“I grew up wanting to be an engineer,” he says, “but soon I realized that technology is boring if you don’t interact with people.”
So he combined the best of both worlds by choosing medicine as a career.
“As a doctor I still need to know how things work and how to fix them — but in a different way,” he says.
Bugano completed medical school and an internal medicine residency in São Paulo, then entered into an oncology fellowship at the city’s Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein
— ranked the No. 1 hospital in South America by business magazine America Economia.
It was during this fellowship that Bugano’s education took a life-altering turn, thanks to a collaboration between the hospital and MD Anderson.
The two institutions had just signed a 10-year agreement in which MD Anderson would help Albert Einstein develop its oncology program into the best in South America. The agreement would provide South American patients with the same high level of care delivered at MD Anderson, while advancing the institution’s mission of ending cancer globally.
As part of the collaboration, an international fellowship was created in which physicians from Albert Einstein could travel to Houston and train at MD Anderson.
Bugano wasted no time. In July 2013, just six months into his fellowship at Albert Einstein, he flew to Houston and became the first international fellow accepted under the terms of the new agreement.
“I’ve admired and respected MD Anderson for years,” he says. “The opportunity to gain experience here is invaluable.”
Bugano is spending two years rotating through all areas of medical oncology at MD Anderson. On Fridays, he treats oncology patients in the outpatient clinic at Harris Health’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital — part of MD Anderson’s local outreach initiative to provide cancer care for the underserved. The rest of the week, he conducts clinical research and works with physicians in various MD Anderson clinics.
“All areas of academic medicine are covered in this very comprehensive fellowship,” says Bugano, who will graduate in July and return to Brazil as a Medical Oncology staff physician at Albert Einstein.
The way cancer care is delivered to patients in Brazil is being revolutionized by MD Anderson’s collaboration with Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, says Amy Hay, MD Anderson’s vice president for Global Business Development.
“For the first time in Latin America, patients have access to a multidisciplinary, multispecialty cancer center with outpatient care, advanced treatment technologies and a full range of support services all in one location,” Hay says.
This is a novel approach to cancer management in Latin America, Bugano says.
“In Brazil, all oncologists are general oncologists who treat solid tumors,” he explains. “The same doctor who treats a brain tumor may also treat a gynecologic tumor. Leukemia, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome and lymphomas are treated by hematologists.”
In 2014, the institutions expanded their collaborative relationship and Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein became the first clinical extension of MD Anderson in South America, as well as the first international associate member of the MD Anderson Cancer Network® — a select group of hospitals and health systems with access to best practices, education, research and treatment protocols developed at MD Anderson.
Through its partnership with MD Anderson, Albert Einstein is creating multidisciplinary teams of medical professionals who specialize in treating and providing support for specific cancer types. One patient may have a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, nurse, dietitian, pharmacist and others on his or her treatment team, all specifically trained to treat the patient’s type of cancer.
MD Anderson is also providing Albert Einstein with treatment algorithms (step-by-step, decision tree approaches to assessing and treating various types of cancer), order sets (prepackaged doctors’ orders detailing how to treat a specific diagnosis), faculty and staff education and training, access to clinical trials and research collaborations.