SMHS Faculty Spotlight
SMHS Faculty Spotlight
CFE (Center for Faculty Excellence)

GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center for Faculty Excellence 

June 2023 Faculty Spotlight Series
Excellence in teaching & learning, scholarly endeavors, and leadership are all around us at GW. The Center for Faculty Excellence would like to Spotlight our faculty’s contributions. In honor of the upcoming Clara Bliss Hinds Society Annual Event, we will be highlighting the three speakers for the event. Our speakers bring leadership perspectives across the Academic Medical Enterprise. We want to thank our highlighted faculty members for sharing with us their advice and perspectives!
- SMHS Center for Faculty Excellence
Dr. Julie Bauman, MD, MPH
Join the CFE as we highlight Julie Bauman, MD, MPH, who discusses her role as the Director of the GW Cancer Center and her journey within Medical Oncology, academic medicine, and leadership. Dr. Bauman also discusses her goals for the future of the center and gives advice to others who are interested in developing as leaders.


Julie E. Bauman, MD, MPH, is the director of the GW Cancer Center, associate dean of cancer, and professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences.
Bauman completed a dual MD/MPH degree at Tufts University School of Medicine, internal medicine residency at the University of Utah and medical oncology fellowship at the University of Washington / Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her education and training, at the intersection of oncology and public health, resulted in unique expertise in clinical trial design. As a recipient of the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award, Bauman is a nationally recognized leader in cancer therapeutics for both prevention and treatment, with more than 150 publications and a long track record of NIH team science funding.
Bauman is the co-principal investigator of the UA Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials Network, one of only five NCI-funded clinical trial networks devoted to drug development for cancer prevention. Her own research focuses on so-called "green chemoprevention," or the use of whole plants or their extracts for cancer prevention. Bauman also leads multiple national clinical trials for the treatment of head and neck cancer, with dedicated expertise in precision medicine and immunotherapy. She is the current co-chair of the NCI Cancer Prevention Steering Committee as well as the co-chair of the NCI Head and Neck Steering Committee’s PULA Task Force. Bauman is also a 2020 graduate of the premiere Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine fellowship for women at the Drexel University College of Medicine.

Interview Q/A

How long have you been at GW SMHS? What drew you to this current position?
Julie: I came to GW as Cancer Center Director about a year ago, in March 2022. Previously, I was the Chief of Hematology and Oncology and the Deputy Cancer Center Director at the University of Arizona. I was drawn to GW because of the opportunity to build a new cancer center within our nation's capital, founded on the twin pillars of scientific excellence and equity. The idea of building a cancer center with such profound potential impact gives me goosebumps to this day. The development of this center comes at a unique time in our organization's history with respect to the newly inscribed relationship among the Medical Faculty Associates, SMHS, and GW Hospital. There is now committed and aligned leadership around building centers of excellence, recognizing how these centers improve all aspects of the GW community and the community at large. These centers inherently recognize the alarming disparities that exist in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region, and enhance our ability to tackle inequity in a direct, constructive, and committed way, such as the development of the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center. I was drawn to GW to build the clinical half of the cancer center, bridging basic and translational science to clinical science, for the benefit our patients and communities.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in oncology and translational research?

Julie: Like many, I have a narrative. There is a personal story that represents the first moment I knew that I was an Oncologist. During my second year as a medical student, we were in our doctor-patient relationship course. Our lecturer was a gynecologic oncologist who discussed the critical aspects of this relationship and the sacred trust that exists between a patient and their physician. She talked about the things she did for and to her patients in the context of that bond, including potentially disabling or disfiguring surgeries in the name of cure. Then there came a moment when one of my classmates raised his hand and asked her, “How do you live in a profession where you have to give bad news to someone every day?” At that moment, she stepped out from behind the podium, took off her black spectacles, and said, “Because I love my patients.”

That statement is truly what I define as my North Star. In all that I do, my central focus is the patients. This fundamentally includes caring for individual patients, discovering new ways to treat cancer for improved survival, or enhancing the quality of their survivorship. And when science falters, to be a compassionate presence at the end of life. The relationships with my patients get me out of bed every day. 
As Director of the GW Cancer Center:
Can you tell us a little about your role? What does a typical day look like for you?

Julie: In building a cancer center, I liken it to being at different mountain altitudes. At lower altitudes, I am concentrating on the details, such as being a physician and taking care of an individual patient with cancer. I still see patients and view my clinical service as the fountain of my inspiration. Then at higher altitudes, towards the top of the mountain, is the wider view of the organization, including the vision and strategies for what I am building with my executive team and strategic partners across the organization. Here, we are working on our strategic plan focusing on the four central pillars of building a cancer center, including 1. high-quality, equitable care to the DC community, 2. community outreach and engagement, 3. research across the continuum, and 4. growing the diverse cancer workforce of tomorrow. At mid-altitude, I am building upon my own research portfolio, and moving forward with clinical research questions with my primary research team in head and neck cancer. My day is highly varied, and I walk up and down the mountain several times, which I find so stimulating about this role.

