Our Stories

Storytelling is what connects and brings us together. So let’s celebrate, inspire and empower each other by sharing our stories.

Bridget Keenan, MD, PhD

 Assistant Professor, Cancer Immunotherapy Program

 Here is what Bridget's nominator had to say about her:

 "Dr. Keenan is a senior medical oncology fellow at UCSF. She is an outstanding physician scientist and immunologist by training, focused on tumor immunology in hepatobiliary malignancies. Her clinical practice is at UCSF Cancer Immunotherapy Program focusing on the advancement of immunotherapy based clinical trials. In addition, Dr. Keenan is a leader on gender equity. During her time at UCSF she was instrumental to the development and success of the Internal Medicine residency Women in Leadership Development (WiLD) Committee and is a co-founder of the UCSF-wide Women in Leadership Development (WiLD) Program."

- Ana Velazquez Manana, MD, Oncology Fellow, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Bridget's Bio:

Bridget is a physician scientist, pursuing a dual career in oncology and translational cancer research. During the early years of her research career, she trained in laboratories at the University of Maryland and the National Institutes of Health. Bridget then entered the MD-PhD program at Johns Hopkins and obtained her PhD in Immunology in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, studying pancreatic cancer vaccines. Bridget came to UCSF as an internal medicine resident; in fact, the first time she came to San Francisco was her residency interview and she immediately knew she wanted to train here. Following residency, Bridget stayed at UCSF for Hematology/Oncology fellowship. As a research-focused fellow, she worked in the lab of Dr. Larry Fong, studying mechanisms of immunotherapy response and resistance in gastrointestinal cancers. Clinically, Bridget trained in both early phase immunotherapy trials and gastrointestinal malignancies. She recently joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor with the Cancer Immunotherapy Program, where she focuses on immunotherapy clinical trials and translational research. 

What’s on your reading list?

I am an avid reader and love a good novel! A few of my favorite reads from this summer include There There, Homegoing, and Kindred.  

What advice would you give yourself early on in your career? To a woman entering your field today? 

To have a growth mindset and to not doubt yourself. There are so many things that I thought I would never understand about medicine and science; flash forward a few years, these are now some of the skills I use everyday in my work. I would tell my former self that it was not only possible, but also that I had so much potential -- and also try to give that message to mentees. 

What brought you to healthcare? Can you tell us about your professional journey?

When I was in high school, my mom was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. It was incredibly stressful time for her and for my family. So from an early age, I was motivated to become an oncologist to help patients like my mom. In college, I was exposed to basic science research which eventually inspired me to apply to MD PhD programs, but only after I was able to see how I might bridge the gap between the clinic and the lab. I was most motivated to do research that was directly connected to patients. As a graduate student, I worked on pancreatic cancer; this work was mainly using mouse models, although closely mimicked human pancreatic cancer biology. As an Oncology fellow, I moved one step closer by working on patient samples to study how immunotherapy re-shapes the immune response to cancer. 

Can you tell us about an important role model or mentor in your life?

I had several research experiences as a pre-med; these were formative in building my skills in laboratory research. However, my most influential career role model was during my graduate degree when I worked in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee. She demonstrated through her career that it was possible to be successful as a woman physician scientist, a leader in cancer research, and maintain a full life outside of work. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to be outdoors as much as possible - whether it’s running or walking at the beach, hiking, or backpacking. 

Meet other outstanding women of UCSF Health through Our Spotlight.