MD Anderson’s Hagop Kantarjian wins national award for work in leukemia

MD Anderson News Release 03/14/2014

Hagop Kantarjian, M.D., professor and chair of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will receive a lifetime achievement award for his dedication to research and clinical practice from Castle & Connolly Medical Limited in New York on March 31.

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

“Dr. Kantarjian is truly a world leader in the treatment of leukemia patients and in clinical research,” said Thomas Buchholz, M.D., MD Anderson executive vice president and physician-in-chief. “Through this focus on research-driven patient care, he has helped vastly improve survival and quality of life for leukemia patients everywhere.  This award is recognition of his deep impact in the field.”

Castle & Connolly publishes Castle Connolly Top Doctors annually.  In that process, the company solicits nominations from thousands of physicians and leaders from more than 1,000 hospitals to identify physicians who have made significant, cutting-edge contributions to their areas of medicine.  The two physicians recognized annually for lifetime achievement have attained international recognition for the body of their lifetime contributions to medicine and health at the broadest levels, the company announced.

“I’m greatly honored and truly humbled to receive this award, which also recognizes the excellence of our Leukemia faculty in patient care and research,” Kantarjian said.  He noted that his mentor, Emil J Freireich, M.D., a pioneer in the development of drug combinations against cancer and currently professor in Academic Affairs at MD Anderson, won the lifetime achievement award in 2009.

Kantarjian has developed and demonstrated the effectiveness of a number of major 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 for myelodysplastic syndrome in 2006; liposomal vincristine, approved by the FDA in 2012 for ALL; and ruxolitinib, approved for myelofibrosis in 2011.

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

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

Kantarjian has authored or co-authored more than 1,200 peer-reviewed publications and is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He received the first Emil J Freireich Award for Outstanding Clinical Research at MD Anderson in 1997, the Joeffrey Gottlieb Memorial Award in 2012, and the American Association for Cancer Research Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research in 2013.

He also serves on the board of directors of the 35,000-member American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer, and is a member of ASCO’s Cancer Education Committee.