Devoting her career to the understanding and treatment of gynecological cancers, Dr. Laurel W. Rice personifies the University of Virginia Cancer Center mission of "changing the future of cancer." Director of the University of Virginia's Division of Gynecologic Oncology and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Rice balances a broad range of professional responsibilities, including patient care, teaching, research, and the organization and administration of clinical trials.
After receiving her doctor of medicine degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1983, Dr. Rice, a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society, moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she served as clinical fellow in obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School. She completed her internship and residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Rice remained at Harvard as an instructor and assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive biology while continuing at Brigham and Women's for her a fellowship in gynecologic oncology.
During this time Dr. Rice also served as assistant in gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she received the 1991 Resident Teaching Award in Gynecology. In 1993, Dr. Rice moved to Charlottesville to become an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia. In 1997 she was granted tenure and named director of the Division of Ggynecologic Oncology. In 2001 Dr. Rice was named vice-chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship director for gynecologic oncology. In 1995 she received the School of Medicine Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Dr. Rice's expertise lies in endometrial carcinoma, or cancers of the lining of the uterus, the most common gynecological cancer in the United States and the fourth most common of all cancers in women. Her research focuses on the role of estrogen receptors on the lining of the uterus, the place where estrogen attaches itself to endometrial cells. When it does so, it sends a message for the cell to reproduce. This primary role of estrogen in the promotion of normal cell proliferation in the lining of the uterus occurs monthly, in the menstrual cycle. However, in certain cases, estrogen can promote the growth of malignant cells. Focusing her studies on the estrogen receptors of cells, Dr. Rice's research pinpoints the "on/off" switch of endometrial carcinoma.
Dr. Rice has served on the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology as an oral examiner for doctors taking their board exams in gynecological oncology since 1996. Active in the Gynecologic Oncology Society since 1994, in 2000 Dr. Rice served as the president of the Society's Mid-Atlantic Region. Sought after as a dynamic speaker, Dr. Rice has led close to a hundred seminars and lectures throughout North America. She serves on the editorial board or as reviewer for Gynecologic Oncology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and her research can be found in these and other national medical journals.