New Phase 1 clinical trial leader at Karmanos

DETROIT–The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute welcomes Wasif Saif, M.D., as the new leader of the Phase 1 Clinical Trials Multidisciplinary Team and co-leader of the Gastrointestinal (GI) and Neuroendocrine Oncology Multidisciplinary Team (MDT).

Dr. Saif is a world-renowned hematologist and oncologist specializing in GI cancers, experimental therapeutics and pharmacogenetics. He joined Karmanos on March 1, 2024.

“Karmanos Cancer Institute is a trailblazer in cancer research and has been a major contributor to significant strides in new drug and therapy development,” said Dr. Saif. “I am most excited about continuing translational research at this NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center with access to a diverse cancer population. This cancer center’s rich data from clinical trials, studies, and investigations largely shapes the understanding of cancer and treatment for multiple populations. The avenues the physicians, scientists, and researchers have open to them are endless, and I am honored to be part of this significant work in Detroit.”

Dr. Saif has an extensive background in translational research and developing and managing clinical trials. As the Phase 1 Clinical Trials MDT leader, he will lead a team of physician co-investigators, non-physician providers, clinical personnel, and clinical trials office staff to oversee Phase 1 solid tumor investigations. Karmanos’ Phase 1 team oversees over 70 clinical trials at various stages of the protocol lifecycle. Members of this MDT include medical oncologists specializing in many different cancers, who research, study, and develop therapies, bringing them from lab to bedside. Having a Phase 1 team in Detroit gives cancer patients access to promising new treatments not offered elsewhere.

Dr. Saif will also work alongside Najeeb Al Hallak, M.D., medical oncologist, in leading the GI and Neuroendocrine Oncology MDT, a team made up of cardiothoracic surgeons, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, hematologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists that dedicate their research and treatment to GI and neuroendocrine cancers. He specializes in treating anal, biliary, colon, carcinoid, esophagus, GIST, liver, pancreas, rectum, and stomach cancers. His research interests include anticancer drug development with an emphasis on analysis of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, biomarker discovery, pharmacogenetics, epidemiology and disparity studies in GI cancers, and developing complementary and alternative medicines to treat cancer.

“Dr. Saif’s philosophy and leadership in novel therapeutics fits our vision of continuing to grow our Phase 1 Clinical Trials Program at Karmanos. His research interests in GI cancers will complement our GI team. I am confident we will see more breakthrough discoveries from these MDTs with Dr. Saif’s leadership and vision,” said Boris Pasche, M.D. president and CEO at Karmanos.

In addition to his leadership roles, Dr. Saif sees patients at Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit. He is also a professor in the Department of Oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Before joining Karmanos, Dr. Saif served on the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., Columbia University in New York City, and Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass. He has served as the leader of the GI oncology division at Yale, Columbia, and Tufts and as the program leader in experimental therapeutics at Tufts. He has also served in executive roles at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.and Orlando Health. Dr. Saif is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), Carcinoid Foundation, and American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). He has served as the principal investigator on over 75 clinical trials and has published over 650 scientific papers in addition to textbook chapters, abstracts, and proceedings of meetings.

Dr. Saif earned his medical degree from King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, Conn. He completed medical oncology and hematology fellowships at the National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, and National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

 

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