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M. D. Anderson Announces Collaboration with the American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine and Cancer Center


The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon - a premier clinical, research and educational center in the Middle East - recently signed a formal agreement to expand opportunities for collaboration. Based on a mutual commitment to research-driven patient care in a setting of academic excellence, the partnership will enhance their shared missions of cancer prevention, education, research and patient care in the United States, the Middle East and around the world.

John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Nadim Cortas, M.D., dean of the AUB Medical Center, led the signing ceremony in Houston during M. D. Anderson’s third annual Sister Institution Conference (June 5-8), which brought together more than 300 participants from 20 countries.

“For many years, faculty at M. D. Anderson have benefited from a close working relationship with internationally renowned colleagues at the American University of Beirut,” said Mendelsohn. “It is a privilege to secure our relationship with a formal agreement and advance our shared vision of reducing the global burden of cancer.”

The history of the American University of Beirut’s Medical Center began with the establishment of the School of Medicine in 1867. Built in 1902 and expanded in 1970, the Medical Center today - a 420-bed hospital - provides a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art health services to the people of Lebanon and the region, including surgical, pediatric, obstetrics/gynecological and psychiatric capabilities. In 2005, 1,233 new cancer patients were seen, treated and/or diagnosed at the facility, which was among the first medical centers outside the United States to acquire full accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of HealthCare Organizations (JCAHO).

The relationship between the two institutions developed, in part, from the efforts of several AUB alumni who hold leadership positions at M. D. Anderson, including: Dr. Hagop Kantarjian, chair of the Department of Leukemia; Dr. Issam Raad, chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases; Dr. Raymond Sawaya, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery; Dr. Ray Hachem, assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Nizar Tannir, assistant professor in the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology. These faculty champions already have facilitated a share-and-learn strategy between the institutions through a basic and translational oncologic research fellowship program at M. D. Anderson, which has trained more than 50 junior faculty and fellows from AUBMC and other facilities in Lebanon.

“Through our work with M. D. Anderson, we are advancing our commitment to scientific research and medical discoveries that will positively impact the people of Lebanon and neighboring countries who now or might one day experience cancer,” said Cortas. “We are proud to be part of such a meaningful collaboration.”

According to the Lebanon National Cancer Registry, breast cancer accounts for 31% of cancer incidence among women, with lung cancer the second highest, affecting 12% of female cancer patients. Prostate, lung and colon cancers are the most prevalent cancers in men, occurring at 33, 13 and 10% respectively.

At the outset, the collaboration will focus on increasing training and education opportunities for medical residents and fellows in leukemia, radiation oncology, neuro-oncology and infectious diseases. The institutions also will work to implement, at AUBMC, the multidisciplinary research-driven patient care model practiced at M. D. Anderson in leukemia and stem cell transplantation. This includes the standardization of guidelines, protocols and procedures in basic, translational and clinical research, as well as patient care. Special attention will be directed to breast cancer and the health of women in the Middle East, which M. D. Anderson committed to as a key member the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.

Conference explores range of patient care and research issues
The third annual Sister Institution Conference at M. D. Anderson took place June 5 - 8, 2007, immediately following the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago. Its primary objective is to strengthen M. D. Anderson’s network of institutions and affiliates by facilitating interactions and collaborations focusing on patient care, research, prevention and education. Special emphasis was paid to a new topic: establishing international clinical trials.

Participating in morning plenary sessions and afternoon working groups, cancer researchers showcased ongoing academic and research projects, and continue to explore future collaborations. Specific initiatives for discussion included partnerships in prevention, research and treatment of cancers of the head and neck, blood, breast, stomach, colon, bladder, prostate and lungs.

More than 300 international participants from 20 countries attended the third annual Sister Institution Conference, representing medical institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.


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