GHASSAN ABOU-ALFA, MD
Ghassan Abou-Alfa is an Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and Professor of Medicine at Weill Medical School at Cornell University. Professor Abou-Alfa specializes in in the treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies and in particular, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), intrahepatic and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IHC), gallbladder cancer (GB), and fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC). Professor Abou-Alfa is the immediate previous Chair of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Hepatobiliary Task Force and member of the NCI AIDS Malignancy Consortium Steering Committee. Professor Abou-Alfa is a member of the International Affairs Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and serves as member of its Steering Committee. Professor Abou-Alfa is also the President for the International Society of Gastrointestinal Oncology (ISGIO). Professor Abou-Alfa majored in biology, earned his medical degree, and now serves as a trustee on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater the American University in Beirut (AUB). Professor Abou-Alfa completed his postdoctoral training in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology at Yale University, is completing his JD from Fordham University, and already received his MBA from Columbia University. Professor Abou-Alfa’s research focuses on incorporating small biological molecules and checkpoint inhibitors into standard cancer therapies. In recent years, his group at MSK led the first efforts evaluating sorafenib in HCC, that was ultimately approved by the FDA for that indication in 2007. Professor Abou-Alfa also led his group at MSK on the efforts evaluating cabozantinib which was approved by the FDA for HCC indication in 2019. Professor Abou-Alfa has also championed key work in determining novel targeted therapies for IHC and GB, targeting IDH-1, FGR-2, and Her-2. He lately led the efforts of pemigatinib, which was approved by the FDA in 2020, for patients with IHC and FGFR-2 alterations. With his heavy involvement the use of checkpoint inhibitors in the malignancies of interest, Professor Abou-Alfa leads on a global effort to be understand the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) that would help identify the most applicable therapeutics or combination of. He also and in collaboration with Michel Sadelin and Scott Lowe focuses on determining the right CAR-T antigens for HCC and FLC, and IHC. Professor Abou-Alfa and team have also worked and were first to report on germline alterations associated with biliary tract cancers. Professor Abou-Alfa envisions the universal quest for health, embodied by physicians upholding humanistic ideals, supersedes geopolitics among the world’s people. Recognizing germline alterations as an endless opportunity to explore cancer related environmental and other genetic risk factors of varied populations and regions, Professor Abou-Alfa is co-leading with Professor Larry Norton a global effort to study humanity cancer germline convergence and divergence cancer predispositions worldwide. Professor Abou-Alfa strongly advocates for greater awareness of cancer’s global impact; and continues to lead several international educational and research efforts with different institutions worldwide. Professor Abou-Alfa spearheaded many projects worldwide including the MENA region, Africa, Southeast Asia, Eurasia, and the Americas. These efforts include several monthly video-link worldwide educational conferences led by MSK, which is now global and includes institutions from throughout the global, including add to Lebanon, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Malawi, and Brazil, with several of its proceedings are already published in peer–reviewed journals. Professor Abou-Alfa also leads regular class-training conferences offered on competitive basis worldwide in collaboration between MSK and AUB to help educate and teach about the state of the art of cancer care and learn about the germline, somatic, and environmental risk factors and treatment practices in the respective country and region. This almost two decades old collaboration, one of the most sustained between an US institution and one in the MENA region, has led to the development of the first joint tissue bank with a shared database in the region. The joint programs also offer supported post-graduate training opportunities for excelling medical graduates. Collectively, these collaborative efforts Professor Abou-Alfa develop the business model that helps enhance academic interaction and set a platform to build on partnerships among institutions. Along the same path, Professor Abou-Alfa is leading an effort along with colleagues from 23 countries in Africa to draft the Africa Guidelines for screening and treating HCC, written by African colleagues for Africa. Professor Abou-Alfa also takes on an advocacy role while research funding continue to lag despite the worldwide impact of this disease. Professor Abou-Alfa serves and served on several advisory boards including the American Liver Foundation, Fibrolamellar Carcinoma Foundation, Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, and Blue Faery Foundation, and is a regular volunteering contributor to the Binay Foundation in Nepal. He co-authored with Professor Ronald DeMatteo 100 Questions and Answers About Liver Cancer, now coming to its fourth edition, and with his dear wife and colleague Professor Eileen O’Reilly, also a medical oncologist at MSK, 100 Questions and Answers About Biliary Cancer now coming to its third edition.