SGU Grad Fosters Hope Through Curative Cancer Treatments

Treating and giving hope to the untreatable—they’re the reasons that Eric Tam, MD ’13, went into medicine in the first place, and what drive him to search for more positive results each day. After completing a bone marrow and transplant fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine, the St. George’s University graduate has just been appointed an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine.

While there, Dr. Tam will specialize in malignant hematology and allogeneic bone marrow transplant, as well as be involved in direct patient care across three institutions: Keck Hospital of USC, Norris Cancer Center of USC, and LAC+USC Medical Center.

“I have always wanted to be a doctor, particularly an oncologist,” said Dr. Tam. “In addition to having a strong personal interest in malignancies, I chose hematology/oncology because of the vast advances in science and improvements in treatment. Specializing in bone marrow transplant has allowed me to be able to provide curative treatments for otherwise generally incurable malignancies.”

“My experience at St. George’s was much more than I could have expected. I loved the island, the people of Grenada, and it was especially insightful to see clinical medicine in its truest form.”

Eric Tam, MD ’13

For Dr. Tam, California has always been home. He grew up in Danville, CA, about a half hour east of San Francisco, before moving to Southern California, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at UCLA. His biggest move, however, was to Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean that provided him with a very big opportunity—the chance to attend medical school at SGU.

“I chose to apply to SGU because it offered a strong curriculum and had very promising residency placements,” stated Dr. Tam. “My experience at St. George’s was much more than I could have expected. I loved the island, the people of Grenada, and it was especially insightful to see clinical medicine in its truest form.”

Currently, with the effects of COVID-19 still rippling throughout the nation, Dr. Tam has had limited contact with the virus, but acknowledges its repercussions and impact on the healthcare system and his colleagues in the medical community. Proud of their contributions on the front lines, he continues to advocate for their safety and the resources that they require.

“Most of my patients are already severely immunosuppressed, and already take appropriate precautions against infections even prior to the spread of the virus,” Dr. Tam said. “Personally, my family and I have had to adjust our lifestyles, and follow the necessary safety protocols just like the rest of the population.”

Today, Dr. Tam resides back in his home state where he’s married to a very supportive wife who is an attorney, and helps to raise their two toddlers together. As for the future, he remains true to his mission of fostering hope where it is lacking, currently working on the next generation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) therapy to hopefully improve outcomes of many patients with hematologic malignancies.

– Ray-Donna Peters