Inspiring Lyrics Help Fight Childhood Cancer
"I’ve benefited greatly from my experiences within ASH, on committees and working groups as a member, and later as a leader. I’ve learned that the strength of our voices comes from the diversity of our experiences, and that different situations may require slightly modified leadership styles."
Dr. Rayne Rouce is not your “classic” physician. Her patients and their families are glad that’s the case.
When Dr. Rouce is with a patient, it is easy to see why so many describe her as a ‘born leader’. A Texan proud of her southern roots, she has always strived to provide a voice for those who could not speak up for themselves. “I’ve wanted to be some sort of health professional for as long as I can remember. My earliest goals were to solve problems and be a voice for those who could not speak for themselves,” she says. Along the way Dr. Rouce realized that becoming a pediatrician allowed her to do both. She attended Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically black college and university (HBCU) that holds the long-standing record for successfully matriculating Black aspiring physicians to medical school.
She later returned to Texas for medical school, and during her second year of her pediatric residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, found her life and plans completely disrupted when Hurricane Ike demolished the hospital where she was training. At that point she was destined to become a general pediatrician not heavily involved with research…until she began a 2-month rotation at Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston, and the experience completely changed her outlook: “I realized that a career in hematology held everything I was looking for: the ability to help the most vulnerable and take care of kids (and their families) for extended periods of time while guiding them through the biggest challenge of their lives. The possibility of becoming an expert in research that contributes to improving patient outcomes was enough to feed my ‘multitasking to the extreme’ personality,” she explains.
Dr. Rouce first connected with ASH through the Harold Amos AMFDP Scholar Award. Being afforded protected time and grant funding to support her research endeavors played a pivotal role in her career and success. “I am not sure if I would be where I am today without this program, and the relationships I continue to cultivate and benefit from today (with ASH members and staff) are some of my most cherished.” A multi-talented physician, who leads several first-in-human clinical trials of CAR T and other cell therapies, Dr. Rouce is known to leverage her love for rap and hip hop to communicate everything from science to empowerment. Her lyrics teach and inspire many and pay forward her own experiences being mentored by leaders who truly contributed to her professional and personal achievements: “I’ve benefited greatly by my experiences within ASH, on committees and working groups as a member, and later as a leader. I’ve learned that the strength of our voices comes from the diversity of our experiences, and that different situations may require slightly modified leadership styles,” says Dr. Rouce.
As a pediatric hematologist-oncologist and physician scientist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Rouce understands that representation extends far beyond race and ethnicity. Although she still remembers the first time she met a black female doctor, a doctor with a southern accent, and a researcher who listened to the same type of music she did; she longs for the day when specific task forces to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in medicine and science are no longer needed, and everyone feels like they belong in every room they enter.
ASH remains committed to building and nurturing a global hematology community and workforce inclusive of diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences. Learn more.