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Profile: Dianne M. Runk, M.D.

By France Griggs Sloat

Dianne M. Runk, M.D.
Bachelor of Science in chemistry, 1989 | General surgeon, breast cancer specialist; Cincinnati

Visionary |Runk told her parents when she was in fifth grade she wanted to go to medical school.

Nova Knowledge | “My pediatrician was a great guy and it seemed like an interesting field. And I loved to watch the ‘Nova’ series and ‘Body Human.’ I was so interested and so intrigued. I knew I would prefer to do medicine more than anything else.”

Footsteps | Runk followed her father, Fred, to Xavier, thinking she’d only stay a year before moving on. But she joined the tennis team and played—and stayed—for four years.

Good Chemistry | Runk majored in chemistry figuring if she did not make it into med school she’d have something science-related to fall back on. But she easily got into the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and earned her M.D. in 1993.

Resident | After completing residencies at UC and in Philadelphia, she returned to Cincinnati to be near her family and to take a job at an all-female medical group, Donna Stahl & Associates, that specializes in treating diseases of the breast.

Team Med | “We’re an all-female surgical practice, which is fairly unusual. We are dealing with all female patients because we found that over time, many women were more comfortable with a female physician for dealing with these problems.”

Serious Medicine | Runk and her colleagues treat patients with breast lumps, abnormal mammograms, cancer diagnoses and the surgeries—biopsies and lumpectomies to full mastectomies—that are part of a patient’s overall treatment.

Single Life | Because she’s not married and doesn’t have children, Runk is able to dedicate all her time to her career. She typically puts in 12-hour days at the clinic plus additional time at home. She breaks up the routine with workouts at the gym, running, reading and spending time with her family, including her 22-month-old niece, whom she sees at least once a week.

Cutting Edge | Runk was the first surgeon in Cincinnati to use a new device called a Mammosite catheter, which is able to deliver doses of radiation directly to the cancer site, reducing the number of days a patient must undergo radiation therapy. The device is now used nationwide.

Passionate | “I love what I do. I love the ability to help treat these women and find the disease early and actually save their lives. You do have to separate yourself from it, step back and realize you’re doing everything you possibly can for this person, and every once in a while, you go home at night and have a good cry. When I was young, I watched two close family friends die from the disease, but they received wonderful care, and I realized I could be one of those physicians who provide that kind of care.”

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