The Road Jess Traveled

A farewell/thank you to foundational GCI team member Jessica St. Louis

July 18, 2017 / in Behind the Scenes / by Phoebe Howe

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one Jess traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Goodbye and good luck to Jessica St. Louis! Without her innovative ideas and steadfast determination, GCI would not be as incredible and successful as it is today. Read our interview with her below:

What was your job at GCI? Which big GCI moments did you participate in/play a role in?

“I was a Program Manager at GCI, along with Allie Bukowski.  I managed our Global Tumor Boards, Fellowship and Scholarship Programs, and our Research Publications and Abstracts. I also led the design and distribution of our Clinical Care Surveys to investigate patterns of practice of doctors in the US, Canada, Europe and Latin America. On the side, I helped the program with anything else that came our way, such as grant applications, research presentations, and technology issues!”

What was your high moment/low moment (or, biggest success/biggest obstacle) during your GCI experience?

“I have been with GCI for over 5 years, so I have watched the organization grow from just an idea, to the organization that it is today!

“Both my biggest success and biggest obstacle during my GCI experience was the revamp of our Global Tumor Boards. Global Tumor Boards are GCI’s oldest initiative and have been running since 2012. Back then, we were using an archaic videoconference platform that was expensive only allowed our team to connect to 3 hospitals at a time. As our Global Tumor Boards quickly grew in popularity, we realized that we needed to change our meeting platform so that we could scale our program to reach more doctors around the world.

“I helped our team to re-launch our Global Tumor Boards using Google Hangouts, a low cost program with the potential to connect over 10 live cameras and unlimited numbers of doctors as live stream viewers. In preparation for Global Tumor Boards 2.0, I prepared myself as much as I could to learn how to use the platform and prepare for our first pilot meeting. Unfortunately, the first Global Tumor Board meeting using this new Google platform was tricky, and did not go smoothly as I’d hoped! I had such high hopes for it, and it was so discouraging to have connection issues and audio problems that caused the meeting to fail.

“However, with more research, testing, lots of persistence (and patience!) our Global Tumor Boards evolved into what they are today! This new videoconference system completely changed the way we do tumor boards. Now, we conduct our meetings twice each month (once for breast cancer and once for gynecologic cancers) and they run smoothly. What’s more, because of the ease and accessibility of tumor boards, our family of doctors around the world grew quickly! Now, we regularly involve over 50 hospitals from 25 countries all around the world! It’s truly amazing to step back and realize that our Global Tumor Boards are improving patient care by connecting doctors to multidisciplinary cancer experts. This experience has shown me that technology has a tremendous potential to influence patient care and outcomes.  I’m also grateful to have had the opportunity to meet all of the dedicated doctors who join our meetings each month.”

What are you up to now?

“I will be starting a new position as a Project Coordinator at Harvard Medical School. I will be coordinating Harvard Medical School’s accreditation process, and assist in the establishment of new research institutes and centers affiliated with Harvard University. Furthermore, I’ll be leading a project that reviews the thousands of research initiatives being led by Harvard-affiliated doctors all across Boston.

“I am also getting ready to go back to school in 2018 to study Public Health and Medical Sciences. I’m really excited to apply my experiences with GCI in my future coursework and career!”

How will you use your experience at GCI moving forward? What does GCI mean to you?

“My experiences at GCI have exposed me to the public health side of cancer care and prevention. Public health has the potential to change the cancer outcomes for millions of people, not just the individual patient. It’s important for health systems and governments to invest in interventions which have the potential to improve access to cancer care and prevention of disease.”

Thank you so much, Jessica! Is there anything else you’d like to include?

“Just one thing: here in our GCI Boston office, we have a poster on our wall with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: ‘A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.’ Although our team in Boston is small, it’s amazing to see the impact we have made with our projects. This would not be possible without the support of our global teams! I have met so many enthusiastic and inspiring doctors, researchers, and advocates who have made a profound impact on my life. I also have made so many friends all around the world! I feel honored to have been a part of an organization with a mission that I’m passionate about.”

Thank you, Jessica, for serving as an incredible role model here at GCI! We are all rooting for you as you continue your journey!

Editor’s note: Jessica St. Louis truly took her role at GCI into her own hands and left a lasting legacy. With this in mind, the interviewer is consciously ignoring all other interpretations of Robert Frost‘s poem, choosing to solely focus on the interpretation that the poem is about free, independent thinking and following your heart! We will miss you, Jess!