Brian Boone, MD, is a cancer surgeon and scientist specializing in pancreatic cancer and other abdominal cancers. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology at West Virginia University. He has deep expertise in tumor immunology, pancreatitis, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma. He also maintains the pancreatic tissue bank at the WVU Health Sciences Center. Through his work in the operating room and research lab, he aims to help patients live longer – and more fully – despite their cancer diagnosis.
For many people with pancreatic cancer, surgery offers the best chance of survival. When Dr. Boone joined the WVU Cancer Institute in 2018, he brought important surgical skills and experience with him. He and another cancer surgeon, Carl Schmidt, MD, created West Virginia’s first robotic pancreatic surgery program.
“During my training, I cared for a lot of West Virginians who had to travel out of state for cancer surgery,” says Dr. Boone. “Today, residents can find the most advanced surgical treatments available right here at WVU Medicine. These include minimally invasive procedures that may help patients recover more quickly and with less pain.”
Dr. Boone often combines cancer surgery with new types of chemotherapy, which helps increase the odds of survival. He was the first in the state to start a program for hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) surgery – a treatment for patients whose cancer spreads to the lining of their abdomen. “We sometimes put heated chemotherapy directly into a patient’s abdomen after taking out all the tumors,” he explains. “Because it’s a concentrated dose, it does a good job of killing any leftover cancer cells. And it has fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.”
Dr. Boone is also exploring the benefits of a medicine called hydroxychloroquine. His team’s research has shown that this drug, when combined with chemotherapy and given before surgery, may reduce surgery risks like blood clots and make chemotherapy work better. “We are continuing to study the drug further through innovative clinical trials here at the Cancer Institute,” he says. “Our findings could lead to new treatment guidelines that make pancreatic cancer surgery safer and more successful.”
Although Dr. Boone loves the hands-on aspect of surgery and the promising nature of research, he says the best part of his job is working with patients. “Each patient brings their own unique and interesting experiences to the table,” he says. “Together we discuss their values, preferences, and goals when deciding on treatments. And then we face their cancer journey together.”
Dr. Boone has received several awards during his career. These include a Young Investigator Award from the American Pancreatic Association (2018) and two Best Presentation awards for research presented by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (2014, 2018).
He is a member of various professional organizations dedicated to advancing the fields of surgical oncology and cancer care. These include the Society of Surgical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.
Outside of work, Dr. Boone keeps busy with his family. He, his wife, and their four young sons raise chickens, goats, and bees on their hobby farm. They also enjoy camping, skiing, whitewater rafting, and other outdoor activities.
“West Virginia is a great place to raise a family and a great place to practice medicine,” says Dr. Boone. “It’s an honor and a privilege to help improve cancer care for people in the Mountain State.”