Dr. Tycel Phillips - Searching for Better Treatments

Tycel Phillips, MD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and the Rogel Cancer Center, is a medical oncologist focused on the management and treatment of patients afflicted with lymphoma. His research is focused on developing clinical trials that test new treatments and treatment combinations for lymphoma. Dr. Phillips was one of fourteen faculty members named to the 2019 inaugural class of Rogel Scholars where he received funding support to continue on his path of finding better treatment options for lymphoma.

Behind the Scenes with Dr. Tycel Phillips

Dr. Tycel Phillips

What is your research about?

My research is focused on new and potentially less toxic treatment regimens in patients with lymphoma. The vast majority of the studies that I am currently leading are utilizing non-cytotoxic (non-DNA damaging) chemotherapeutic agents to treat patients with both newly diagnosed as well as relapsed/refractory lymphoma.

One of Dr. Phillips' studies was featured on OncLive earlier this year: Combination Use of Treanda Plus Calquence Shows Promise in Mantle Cell Lymphoma Subset”.

Why does this area of research interest you?

I became interested in the concept of cancer treatments with reduced toxicity, with similar to improved benefits, after seeing some of the side effects firsthand when a close family member was diagnosed with cancer. When I decided to pursue a career in lymphoma, this desire carried over.

Additionally, with improvement in our understanding of what makes these cancers tick, it has opened up a plethora of targets that we can exploit that can hopefully spare normal cells/tissue. So exploring these agents in this population and evaluating responses, as well as toxicities, has really been the catalyst for research interests.

The ultimate goal of my research is to improve tolerance and outcomes in patients with lymphoma.

How did you first become interested in helping patients with lymphoma?

I was first exposed to lymphoma as a fellow in Cleveland. I was extremely fascinated by a disease that could still be cured irrespective of degree of involvement at diagnosis, which was quite different from most cancers. In addition, at that time several oral medications were being explored/approved for the management of lymphoma.

How do you spend your day when you are seeing patients?

Most of my time with respect to patient care is spent in the clinic at the Rogel Cancer Center. In my clinic, I see patients who have a mix of several different subtypes of lymphoma. I will, as well, spend six weeks on the inpatient service which is composed mostly of patients who are afflicted with acute leukemia.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering specializing in hematology and oncology?

The journey to complete your training is long and arduous, but ultimately rewarding. The biggest thing to know going into this is that your time is precious and also what you are being asked to give up the most. Again, the key thing to remember is that, in the end, the difference you make in the lives of others is truly rewarding. Holding on to the values that led you to pursue a career in medicine is essential to ensure that you continue to provide the best care possible to all patients.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Even when you don’t realize it, you are making a major impact in the lives of not only your patients, but also of their family and friends. 

Who has inspired you the most?

There are several people, but the two most important are my mother and my paternal grandmother.

More about Dr. Phillips…

You can check out his current clinical studies at UMHealthResearch.org.

You can find all of his publications and read more about his research at Michigan Research Experts.