Scientist Spotlight: Katy Pennington

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Name: Kathryn Pennington, MD

Institution: University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle

Area of expertise: Gynecologic cancer

My work

I am a gynecologic oncologist who cares for patients with vulvar cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal cancers, as well as ovarian and uterine cancers. I also perform research. My main research goal is to make discoveries that will translate to improved patient care and improve the lives of individuals with gynecologic cancer.

Dr. Pennington

Individuals with Fanconi anemia (FA) have a significantly increased risk of developing anogenital squamous cell cancers, including vulvar, cervical, vaginal, and anal cancers. Treating anogenital cancers in individuals with FA can be challenging because they have extreme sensitivity to radiation and platinum-based chemotherapy, which are often used for these treating cancers. Because FA is a rare disease, not enough is known about the ideal way to treat these cancers in individuals with FA.

I am developing a comprehensive registry of anogenital squamous cell cancers in FA with detailed data, treatment, and long-term clinical outcomes, along with corresponding comprehensive molecular profiling of tumors (in partnership with Dr. Agata Smogorzewska at the Rockefeller University). This database will be extremely valuable to the FA community and is an important step in learning how to best treat these cancers.

What motivates me to work on FA:

Due to my expertise in anogenital cancers, I was asked to join the Scientific Advisory Board at FARF in 2019, and I immediately felt welcomed by your amazing community. I am truly in awe of how much the FA community has already accomplished in learning how to treat this rare and challenging disease, and how you all have supported each other. I believe we can make even more progress and I want to be a part of it!

When I’m not in the lab, you could find me: 

Doing surgery or taking care of patients in the hospital or in clinic. When I’m not at work, I spend time with my husband, 10-year-old son, and three cats. I enjoy hiking and spending time in nature. I really love animals, and observing wildlife is one of my favorite things to do.

Anything else you want FA families to know?

I have so much hope that can continue to improve the lives of individuals with FA. I am inspired to help in any way that I can. If you have FA and have been diagnosed with an anogenital cancer, please consider participating in our registry. I would love to talk to you about it!

Dr. Pennington with her son, Kyle

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