What is your favorite thing about your current role?

Julie: As the cancer center director, my favorite part is working with phenomenal and committed team members up and down the mountain. In some senses, working with these teams is like working with patients. It is all about helping a team or a group reach a higher goal, just as you would with a patient trying to optimize their experience with cancer. I enjoy inspiring teams toward a common vision that will ultimately create a highly interactive and successful cancer center.

What are your major goals for GW and the Center in the upcoming academic year?

Julie: We are in the midst of standing up the oncology service line, and in the coming year, I wish to establish signature programs in several cancers such as transplant and cellular therapy, breast cancer, prostate cancer, GI cancers, and tobacco-related cancers which include lung, head and neck cancer. A signature clinical program involves recruiting or catalyzing a multidisciplinary team from medical to surgical to radiation oncology and bridging that team to our outstanding basic and translational discoveries so we can bring our science to the bedside. 

We also want to stand up our core research programs. The engine of discovery for a cancer center is its research programs, with groups of highly interactive scientists. We have just restructured our research programs, revolving around cancer biology and immunology, clinical and translational oncology, and cancer control and health equity. These programs are supported by an infrastructure of shared resources to drive and enhance their science. For example, we have built a GMP (good manufacturing process), FDA-regulated cellular therapy facility in Ross Hall opening in September. We look forward to this facility bringing our cellular therapy discoveries to the bedside.
Data from 2020 indicated low gender and ethnic/cultural diversity for cancer center leadership. As one of 12 women leading a cancer center, what do you think needs to be done to diversify leadership? What can be done at the individual, university, and/or institutional (e.g., government agencies) level?

Julie: From a systems level, three things are really important. The first is diversifying search committees, which is something I feel GW does very well and is a very common principle here. A diverse search committee recognizes that the individuals who serve as ambassadors for the position, by reviewing and interviewing finalists for roles in leadership, need to represent a diversity of perspectives. The second aspect is standardizing the interviewing process for key leadership positions, which includes a carefully curated set of questions asked of each candidate. Lastly, developing individuals and creating pathways for women and other people who are underrepresented in leadership. This can be done by investing in organizational, regional, and national training programs that cultivate a pipeline of diverse leaders to serve.

As a woman in a leadership position, I am often asked to reflect on my journey. I feel what was very helpful for me in my career was seeing and working with other female cancer center directors. I am fortunate to have worked under three, which contributed to an implicit sense of that position being obtainable.
You’re one of the speakers for the June Clara Bliss Hinds Society Annual Event focused on leadership in academic medicine. Can you tell us a little about what support (programs, mentoring) helped you throughout your career to develop leadership skills?

Julie: Involvement in professional societies has allowed me to develop immensely as a leader. The first leadership program I did was within The American Society for Clinical Oncology, and I was a part of this at the beginning of my role as a new division chief in 2016. The entire training process was very valuable in discovering how to become a leader, specifically in the context of my field. The second leadership program I was a part of was ELAMwhich is an executive leadership training in academic medicine for women. This year-long program at Drexel University was one of the most phenomenal experiences for me. The program is embedded in project-based learning within one’s own organization. The experiences I had during the program helped me understand the multiple stakeholders and pathways for my own career journey within an academic medical center. Through this program, I was a part of a women in leadership community, that I still keep in touch with today. We have a meeting with one another once a month, and we still use one another as resources to navigate leadership challenges. The resource of community and networking is fundamental for my growth and development.
What impact do you hope you have on students, faculty, SMHS, science and/or patients in general?

Julie: I would describe my leadership style as ‘meaning-centered’ leadership. So, what does that mean? It means that I truly believe that human happiness, once our basic needs are met, comes from having a sense of purpose and that one's contributions towards a greater purpose are valued and visible. As a leader, I hope that I am seen as a person who inspires others to identify their sense of purpose and its connection to the larger organizational vision while helping to remove barriers while they are on their own path.
How does this spotlight/recognition make you feel?
Julie: I am honored. There is also a profound sense of arrival, which is somewhat uncomfortable as I never feel like I have arrived because I'm always striving for the next steps in a continuous journey. This spotlight means I am now a visible woman leader, and that is a great responsibility. I want to be a figure people see and relate to, to help them move toward their leadership aspirations.
What are some things that keep you motivated during the day?

Julie: There are a few things that keep me motivated. The first is the people that I work with. I find so much joy in working with the teams that I have, which are made up of wonderful human beings who help me stay inspired even when the going gets rough. The second thing is that I have a martial arts discipline, and I have trained in martial arts, initially in Chung Do Kwan Taekwondo, and, more recently, in Shotokan Karate. We have a JKA Shotokan club here at GW; my husband and I are the faculty advisors for it. I find the martial arts are both a mental and a physical discipline, which helps keep me centered. Finally, I cherish my family. My spouse and newly adult children keep me true to myself and my convictions.
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