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OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Fadlo R. Khuri, hosted by Gevorg Tamamyan
May 12, 2024, 07:56

OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Fadlo R. Khuri, hosted by Gevorg Tamamyan

Join us for an exciting new episode of “OncoInfluencers”, hosted by Dr. Gevorg Tamamyan. In this episode, we have the honor of featuring Fadlo R. Khuri, who is the 16th and current president of the American University of Beirut. Dr.Khuri was also a professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and was the editor-in-chief of the medical journal Cancer.

In the interview, Fadlo R. Khuri explores his background, discussing his family, upbringing, and cultural heritage. He shares about the individuals who had an influence on his career, emphasizing the role of mentors in his journey to success. Additionally, Khuri reflects on the future of oncology, offering insights into upcoming developments and the potential impact on cancer treatment.

Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri is the president of the American University of Beirut. Prior to this role, he served as a professor and chair of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and held the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research. Additionally, he served as the deputy director for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and held the position of Executive Associate Dean for Research at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Khuri’s clinical and research interests are focused on the development of molecular, prognostic, therapeutic, and chemopreventive approaches to improve the standard of care for patients with lung and aerodigestive cancers. Specifically, his laboratory group investigates the mechanisms of action of signal transduction inhibitors in these types of cancers, focusing on selective activation of certain signaling networks.

Dr. Khuri has authored over 300 peer-reviewed articles and serves as the editor-in-chief of Cancer. He is an active member of several professional organizations including the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The host, Dr. Gevorg Tamamyan is the Editor-in-chief of OncoDaily, Head of the Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Armenia, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Hematology and Pediatric Oncology at Yerevan State Medical University, CEO of the Immune Oncology Research Institute, President-Elect of the Pediatric Oncology East and Mediterranean (POEM) Group, Chairman of the Board of the Institute of Cancer and Crisis.

Recently Dr. Tamamyan has been selected as the President-Elect for SIOP Asia 2024.

OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Fadlo R. Khuri, hosted by Gevorg Tamamyan

00:00 Introduction
1:36 Feelings about re-electing the president of AUB (American University of Beirut)
3:29 About last trip in US
5:27 Why Prof.Khuri moved from US to Lebanon?
8:03 How childhood and student years impacted the success?
10:20 About violence
12:02 About family and roots
18:06 Key of the success Prof.Khuris initiatives
21:28 Prof.Khuri describes him in one sentence
23:27 Thing that makes Prof.Khuri proud of
23:46 What is the leadership?
25:14 1 key to success
26:00 People of reason and people of vanity
27:30 Future of oncology
33:16 Top 3 books
36:05 Advice for young oncologists
37:56 Who should be next Oncoinfluencers guest?

The transcript of OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Fadlo R. Khuri, hosted by Gevorg Tamamyan

Gevorg Tamamyan: Hello everyone. Welcome back to OncoDaily. We are at the OncoInfluencers and today we are honored to host a professor Fadlo Khuri from Lebanon, the 16th president of the American University of Beirut.

Thank you very much, Doctor Khoury, for having time for us. And I’ll just briefly introduce you to our auditorium. I’m sure everyone knows you, but just a brief introduction before we start. Okay?

So, Dr. Fadlo Khoury is the 16th president of the American University of Beirut, was elected in March 2015 and assumed office in September 2015. He was a professor and chairman of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and held the Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research position there. He also served as deputy director for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Doctor Khoury was also the executive associate dean for research of the Emory University School of Medicine and the editor-in-chief of Cancer.

Doctor Who has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles in most reputable journals, and he is an active member of professional societies, including being a chair of the NIH Clinical Oncology Study Section.

Thank you again and welcome, Doctor Khoury.

Fadlo Khuri: Thank you.

Gevorg Tamamyan: So last month, the Board of Trustees of the AUB voted anonymously, to extend your presidential appointment for another five years through 2030. Congratulations, first of all. And how do you feel about it?

Fadlo Khuri: Thank you very much. I feel good about it. I tend to be someone who likes to finish the job and the job here is nowhere near finished. At Emory I felt like we finished the job in that, when I arrived, the oncology program clinically was not where it should be research wise. They had almost no multi-investigator grants. They had some r01s and we were able to help, work with an outstanding group of people to transform it.

And here I believe we are working to transform the American University into one of the leading institutions in the world with regard to the way we educate and empower tomorrow’s citizen leaders.

And by that, I mean in the world, I think the quality of our undergraduate and graduate education stands up well in comparison. I think recent days have shown that as well. Our students, place in the best institutions in the world, mostly West, but also East. And, we’re delighted to have many colleagues who are in leadership roles all over the world, including in Armenia, I believe, at the American University of Armenia.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Yeah. I mean, American University of Beirut is really not just a beautiful building. And I should confess, it’s really very, very beautiful. I was fortunate to be there once, but also, I mean, it’s very famous in the world with its outstanding alumni and students and yeah, I mean, that’s true.

