Dr. Moding is a radiation oncologist specializing in sarcoma treatment and an assistant professor in the Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology.
Faculty Spotlight: Everett Moding, MD, PhD
Growing up, Dr. Everett Moding always loved the harder subjects in school. Math was a breeze, and science fascinated him endlessly. When he was young, his father worked as an accountant in a biotechnology company, and sometimes, a young Moding would accompany him to work. While his dad crunched the numbers, Moding would take in the scenes of the company’s bustling research lab.
“That seemed way more interesting to me than doing the financial side of things, so I would always go over and ask the scientists what they were working on,” Moding remembered. “That was a calling for me to pursue and conduct research in a lab.” It was always going to be science.
His relationship with cancer, however, spans back even further. When Moding was three, his mother passed away from pancreatic cancer. Witnessing the treatment process and the direct impact it had on his mother and family is something that has stuck with him to this day, and continues to inspire his research.
“It made me really want to help out patients in similar situations to my mom,” he remarked.
Today, Moding is an assistant professor of radiation oncology. He is the lead researcher in the Moding Lab, where research is focused on sarcomas and understanding the biology behind how a patient responds to cancer treatments like radiation therapy. He sees his role as a physician scientist as a perfect union between the clinic and the research bench; working with patients first-hand feeds the drive to innovate better, more efficacious treatments for those in need.
Coming from a scientific background, radiation oncology was attractive to Moding. He studied biochemistry as an undergrad at Colorado College before setting his sights on Duke University School of Medicine where he was exposed to the field. He was immediately drawn to the radiation’s ability to control cancer non-invasively, and seeing the impact it can make on an individual no matter the stage of disease. Coupled with the field’s emphasis on data-driven treatments and its fusion of science and technology, Moding found a home in radiation oncology. When it came to next steps, Stanford checked all the right boxes.
“I was looking for programs that have a track record of training physician scientists. That was a big draw for Stanford,” he said.
Moding appreciates the personal connection he develops with his patients throughout the course of treatment, which in turn, influences his academic pursuits in the lab.
As a principle investigator, Moding sets the directions and goals of research for his lab. Perhaps harkening back to the days of shadowing in his father’s work place, Moding strives to motivate those in his lab to ask important scientific questions.
“[The trainees] always have awesome ideas. That’s been one of the great parts of running the lab: hearing people’s ideas,” he said. “I really try to empower the people in my lab to take ownership of their projects and be independent, and to push their projects themselves.”
A major focus of Moding’s research is understanding the genetic underpinnings of a patient’s response to treatment. Using this information, he hopes to cater treatment to an individual’s biological makeup. By analyzing patient blood and tumor samples, his research has provided evidence of certain tumor mutations being associated with radiation sensitivity, potentially paving the road to personalized radiation and identifying new drug targets. With these findings, Moding also sees an opportunity to combine radiotherapy with other therapies to make overall treatment more effective.
When he’s not scrutinizing sarcomas, Moding and his family enjoy exploring the California countryside, and use any chance they can to get outside and be active. While Stanford's track record of innovation played a major role in his decision to come to Stanford, the Bay Area’s sweeping scenery certainly didn’t hurt.
“Ever since I’ve arrived at Stanford, I’ve been very impressed with the level of innovation dating back to when the department [of radiation oncology] was first founded,” Moding remarked. “I let that guide my research, especially with regards to thinking about the impact it has on patient’s lives.”
Both in the lab and clinic, Moding continues to investigate the inner-workings of cancer biology, hoping his discoveries will improve outcomes for patients.
To learn more about Moding’s research, visit the Moding Lab.