In this issue, HCV Next asks five questions of Douglas T. Dieterich, MD, professor of medicine in the division of liver diseases and director of continuing medical education at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. He maintains a triple appointment in the divisions of liver disease, gastroenterology and infectious diseases.
Dieterich attended Yale University as an undergraduate before heading to New York University where he received his Doctorate of Medicine. For his internship and residency in internal medicine, Dieterich went to Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, where he also completed his fellowship in the division of gastroenterology. He subsequently became a clinical assistant professor of medicine and then a clinical professor of medicine at NYU. At present, Dieterich maintains an adjunct position as clinical professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine.
Dieterich has served as an investigator on a number of major trials that evaluated novel antiviral therapies for chronic hepatitis B and C, including PHOTON-1 and STARTVerso4. His research has also focused on a number of strains of hepatitis in addition to patients coinfected with HIV and those with Wilson’s disease.
Douglas T. Dieterich
A number of professional societies and organizations call Dieterich a member, including fellowships in both the American College of Physicians and American College of Gastroenterology. Dieterich has served on the AIDS Clinical Trials Group at the NIH as well as the Steering Committee of the Opportunistic Infections Core Committee and the Cytomegalovirus Committee. He was chair of the Enteric Parasites Committee, co-chair of the Protozoan Committee and a member of the NIH Study Sections for cytomegalovirus and cryptosporidiosis.
What are your hobbies outside of practicing medicine?
I like to play tennis, squash and golf. I also enjoy hot yoga. You can also find me doing a little hiking and camping from time to time.
What was the defining moment that led you to your field?
I stuck myself with a contaminated needle in 1977 while I was working in the hospital as a third-year medical student. I contracted what they then called non-A, non-B hepatitis. We didn’t know about hepatitis C virus at that time. I got very sick and had trouble completing a lot of daily and professional tasks. I continued my training, and changed my mind from pursuing ophthalmology to gastroenterology and hepatology so I could at least help someone, if not myself. Eventually, I was treated twice and finally cured in 1999. Now we have the tools to cure so many more people! I’ve also used my own personal experiences to help treat other medical students and physicians in training who have contracted HCV from a needle stick.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
That would definitely be Franco M. Muggia, MD, the chief of oncology at New York University while I was clinical assistant professor of medicine and clinical professor of medicine there. At that time, Franco took me under his wing and helped me get all of my clinical trials set up in the oncology division because no one else had the infrastructure to do them at the time.
What advice would you offer a student in medical school today?
I would say: Do what you love to do. Find a specialty in medicine that makes you happy and you will never have to work a day in your life!
What’s up next for you?
Currently, I am working hard on the merger of Mount Sinai Health System — the system combines Mount Sinai Medical Center with Continuum Health Partners’ Beth Israel Medical Centers, St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals, and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary — and trying to make sure that the liver care in all of our locations is the best in the world.