There is no doubt that finding a cure for cancer drives Dr. Patricia Mucci LoRusso’s life.
Recognized among her peers as one of the top cancer drug researchers in the nation, Dr. LoRusso began her research career while a student at Marygrove. Her student internships, arranged through Marygrove, began at Ethyl Corporation and Ford Motor Company. She cites professors Suzanne Fleming, IHM (Chemistry) and Donald Rizzo, Ph.D. (Biology) as inspiring and helpful in enlarging her experiences. Veronica Maher, IHM, introduced her to cancer research during her final undergraduate internship, which was done at the Michigan Cancer Foundation (now the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute). This began her love for cancer research.
Dr. LoRusso earned her medical degree at Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Riverside Hospital in Trenton, Mich., and followed with a fellowship in the division of hematology and oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Detroit Medical Center’s Harper Hospital.
According to her colleague, Dr. Anthony F. Shields, “Pat has led the Phase I Clinical Trial Program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute since 1995 and provides the scientific expertise and inspiration for the design of many new treatments. Her professional pursuit to find safe, effective new treatments for cancer is mirrored in the clinical insight she demonstrates when caring for patients. She has been involved in a number of new treatment investigations, including many that have reached patients across the globe. She is world renowned for her scientific and medical expertise in cancer care, yet chooses to practice medicine very close to her alma mater.”
Since l989, Dr. LoRusso has taught several courses related to cancer treatments and drug therapies at Wayne State University School of Medicine and now is a tenured professor in the division of hematology and oncology. The National
Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute and various pharmaceutical companies have awarded her with dozens of grants for cancer research and development of new cancer treatment drugs. Her work has been included in hundreds of articles and abstracts on treatments for many types of cancer.
Despite the emphasis on research, Dr. LoRusso never loses sight of her patients and how the disease affects them. While still a student at Marygrove, she was “hugely influenced” by Patricia Cooney who taught theology. She learned the importance of giving patients faith as well as treating their ailments.
Another associate, Shirish M. Gadgeel, M.D., says, “Her accomplishments as a clinical researcher are well recognized and well documented. However, her most outstanding ability is to care for her patients. Despite her many responsibilities as a researcher, Dr. LoRusso has managed to maintain her focus on taking care of her patients and doing her best for them. She views her true reward is not in the many publications, presentations and awards she has received, but in her patients doing well and living longer.”
Dr. LoRusso offers high praise for Marygrove for “...giving me a solid foundation for more than just my academic achievements. It enhanced multiple dimensions that have enabled me to be successful in my career.” The college chapel was the site of her wedding to Julian LoRusso. The couple adopted three children. According to Dr. Shields, all of her colleagues “...know that her family is a priority and she adjusts her crazy schedule to make sure she can spend time with them. As a result, I often get emails from her in the morning that she has written about work related issues at 3 a.m. -- this is clearly a time that does not interfere with family time, just sleep.”
She tells students that the individual attention that Marygrove students receive is very helpful in achieving success. On receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award, she says it gives her a feeling of approval and appreciation for her accomplishments.
Dr. LoRusso squeezes in time to raise vegetables in her garden. Her deep faith is a sustaining element in her professional and personal life.