Hagop M. Kantarjian, MD, has built the nation’s largest clinical leukemia practice, in part to ensure that leukemia studies are completed efficiently and in a timely manner. This helped him become one of the most productive clinical translational cancer researchers of all time.
“My clinic is my research laboratory, and nearly every patient is participating in a study,” he said. “The goal is to give patients something better than current standards of care and then, when the regimens we devise become standards of care, to look for regimens that are even better.”
This attitude has revolutionized the treatment of many types of leukemia, extending the lives not only of many thousands who have come to the leukemia program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, but also of millions who have received care elsewhere.
Kantarjian spent decades developing the new research protocols that transformed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) from a death sentence to a manageable condition. He helped create the hyper-cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, and dexamethasone (hyper-CVAD) regimen for treating acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in adults. He found lifesaving uses for drugs that had been abandoned, important medications such as clofarabine (Clolar) and decitabine (Dacogen). He pioneered the use of epigenetic therapy in leukemia.
In all, Kantarjian has authored or coauthored more than 1200 peer-reviewed articles, many of them describing breakthrough studies that rank among the most important in the history of leukemia research.

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