Dr. Keila Torres, M.D. Ph.D, a graduate from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University in New York, decided to make a difference in those who are affected by cancer after losing a loved one to sarcoma (a rare but aggressive type of cancer for which no curative therapy exists). The Puerto Rican born doctor is a surgeon at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas where she specializes in providing surgical care to patients with sarcoma. She is also a scientist who leads a laboratory whose primary goal is to understand how these aggressive tumors grow and how they can be treated with more effective therapies.
Her efforts have culminated in several scientific publications regarding the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease, as well as clinical articles and book chapters that have advanced the standard of care for sarcoma patients. Dr. Torres has received several awards recognizing her academic work, including the 2011 SARC Career Development Award, the NCI Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) (2012-2016), and the 2015 American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) Young Physician-Scientist Award. Furthermore, she has been recognized for excellent patient care for which she received the 2015 Commitment to Care Award.
Dr. Torres' commitment to sarcoma patients does not stop at her professional calling. She is also a board member of the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation in Houston, TX, and actively supports the Sally M. Kingsbury Sarcoma Cancer Research Foundation in New Braunfels, TX. Much of the doctor's passion and charity work revolves around increasing sarcoma education and awareness. In collaboration with Kim Hartz, a talented photographer, Dr. Torres is steering a sarcoma awareness campaign using canine companions as advocates. The goal is to empower patients and their relatives to collaborate with the scientific community in search of the cure for sarcoma, a mission that will impact future generations.
Dr. Torres is also the author of “Teaching your dog and you”. This book is based on her love of training dogs and her experiences with her three loving Labrador retrievers – Stanley, Albert and Emma. She shares her experience using positive reinforcement and how this method of training results in reliable, obedient behavior. After learning that sarcoma is the most common form of cancer in our furry best friends, Keila decided that our dogs deserve access to better treatments, as well. A portion of the profits from her soon-to-be-released book will be donated to advance canine cancer research and related clinical trials that will provide insight into cancer treatment for humans, including sarcoma. When Dr. Torres is not at the hospital or the laboratory, she treasures her time with her husband Jason and her three dogs.