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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Aug 4, 2021

Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP, is Associate Dean for Oncologic Sciences at the Warren Alpert Medical School, Director, Cancer Center at Brown University, practicing oncologist and ACS Professor. El-Deiry earned MD/PhD degrees at U. Miami, completed Medicine residency, Oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins where he discovered CDK-inhibitor p21WAF1. He was HHMI Investigator, tenured Professor of Medicine, Genetics and Pharmacology, Associate Director for Physician-Scientist Training in Hem-Onc, and Radiobiology Program leader at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. He was Chief of Hem-Onc at Penn State, and Deputy Director at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. El-Deiry discovered TRAIL death receptor DR5, TRAIL-Inducing Compound #10 (TIC10), and founded Oncoceutics to bring TIC10/ONC201 to patients where it showed exceptional responses against glioblastoma. He has >400 publications, 5-edited books, H-Index of 120 with > 83,000 citations in Google Scholar. He is an ASCI, AAP member, Past President of Interurban Clinical Club (2013-2014), and Elected Member of Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2014). He won the Michael Brown Award (Penn), the Elizabeth and John Cox Award (Georgetown), and the International Kuwait Prize for Cancer. Dr. El-Deiry trained many students, fellows, physician-scientists, and continues to mentor scientists and faculty in basic and translational cancer research. Dr. El-Deiry is one of the original physician-scientists on social media who was recognized among the top 10 Oncologists in the world for impact on Twitter in 2021. Follow him @weldeiry

“If you try 10 things and one of them works, you'll be successful.” From naming the WAF1 gene as an oncology fellow to becoming one of the most cited researchers in oncology, Dr. El-Deiry shares with us his unique journey in the space of cancer research. Join us as he shares anecdotes from his early career, overcoming rejections and developing a persistent yet agile mindset to make his mark in medicine.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. If you limit yourself to one attempt and fail, you will think of yourself as a failure. Try your hand at ten things. If you succeed at even one of them, then you are successful.
2. There's a fine line between believing in what you do and understanding the limitations of your idea. That’s when you can decide to continue being persistent or decide to be agile and open to change.
3. Finding the right mentor is crucial. What separates a good mentee from a great mentee is their drive to keep trying different things and perpetually reaching out to their mentor to find the right answer.