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Raffit Hassan, M.D.

Dr. Raffit Hassan is an oncologist who is well-respected for his dedication to cancer research and particularly for his research into novel treatments for mesothelioma. He is currently a tenured senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Hassan has said that he enjoys working for the government institution and being able to devote time and resources to studying a rare disease like mesothelioma. He currently runs clinical trials investigating vaccines and immunotherapy treatments for this aggressive and rare cancer.

Education and Early Career

Dr. Hassan’s career in medicine began in his home country of India where he attended medical school at the University of Kashmir, graduating in 1988. He came to the U.S. to complete internship and residency programs at the University of Buffalo’s Sisters Hospital. He then completed an oncology medicine fellowship at the NCI. From there he went to the University of Oklahoma in 1998, serving as a member of the medical faculty. In 2002 Dr. Hassan returned to the NCI to work as an oncology investigator on the tenured track and achieved tenure in 2008.

Career at the National Cancer Institute

Dr. Hassan began his early career in oncology at the NCI, and after a brief tenure at the University of Oklahoma, returned there to work as a medical investigator. NCI investigators focus on research into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of cancers and also conduct and run clinical trials that test the safety and effectiveness of the latest treatments.

The NCI is operated as a part of the National Institute of Health and Dr. Hassan has stated that he appreciates working there because of the ability to focus on a rare disease like mesothelioma and to have the funding to do so effectively. In academic and other institutions researchers either lack funding or are required to work on more common diseases. Dr. Hassan appreciates having everything he needs in one place to do the difficult job of unraveling the mystery of mesothelioma. He feels he can make an important difference by working on this kind of cancer because he provides answers and solutions for medical centers and doctors around the country trying to treat mesothelioma patients.

Research Interests and Clinical Trials

Dr. Hassan has worked on several research projects and clinical trials and has published and co-authored numerous papers during his NCI tenure. The focus of his research is the development of targeted immunotherapy treatments for mesothelioma patients and for patients with other types of cancer. Some of his early research included work on mesothelin, an antigen often seen in patients with mesothelioma and that is a target for therapy. His work has led to new therapies that target this antigen that are currently being used to treat patients. Some of the therapeutic agents he developed include SS1P, an anti-mesothelin toxin, Amatuximab, a monoclonal antibody against mesothelin, and a mesothelin vaccine, called CRS-207.

The work Dr. Hassan has done in the NCI laboratories has led to clinical trials that actually help patients with mesothelioma. His trials have included tests of SS1P, which he is now working to make even more effective. Dr. Hassan currently has several clinical trials in place that are either recruiting patients or are set to recruit them soon. NCI clinical trials are open to people who meet the conditions and can be a great way for mesothelioma patients to get cutting edge treatments not available elsewhere.

Honors and Awards

As a devoted researcher striving to find answers to the mysteries of a rare cancer, Dr. Hassan has chosen a unique career path in medicine. His dedication to research has earned him the respect of his peers and official honors. These include the American Society of Clinical Oncology Career Development Award, the Mesothelioma Foundation’s Pioneer Award, and the Patient Oriented Research Career Development Award from the National Institute of Health.

Dr. Hassan is a unique kind of oncologist, in that he actively does research to advance knowledge of mesothelioma, and also works with patients during clinical trials. If you have mesothelioma, you can contact the NCI to find out if you are eligible for any of Dr. Hassan’s ongoing trials. This can be a great chance to get to work with an expert in the field and to take advantage of emerging treatments.

Page edited by Dave Foster

Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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