The reputable Center for Public Integrity solicited Dr. Alice Boylan from the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2010 to help with its in-depth series “Dangers in the Dust, Inside the Global Asbestos Trade.”
There was a good reason: She established herself as an authority in diseases of the pleura, such as mesothelioma, a rare cancer attributed to asbestos exposure.
Boylan, director of the Medical Acute and Critical Care Department at MUSC, has been studying pulmonary disease since the ’80s during her training at the Dartmouth Medical Center in New Hampshire and the University of California in San Francisco.
She has been at MUSC since 1995, where she has carved her niche as an associate professor of medicine, pursuing her interests in bronchoscopy, lung cancer and asbestos-related lung conditions that include pulmonary diseases, as well as pleural effusions, plaques and thickening.
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In the book, “Breathing in America: Diseases, Progress and Hope,” released in 2010, Boylan wrote the chapter on pleural disease. In that chapter, she published her case study of actor and film icon Steve McQueen, who died from mesothelioma in 1980 after exhausting all available treatments in the U.S. and traveling to Mexico to seek alternative options.
“At the time of his diagnosis, there was no treatment for mesothelioma,” Boylan wrote. “Unfortunately, more than 30 years later, the prognosis for malignant mesothelioma is not much different than it was in McQueen’s time. The McQueen story of a desperate attempt to find a cure continues to challenge science and medicine today.”
Boylan recently finished work as the primary and co-investigator on two different studies, using grants totaling $1.5 million. The first was the Role of Oncogene in Mesothelioma, and the other was Molecular Markers of Malignancy Compared to Histology in Bronchial Samples.
She previously was awarded grants from the American Lung Association, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy, among others.
In the last several years, Boylan has co-chaired a variety of conferences and symposiums, including “Mesothelioma and Translational Pleural Disease.” She has lectured many times on the diagnosis and management of mesothelioma at various venues.
Her speaking engagements on the topic of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lung diseases were well received at professional organization meetings, including the American Thoracic Association annual meetings; cancer centers and medical colleges, including like Yale University Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
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