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CV: Dr. Toni Barnes

December 22, 2008


Bio basics: An associate scientist in the cancer program and discipline of clinical epidemiology at SRI. Calgary-born, attended Queen’s University for an undergraduate degree in biochemistry; returned to Alberta for medical school at the University of Calgary; then completed residency in radiation oncology at the University of Alberta. Completed fellowship in palliative care at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, in Houston, and then moved to Toronto for a staff job as a radiation oncologist at the Odette Cancer Center. Research specialty is palliative radiotherapy.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A radiation oncologist—like my parents. Both of them [now retired] worked at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary.

What is your proudest achievement?

Professionally, I would have to say getting into medical school and [publishing] my first paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (in 2000).

What part of being a scientist do you enjoy the most?

Being able to do work in a field that interests me, alongside colleagues with similar interests who are supportive of my work.

What, in your research recently, has surprised you?

That sometimes asking seemingly basic questions can yield surprising and useful information. For example, the last study I did looked at patients’ perception of family physician involvement in their cancer care. That only 43% felt their family physician was involved surprised me. And these results were pretty much identical to two previous studies—one conducted almost 20 years ago. Patients still do not realize that their family physicians can play an important role in their cancer care, and this in spite of interim research that shows that family physician involvement after a patient’s cancer diagnosis is associated with higher quality-of-life scores, and lower rates of emergency room visits and hospital deaths at the end of life.

At the end of it all, what would you like to have accomplished?

Apart from research, what I value most is providing excellent clinical care to patients, especially those at the end-of-life.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing at all.

In a perfect world, what?

Every day is sale day at Holt Renfrew.

Dr. Toni Barnes