Matthew Painschab, MD

Dr. Painschab is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology.  He specializes in global oncology, focusing on implementation and cost-effectiveness with a special interest in HIV-associated malignancies and hematologic malignancies.

What brought you to UNC Medical Center?

I first moved to UNC for my fellowship training in hematology and oncology in 2016, especially for the opportunity to work with the cancer team at UNC Project Malawi.

Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town, Waverly, in rural Minnesota.

Did you always want to be a doctor?

No, in fact, through most of college I had interest in becoming a lawyer. However, I had been doing laboratory research throughout college with an MD, PhD scientist and through that experience and my college physiology course I fell in love with the ability to explain medical phenoma and the research that goes into that.

How did you choose your specialty?

During my residency training in internal medicine, I had a broad interest in internal medicine. However, through my patient interactions in inpatient cancer care, I fell in love with the challenging work of both medically treating cancer patients as well as helping guide families through an incredibly difficult and trying time in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I love the ability to connect with patients and explain their disease and treatments to them and to understand how they experience their illness. Only by understanding their understanding of their illness can we help alleviate their suffering.

What are some of the new developments in your field of specialty?

The field of oncology is a rapidly changing field with numerous new treatments across all cancer types. The investments that US taxpayers have made in investigating the basic science and treatment of cancer are providing amazing gains in the quantity and quality of life for cancer patients.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Approach your life the way a cat does. That is, with a consciousness largely of now. Learn from past mistakes but don’t dwell on them and don’t worry much about planning your future because the future is largely out of your control.

If you weren’t a physician, what would you like to be doing?

Coaching basketball.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Basketball, hiking, cleaning up hiking trails, herb gardening, and cooking.

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?

“Forget the head trip, take a foot trip.”—Gustavo Gutierrez

What was the last book you read?

“The Universal Christ”—Richard Rohr


Learn more about Dr. Painschab here.