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Hagop Kantarjian wins national award

Hailed for lifelong dedication to leukemia research, patient care


By Scott Merville

 Hagop Kantarjian, M.D.

Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., professor and chair of Leukemia, has received a lifetime achievement award for his dedication to research and clinical practice from Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. in New York.

Kantarjian leads the nation’s largest leukemia practice, known for its extensive participation and leadership in developing new treatments through research and clinical trials.  

“Dr. Kantarjian has helped vastly improve survival and quality of life for leukemia patients everywhere. This award is recognition of his deep impact in the field,” says Thomas Buchholz, M.D., executive vice president and physician-in-chief.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive this award, which recognizes the excellence of our leukemia faculty,” says Kantarjian, noting that his mentor, Emil J. Freireich, M.D., a professor in Academic Affairs, won the lifetime achievement award in 2009.

Kantarjian kudos

Kantarjian has developed a number of treatments, including chemotherapy combinations and the single agent clofarabine for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL); the hypomethylating agent decitabine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for myelodysplastic syndromes in 2006; liposomal vincristine, FDA-approved in 2012 for ALL; and ruxolitinib, approved for myelofibrosis in 2011.

He also championed multiple targeted therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), including imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib, ponatinib, bosutinib and omacetaxine, all of which received FDA approvals between 2001 and 2012. He’s currently developing monoclonal antibodies in adult ALL.

On the MD Anderson faculty since 1983, Kantarjian holds the Kelcie Margaret Kana Research Chair and is associate vice president of Global Academic Programs. He was recently appointed as the Baker Institute Scholar in Health Policy.

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