Bringing Leading-edge Care to the Community: Hans Schoellhammer, M.D.
June 13, 2018
| by Travis Marshall
Hans Shoellhammer, M.D.
One of the most exciting breakthroughs in modern cancer medicine has been the development of immunotherapies that help a patient’s own immune system attack cancer. This was a concept that caught the attention of Hans Schoellhammer, M.D.
, more than 20 years ago, when he studied molecular and cell biology as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley.
“I was really struck by the immune system, and how it interacts with cancer,” said Schoellhammer, now a surgical oncologist at City of Hope’s community practice sites in Mission Hills
and Antelope Valley
. “Finding ways to activate the immune system against cancer cells has become a huge goal of cancer care.”
A native to the Los Angeles area, Schoellhammer grew up in Santa Monica, listening to stories about his late grandfather, a surgeon who practiced in Southern California. “Hearing about my grandfather’s work as a surgeon planted the idea in my mind of becoming a doctor,” he explained. “As I got older, I spent time volunteering at UCLA Medical Center, and that helped crystallize my belief that medicine would be a good way for me to help people.”
Schoellhammer moved to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University College of Medicine, where he became more interested in surgery and surgical oncology. “I was most interested in surgery because it seemed like a way to help people achieve immediate and measurable results,” he said. “But I was also interested in academic research, so I made a decision to take on a research fellowship.”
As a result, during residency, Schoellhammer accepted a postdoctoral research fellowship with the renowned melanoma
researcher Donald L. Morton at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, in his hometown of Santa Monica.
“I was interested in melanoma because, from a research standpoint, the disease has some really unique interactions with the immune system, in addition to surgical treatment options,” he said. “I worked on anti-melanoma antibody projects during my fellowship. It’s interesting to see that since then, melanoma has essentially become a poster child for immunotherapy.”
After completing postdoctoral research fellowship at the John Wayne Cancer institute and general surgery residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Schoellhammer came to City of Hope for a surgical oncology fellowship
, in part, to work with surgical oncologist Vijay Trisal
, M.D., the Dr. Norman & Melinda Payson Professor in Medicine and City of Hope’s chief medical officer.
“Dr. Trisal has been such a great role model for me — he’s a gifted surgeon who understands how to best care for patients,” Schoellhammer said. “Additionally, working more with the melanoma disease team at City of Hope, including doctors like Kim Margolin
, is one of my goals.”
Schoelhammer joined the staff of City of Hope after finishing his surgical oncology
fellowship, and he’s excited about the progress he sees happening around melanoma
and other cancers he treats, including sarcoma
and gastrointestinal cancers
. “I always wanted to work for a cancer center like City of Hope, and I knew from my first interview that this is where I wanted to be,” he said. “Everyone I’ve met here has been both great to work with, and great with our patients.”
As a surgical oncologist for the community practice sites in Mission Hills
and Antelope Valley
, Schoellhammer feels that City of Hope’s community locations play an important role for patients in these communities, including giving patients access to many of the leading-edge clinical trials occurring on City of Hope’s main campus in Duarte.
“Our community practice network allows us to bring high quality cancer care to people who may not otherwise have access to it, and I’m proud to be part of it,” Schoellhammer explained.
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