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The Making of a Neuro-Oncologist

Finding your passion is not a one-stop shop. For Dr. Edina Komlodi-Pasztor, it took years of learning, collaboration, and an overwhelming determination to make a difference.

4 min read
BellRinger rider riding their bike through the finishline

Dr. Edina Komlodi-Pasztor was stumped. Her breast cancer patient was having seizures and other symptoms incongruent with their original diagnosis, and Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor was struggling to determine why. The initial MRI scans were clean, leaving her and her colleagues perplexed. Through additional investigation and an additional MRI just a few weeks later, it was revealed the patient had a large glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. This mystery was a pivotal moment for Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor, as it introduced her to the new and rapidly growing subspecialty of neuro-oncology, a field to which she now dedicates her career.

Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor’s long journey to medicine steered her to that moment. As a Hungarian native living in Budapest, she earned an MD/PhD scholarship determined to become a cardiologist. Upon moving to the United States to pursue her passion for research, she received the opportunity to work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the medical oncology branch. From there, her career aspirations took an unexpected turn.

Her early research at the NIH was challenging and at times, difficult to progress. In search of inspiration, she read various blogs and patient stories about different chemotherapeutic drugs. Reading patients’ perspectives on their treatment journeys profoundly impacted her, which in turn, led her to shift away from cardiology and towards oncology. When asked why she felt so strongly about this change, Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor shared, “every patient deserves to get married. They deserve to see their kids graduate. They deserve to live through every milestone life has to offer.” Seven years of bench work at the NIH, one additional year of translational research, and two final years of oncology clinical research solidified her commitment to oncology and her passion for treating cancer patients. She sought to specialize to provide top-notch, tailored treatments to her patients.

“Every patient deserves to get married. They deserve to see their kids graduate. They deserve to live through every milestone life has to offer.”

Dr. Edina Komlodi-Pasztor, MD, PhD

Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor dedicates herself to optimizing her patients’ treatment outcomes through collaboration with various specialists in other fields. When she is not seeing patients in her office, she commits herself to staying abreast of the latest advancements in neuro-oncology. As part of her commitment to enhancing patient outcomes, she is actively engaged in building the neuro-oncology and comprehensive brain tumor programs. Additionally, she is dedicated to educating the next generation of doctors by mentoring residents and fellows, as well as addressing national and international conferences about the latest research developments and treatment opportunities.

Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor is a BellRinger Rider. She registered to take on the 25-mile route once hearing about the Ride through her arrival at MedStar Health. She initially felt like BellRinger was her duty, but after attending a training ride and seeing the enthusiasm of Dr. George Phillips and the diverse group of participants, she quickly realized the extraordinary community associated with the Ride, and it became a new passion of hers. Joining forces with others in the neuro-oncology department and her daughter on Team Glioma be Damned, they took on BellRinger Weekend with one goal in mind: end cancer once and for all.

Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor’s work is a story of profound moments that began with a simple curiosity about medicine. These moments led her to BellRinger — a new journey to give back. For Dr. Komlodi-Pasztor, BellRinger was just one small part of her larger commitment to her patients and to the field of neuro-oncology. Driven by her desire to make a real difference in the lives of her patients, she remains focused on pushing the boundaries of what was once possible, and inspires others to do the same.

April 19, 2023

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