Joseph Paul Eder, MD still remembers the night his brother was rushed to the hospital after a very serious car accident. After seeing how the trauma surgeon saved his brother’s life, he thought, “I want to be able to make an actual difference like this in peoples’ lives every day.”
Now a medical oncologist at Yale Medicine, Dr. Eder treats cancer patients and explores new treatment options for the disease. As clinical director of the Early Drug Development program, he conducts clinical trials for targeted immunotherapies and targeted molecular therapies, treatments that are personalized to each individual’s immune system, rather than to their type of cancer. The goal is to trigger a patient’s own immune system to fight off the disease, often with fewer and less severe side effects that traditional chemotherapy treatments often bring.
As a clinician, Dr. Eder hopes to provide comfort and guidance to his patients during an extremely stressful and uncertain time in their lives. “Some of my patients will ask me questions like, ‘How do I go about living with this?’ It’s an incredible honor to be trusted with such an important and personal question,” he says. “I try to understand them well enough to provide some kind of guidance.” But, he says, caring about these patients comes naturally. “Cancer patients are the kindest people,” he says. “They’re grateful for the smallest things. It’s easy to be kind to kind people.”
Dr. Eder also teaches medical oncology at the Yale School of Medicine.