Melanie Rutkowski, PhD, Research Covered in Association of American Medical Colleges Story About Personalized Medicine

A team headed by Melanie Rutkowski, PhD, associate professor at the UVA School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology, is conducting experiments to understand how differences in the diversity and health of gut bacteria, or microbiome, impact breast and ovarian cancer outcomes. Dr. Rutkowski is part of an emerging field of study focused on personalizing treatments to individual patients’ needs, according to a story published by the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

Dr. Rutkowski hopes that basic science experiments will someday reveal a link between gut health and cancer that can be translated into preventive personalized health strategies and therapeutics to reduce cancer metastasis. Because gut health is specific to an individual and is influenced by a wide range of factors, any related therapeutics would be personalized to the individual patient.

Dr. Rutkowski began her journey to personalized medicine as a postdoc by asking the question, “Why do some diseases affect people differently?” Answering that question, whether through her research into the microbiome or for any variety of factors influencing health, she says, “opens a world of possibilities.” She believes more research could help individuals make better informed decisions about their diets to improve the makeup of their microbiomes, thus helping to protect their overall health, including risk of cancer metastasis.

View the article on the SOM website

View the original article on the AAMC website