Matthew Milowsky, MD, co-director of the urologic oncology program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, is passionate about treating patients with genitourinary malignancies, including cancer of the bladder, prostate, kidney and testes. He also is a dedicated scientist who is conducting research into experimental — and potentially better — treatments for these cancers.
We spoke with Dr. Milowsky to learn more about his path to medicine, his interest in clinical science and his aspiration to become a better guitarist.
What do you love most about your position?
“What I love most is the ability to not only take care of patients but also to do research that’s designed to develop better therapies for the patients that I care for. That’s one of the exciting things about being in academic medicine. You have the ability to really move the field forward by doing clinical trials that can have a major impact on the people you’re taking care of.”
What inspired you to go into medicine?
“I was interested in medicine when I applied to college, but once I was there I became interested in other things. I was actually a philosophy major in college, and at one time I decided I wasn’t going to practice medicine and I would study philosophy. I called my father and said, ‘Dad, I think I’m going to become a philosopher.’ There was a very, very long pause on the phone. Ultimately I came back to medicine after college graduation.”
Is there a standout moment in your career that made you say to yourself, ‘this is why I do what I do’?
“There are so many of those moments, but there is one patient, a young man with advanced testicular cancer, that I always think back to. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the disease. I was a resident at the time and took care of him when he was in the intensive care unit. Now I treat urological and testicular cancer and, although I can’t necessarily know for certain if that experience influenced my career path, that patient and his family has always stuck with me.”
What do you think you’d be doing career-wise today if you hadn’t decided to go into medicine?
“I play guitar and have for many years. When I was living in New York, I took jazz guitar lessons and I’m actually taking lessons here in North Carolina. So, I would probably be studying music more seriously.”