes?

Cancer research matters a lot. My grandmother died of breast cancer a long time ago when I was a kid. It always stuck with me. That's the moment I knew I wanted to do cancer research.

Today, if she would have been diagnosed with breast cancer, I think she would've had a much better shot. That's because of cancer research. We're now discovering pathways that we can harness, where we can induce a response against breast cancer.

We're combining immunotherapies with drug-targeted strategies, and these therapies together are making a difference in increasing survival of patients now. This has now become possible due to cancer research. Cancer research is so important. It can change the life of our patients, and those patients can now go to their daughters’ weddings. It makes a huge difference. It is so important to invest in cancer research. 

The good news is that these gender disparities, along with racial inequities, are more and more being brought into the spotlight and efforts made by everyone involved in health care to address them. I have great hopes that with continued transparency, these disparities will be rectified.


Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is where science becomes hope.

Who have you observed inspiring hope in our patients, our team or our community? We would love to hear from you. If you have a story to share about someone inspiring hope at Winship, reach out to us using this form.




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