May 29, 2020
Megan Haymart, MD, Nancy Wigginton Endocrinology Research Professor of Thyroid Cancer, Associate Professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, and member of the Rogel Cancer Center, is an endocrinologist who treats patients with thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. Dr. Haymart's research is focused on the role the health system, patient, and provider plays in the diagnosis and management of thyroid cancer. Her research work also includes studying thyroid cancer outcomes and the rise in thyroid cancer incidence.
Dr. Haymart is the Health Services Research Director of ThyCARE (Thyroid CAncer REsearch), a program she helped to create with the goal of improving patient care through research. She is also a member of the Centers for Healthcare Outcomes & Policy (CHOP), Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes Research Team (CanSORT), and Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation (IHPI).
In 2017, Dr. Haymart was honored with the American Thyroid Association (ATA) Van Meter Award Lecture, which recognizes outstanding contributions to research on the thyroid gland and related subjects. And just recently, she was asked to chair the American Cancer Society’s ResearcHERS campaign which brings together the community’s most influential female leaders to raise funds to fuel the work of women scientists.
Behind the Scenes with Dr. Megan Haymart
What is your research about?
Over the past decade, I have built a highly productive thyroid cancer outcomes, population health, and cancer care delivery research program. Creating this program was possible because of my ability to identify talented U-M collaborators in specialties that include biostatistics, health economics, survey methodology, oncology, surgery, and radiology. I value my colleagues and it is through our collaborations that we have been able to study thyroid cancer across the disease continuum - from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship. Our focus is broad, allowing us to tackle many of the pressing issues my patients face, including quality of life, treatment decision-making, cancer-related worry, and disparities in care.
Two of Dr. Haymart’s recent studies include:
- Role of Patient Maximizing-Minimizing Preferences in Thyroid Cancer Surveillance - Learn more in the article “For Low-Risk Thyroid Cancer Patients, Less May Be More for Post-Surgery Surveillance”
- Patient-Perceived Lack of Choice in Receipt of Radioactive Iodine for Treatment of Differentiated Thyroid Cancer - Learn more in the article “Study: Many Thyroid Cancer Patients Say They Had No Choice About Radioactive Iodine”
Why are you interested in this area of research and what are your goals?
Thyroid cancer remains an understudied cancer that disproportionately affects women and young adults. Through my team's research, we can potentially implement changes in the clinic that improve the quality of care for our patients. My research is motivated by the desire to improve patient care, patient-provider communications, and access to care.
You are serving as chair of the American Cancer Society’s ResearcHERS campaign. Why is this program important to you?
I'm a strong advocate of women as researchers and leaders. Women can face additional challenges than those of their male counterparts that can leave them at a disadvantage in terms of internal support, funding for projects, and just plain time. We need to give women in research more opportunities, and this program is a way to support and recognize them.
To learn more, visit American Cancer Society's ResearcHERS.
What are your clinical interests?
I see and treat patients with thyroid disease at the Rogel Cancer Center. I love the individual interactions with patients and establishing a relationship with them. My patients are the ones who inspire my research.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your clinical and research work?
COVID-19 has required physicians and researchers to be flexible. We have had to adapt to new clinical responsibilities as well as to changes to our research environment. This has been difficult as our personal lives are also disrupted (especially those of us with children). However, we try to move forward, put patients first, and keep our research vision and academic dreams a priority.
What are your favorite parts of your job?
I enjoy the creativity that is required with research, and strategizing and executing each of my projects. I also like collaborating with my talented colleagues and training the next generation of researchers. Finally, it is rewarding to go home every day and feel like my work may make a difference, either for one of my patients or patients elsewhere in the world.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
I’m happiest, and I think ultimately the most productive, when my life is balanced. Although my day-to-day balance may sometimes be skewed, over the course of a month, I try to make sure things even out. My family is a great source of support for me and I wholeheartedly value them. I never forget how important they are.