Massey physician-researcher studies the complexities of cancer treatment to determine more effective methods of care
Alan Dow, M.D., studies the complexities of comprehensive cancer treatment to determine how to more effectively provide care for patients who require the expertise of a wide range of medical professionals.
He joined VCU Massey Cancer Center as a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program in March 2017, acts as the director and assistant vice president of health sciences at the VCU Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care and is a professor of internal medicine at the VCU School of Medicine.
Dow, a general internist, analyzes clinical practices and outcomes in an effort to improve care, teamwork and communication across the entire medical spectrum of a patient’s cancer treatment process.
In collaboration with Khalid Matin, M.D, medical oncologist and member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey as well as medical director of Massey’s Clinical Research Affiliation Network, Dow recently published a study of 100 colorectal patients that found the average patient had 117 care providers involved in their first two months of treatment following a cancer diagnosis, including radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurses, pharmacists, etc.
“We have such a complex system – and we need that complex system – but collaborating across all that complexity is challenging,” Dow said. “That’s the big question I’m working on: How do we provide patient care more effectively across all disciplines for the best possible outcome?”
Dow was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and lived there until he was 14 years old before moving to Delaware.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from the University of Virginia and attended medical school at the Washington University School of Medicine. In 2000, he began his residency for internal medicine at VCU Medical Center, completed a master’s degree in health administration in 2005 and has remained with VCU ever since.
“At VCU and Massey, I’m really proud of how we leverage our expertise and educational efforts to make sure that we’re trying to create a healthier society. I think we’re much better about being engaged in our community than many other institutions,” Dow said.
Dow has received a number of prestigious awards including a Young Internist of the Year Award from the American College of Physicians (ACP) in 2016, the Educational Innovation Research Award from the VCU School of Medicine in 2015 and the Governor’s Award for Service from the ACP Governor’s Council in 2015.
He provides inpatient care at VCU Medical Center to general medicine patients and also sees uninsured patients with chronic health conditions at a free clinic in the Richmond area.
Dow lives in the West End with his wife, Tara Casey, and two children, and he finds Richmond’s history with the James River fascinating.
"I think a river has such a potential to unify a city, and I love that there are parks and trails along the James River,” Dow said. “I think Richmond is just a really neat city culturally – lots of great food, great beer, decent music. There’s always interesting things to do.”
Dow enjoys live music (most recently having seen Lake Street Dive and The Avett Brothers), college sports (both UVA and VCU) and Gelati Celesti.