Dr. Darcy Flora, PhD

Chief Research Officer

Darcy Flora

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Bio

The GRYT Health head researcher, Darcy Flora doesn’t mind being published for work and working remotely, but otherwise, you won’t find her on social media like many of the other GRYT Health team members. She prefers to make a difference by quietly working hard in the background. 

Darcy is originally from Indiana but now lives in Dillon, Colorado. She loves traveling and feels that every place has its unique charms so she does not have any favorite locations. Instead, Darcy shared that for her, “home” is wherever her family is. In 2016, she fulfilled a bucket list item and climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She had a trip planned to go Nordic skiing under the Northern Lights, but the pandemic hit and that is currently on hold. Darcy enjoys active vacations where she can enjoy the outdoors. 

Darcy lives with her common-law husband and their 2 Labrador Retrievers. Since labs are high-energy dogs, they keep them busy and active enjoying the outdoors. One of the reasons that Darcy relocated to Colorado is so that she could enjoy the outdoors frequently. She lives across the street from a National Forest and she enjoys being able to walk for miles and not see another human. 

When Darcy was in college, she was a competitive runner and participated in indoor and outdoor cross country track. Running is a huge part of her life. She also does a lot of Nordic skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing. As a scientist, she also spends a lot of her time in her home laboratory – the kitchen. She loves cooking. She wishes she had the time to do coaching and more traveling as well. Learning is a lifelong pastime for her as well. 

Darcy’s closest cancer connections have been family members back in Indiana experiencing cancer. She has also had some friends who have gone through their own diagnoses. However, Darcy’s closest connection has been her parents and brother. 

While Darcy does not consider herself a caregiver, primarily due to the many miles between where she lives and where her loved ones live, her family has been greatly impacted by cancer. Her grandmother had ovarian cancer and had a hysterectomy followed by chemotherapy. During this time, Darcy was able to use her pharmaceutical background to help her grandmother and father understand the medical terminology and medications involved. Unfortunately, the progression of her grandmother’s diagnosis continued to metastasize into her lungs. Darcy was able to return home to Indiana for a memorable visit with her grandmother before she passed just after the arrival of the first great-grandchild and two days after her grandmother’s birthday.

Shortly after Darcy’s grandmother passed, her Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which her brother also had. Both men were diagnosed in their 50s, a relatively young age for the diagnosis. While Darcy wishes she knew more of the details of their journeys, she realizes that the topic is not necessarily something a father and brother would want to discuss with their daughter or sister, but she reports that both of them are cancer-free and doing well now. 

As Chief Research Officer, Darcy’s primary responsibilities involve everything with research. She is also part of our Compliance Committee and is involved in the process of ensuring Employee Benefits. Inventing ways to conduct research and keep the research team connected is an important part of her job as she orchestrates all the behind-the-scenes processes that go into each and every one of our GRYT Project studies, most often these studies revolve around the patient experience and quality of life measures. In fact, GRYT Project does not do any clinical trials. All of our projects are immersed in the patient or caregiver experience. Darcy also finds great value in breaking down the barriers in research to make them more accessible to the community by being a source of support and mentoring people trying to find their way through their cancer diagnoses. 

Darcy did her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and holds degrees in chemistry and biological chemistry. She then received her PhD in pharmacology from the University of Minnesota. Then she had an amazing opportunity presented itself to do post-doctoral work in Experimental & Clinical Pharmacology Department in the Drug Metabolism Lab within the School of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. 

The majority of Darcy’s training was in the area of being a research scientist. This is where she spent approximately the first 30 years of her professional career with a variety of academic institutions. She began working in molecular pharmacology doing a lot of benchwork with a white lab coat working with cells. Her initial work was in cardiology. She had a desire to work more directly with patients while making a more direct impact with translational research. Once she finished her PhD, she started running clinical studies while continuing to do some benchwork. Darcy found the studies she did that examined genetic interactions with medications really interesting as they related closely to some of her own health challenges. 

When she joined the GRYT Health team in 2018 after connecting with her husband’s college friend and GRYT Health co-founder, Shelley Holden, Darcy transitioned to doing the patient experience research. Darcy would follow Shelley’s blog and story on her bus commutes. Shelley and her husband, Rob, visited Darcy and her husband in early 2018 in Colorado to do some Nordic skiing together. Shelley told them about the new company she was investing in getting some pharmaceutical contracts. That company was GRYT Health. 

Shelley shared with Darcy that they had a need for someone with her expertise to run the new projects. Darcy was excited for an opportunity to work directly with patients and intrigued with the opportunity to work remotely from Colorado where she could do what she really enjoyed while living where she loved to be. Being one of the earliest employees with GRYT Health, she has really enjoyed seeing how the company has grown and changed. Darcy is excited to see the research team continue to be so successful in doing research that is making a direct impact to patients. She shared that so much of clinical research success is delayed by the processes in place for safety that she has really treasured doing the patient experience research because you can see the impacts of the work they’re doing so much more quickly. 

Darcy gets excited seeing how passionate the GRYT Health team is about helping people. She states that the GRYT Health team is truly unique. GRYT Health also gives Darcy the opportunity to continue to challenge herself. Being CRO allows her to still be immersed in the innovations of the pharmaceutical industry while doing direct problem solving with people being affected by cancer so that we can make things better in their experiences. 

As a person with a rare blood disorder, Darcy finds herself in a unique position at GRYT Health. GRYT Health is an organization that promotes people finding and using their voices to connect with others and invoke change. Yet, she has found the experience of being a person with a blood disorder extremely solo. She does not feel connected to a larger community of people with a blood disorder. Also, the blood disorder experience is extremely varied and different from the cancer experience. Blood disorders are not widely discussed and shared in the medical community. For these reasons, Darcy does not feel like she has much of a voice of her own. For now, Darcy mainly continues to be supportive of the GRYT Health community in using their voices and empowering others as a professional. 

In addition to being published in a number of clinical and industry journals, Darcy speaks at a number of career development and oncological conferences. By doing these things, she is able to amplify the voices of the patients and caregivers who participate in the studies she’s involved with to bring about awareness and change. 

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