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Meet Yale Internal Medicine: Jacquelyne Gaddy, MD, MSc, MSCR, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology)

September 28, 2023
by Osman Moneer

A passionate advocate for health equity and a dedicated faculty member specializing in medical oncology, Jacquelyne Gaddy, MD, MSc, MSCR, assistant professor of medicine (medical oncology), provides compassionate care for her patients while simultaneously building a robust career in research and healthcare administration.

Gaddy’s commitment to a career in medicine developed after early life experiences observing her grandmother, who served as the unofficial healthcare provider to their community. Gaddy’s grandmother impressed upon her a profound respect for patient care and a strong sense of service.

“I grew up watching my grandmother provide care to many of our relatives during times of need and critical illnesses. Her compassion and patience left a deep impact on me," said Gaddy. “I always knew I wanted to pursue a path in medicine.”

In her final year of medical school at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Gaddy’s grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Gaddy was already compelled to provide care to the sickest patients with the greatest need and the death of her grandmother ultimately drove her to specialize in oncology as a dedication to her remarkable legacy.

After graduating from medical school, Gaddy continued her training at the University of Buffalo for internal medicine residency. She subsequently moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a medical oncology fellowship at the University of North Carolina. During her fellowship, Gaddy pursued post-doctoral training in the Department of Health Behavior, earning a master’s of science in clinical research. Last year, Gaddy joined the faculty at Yale School of Medicine as an assistant professor, caring for patients through the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center.

In her first year as faculty, Gaddy adjusted to the newfound autonomy and has already made a mark in oncology.

"Every stage in training before this final step was very much prescriptive, but now I am responsible for directing my own success,” said Gaddy. “I've learned the value of organization, setting boundaries, and prioritizing self-care. These are crucial aspects of sustaining a successful career in medicine.”

Gaddy humbly attributes her accomplishments and career advancement to a strong cast of supportive mentors, including Pamela Kunz, MD; Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS; and Sakinah Suttiratana, PhD, MPH, MBA; among many others. Gaddy credits this mentorship as instrumental to her clinical care, as well as her significant work in community outreach and engagement research.

"I came to Yale because I wanted to be in an environment that believed in my research and worth," said Gaddy. “It was clear during my recruitment at Yale that I would have the support and resources to build my career.”

Through her work in gastrointestinal oncology, Gaddy finds herself enjoying the ability to specialize on a specific type of cancer while also encountering a multitude of clinical cases. Gaddy appreciates the evolving nature of cancer medicine and values contributing to a multidisciplinary care team.

Beyond the science and medical aspects of patient care, Gaddy pays close attention to the role of social determinants of health on the well-being of her patients. Gaddy believes that people under her care need to be understood holistically. To her, recognizing the barriers faced by patients outside the walls of the hospital is paramount to providing the best care possible.

“Fully understanding my patient means not just looking at their lab values, but considering what they have to deal with outside of just medical diagnoses,” said Gaddy. “Do they have any particular challenges that may get in the way of receiving an optimal, equitable level of care?”

This commitment to addressing social determinants of health manifests in her research. Her recent work seeks to enhance diversity in clinical trial participation and explore how social determinants of health may impact cancer care delivery.

“At Yale Cancer Center, we are working to better assess social needs at intake to see if we can match our patients with any available services," said Gaddy. “We hope to determine if this improves outcomes regarding cancer progression and overall treatment adherence.”

Besides seeing patients and conducting research, Gaddy also plays a substantial role in hospital administration at the institution. As the Deputy Director of the Diversity Enhancement Program in Oncology at Smilow Cancer Hospital, Gaddy strives to increase workforce diversity among medical oncology providers. She believes that a diverse pool of providers can improve patient relationships and lead to better outcomes.

“Physicians should reflect the patient populations they are treating. Patient-provider concordance is important, as patients are more trusting of providers that actually look like them,” said Gaddy. “Beyond improving relationships between patients and doctors, greater workforce diversity also helps to close cultural gaps within providers themselves.”

Driven by a clear sense of purpose, Gaddy aims to bridge healthcare disparities and improve the lives of patients through a multifaceted approach that weaves together patient care, research, and advocacy.

The Department of Internal Medicine at Yale is among the nation's premier departments, bringing together an elite cadre of clinicians, investigators, educators, and staff in one of the world's top medical schools. To learn more, visit Internal Medicine.

Submitted by Julie Parry on September 28, 2023