In time for Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, we sat down with UNC Lineberger’s Vickie Bae-Jump, MD, PhD, a researcher and physician in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Bae-Jump will be speaking Oct. 11 at the She ROCKS luncheon in Wilmington that raises money for ovarian cancer research.

Vickie Bae-Jump, MD, PhD, is focused on advancing knowledge about gynecologic cancers in the lab and clinic.

For Vickie Bae-Jump, MD, PhD, a researcher and a physician treating women with gynecologic cancers, sometimes helping just one person is a reward in and of itself.

Last year, hundreds of people attended the She ROCKS (Research Ovarian Cancer Knowledge Support) fundraiser for ovarian cancer research. Bae-Jump spoke about genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, which are linked to higher breast and ovarian cancer risk. Bae-Jump subsequently learned her talk motivated a woman to be tested for BRCA mutations. The woman, who had a family history of breast cancer, was confirmed positive, and she took action to lower her cancer risk.

“If you can do that for one person, it’s big,” she said.

Bae-Jump is also focused on helping many more. At the UNC Lineberger, she’s studying the link between obesity, metabolism and ovarian and endometrial cancers (cancer of the lining of the uterus), with the goal to identify new possible treatments for these diseases. She is also conducting clinical investigations of whether metformin can improve metabolism and break the link between obesity and gynecologic cancers.

What do you love about your position with UNC Lineberger?

“It definitely would be the fact that I get to take care of all of the brave women who are fighting gynecologic cancers, but that I also get to work in my lab on new treatments to hopefully improve outcomes for them. I feel like I get to help women in two different ways, both of which are important.”

What inspired you to go into medicine?

“It was definitely my dad. He was a pediatrician in solo private practice, and absolutely loved what he did. He went to work every day happy and smiling, and so he was definitely the person who taught me that being a doctor was going to be a fulfilling career.”

Can you share one standout moment that made you feel like you were making a difference?

“I think that, after all the many years that I worked on metformin in my lab in cell lines and animal models, and then my pilot study in endometrial cancer patients, it was such a good feeling when it finally led to the opening of a phase 2-3 study. That was a pretty good feeling. Years of work led up to that. Over 540 women are going to be enrolled in that study. We’ll learn whether metformin is going to be helpful for these women, but we are also collecting many biological samples, and studying different aspects of obesity. We’ll learn quite a bit about the disease from that trial.”

If you weren’t doing this, what other career could you see yourself doing?

“The only other career I ever considered was being a violinist. I played the violin all the way through college and I loved it…but I probably wouldn’t be good enough to do that full-time. However, that was something else that I truly loved.”