And, you had also a recent trip to U.S., from your social media. I’ve seen it for 26 days. Different cities by train by plane and meeting alumni, visiting your birthplace, Boston. Right? And please, could you explore more of what you were doing there?

Fadlo Khuri: Sure. So, I actually had two trips. With that first trip that you’re talking about was the much more intensive one. It was from March 1st through 24, and we were in a dozen cities, including London, meeting alumni.

We had three alumni events, spent a week in Washington, DC, meeting with people at the NIH, at state, and Congress and the White House and otherwise to let them know what the American University of Beirut is doing to produce the moderate citizen leaders of tomorrow that we’re going to need in this polarized world, talking about the research that we’re doing, in addition to those, events, we had a board of trustees meeting, as you mentioned, and we had a visit and meetings with several different, major universities in the US, including meetings with both Harvard and Emory, and some folks at MIT as well.

So those were part of the trip. In DC, we also were able to honor an outstanding medical alumni in Naji Khoury for his extraordinary service to the community, to the AUB community. We gave him the highest volunteer award. So it was very, very busy, met with people from more than a dozen universities, at Rutgers, Columbia, etc. etc. Honored a few very prominent alumni and really reconnected with our supporters in North America in a dozen cities.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Very nice. You are a famous oncologist in the United States, and you are still, I mean, worldwide. So why did you move to Beirut? Of course. AUB is really, as we mentioned, a leading institution in the Middle East. I mean, but what was the reason for this decision? Because, I mean, from the top institution in the United States in a leading position coming to another, again, top institution, but in a developing world.

Fadlo Khuri: Sure. So it wasn’t a difficult choice. It was a choice that was more difficult to explain than it was difficult for me personally. You know, my two great grandfathers from my mother’s side were educated at the American University of Beirut, as was my mother’s father, my mother herself, my paternal grandfather, my father. All his siblings were educated at AUB, and my wife and I started at the American University of Beirut before.

But it wasn’t just a question of debt before. It’s a question of, being someone who walks the talk. I’ve always believed that there are no children of a lesser God, that the people of Lebanon, Armenia, Palestine, Iraq, Central Asia, Africa are the equals of anyone in the world.

And the most powerful vehicle that we have in the Middle East for convincing people of that and convincing them of the need to not only succeed themselves, but serve their societies is the American University of Beirut. It’s true. I was very happy and reasonably successful.

We had funding, we had projects. We had a formidable clinical and research enterprise that a top university. But when you’re given the opportunity to serve where it really matters, it’s very hard to say no. And this institution has always meant more to me than any other institution of higher education in the world. So it was a relatively easy choice to take the risk of giving up what I’d worked on for 25 years in the US, 26 years since my internship, and to come here to lead at a time when I felt needed by the American University of Beirut.

And I’ve had no regrets. My only regret at the time was that our middle child, my sons at dorm at Emory University, was a five minute walk from my dean’s office, so I unfortunately left at the end of his freshman year. I would have liked the opportunity to to be in the same town with him for his four college years, but, it didn’t work out that way.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Thank you. You were born in Boston and you grew up in Beirut. I mean, two very beautiful cities and very vibrant and really, I mean, the atmosphere is totally different than in other cities. And I mean, how was your childhood and student years, how this impacted your future success?

Fadlo Khuri: I think, you know, I find Beirut has more in common with New York than it does in Boston. Boston is a wonderful university town, but I think Beirut is more welcoming and much more diverse. Kind of like New York. Now I’m still a Boston Red Sox fan and Boston Celtics fan, for what that’s worth, because that’s where I was born.

But I think what had a tremendous impact on me is growing up in such a diverse community in Lebanon, not just people with diff diverse religious or sectarian backgrounds, but actually different ethnicities. I mean, you grow up in Beirut, you have Arabs and Armenians and Kurds and all sorts of minorities in this fantastic country. So it made me very comfortable growing up with people who had some diversity compared to me.

And in the US, where I lived in Connecticut from age 5 to 7, my first three friends were an African American boy, an Irish American boy, and a Jewish American boy. So e weren’t mixed boys and girls. At age five and six we were just boys. So at that point, it really shows you that you can have a lot in common with people who may have a different skin tone or a different religion, or a different perspective or a different upbringing.

And it convinced me and this continued in Lebanon that we have so much more in common than, than we have, things that divide us. And there’s absolutely no need to use violence to resolve any conflict. So I grew up deeply convinced of the concept of nonviolence and of the brotherhood and sisterhood of women and men.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Very beautifully said. I really hope that, I mean, what you say would resonate with a lot of politicians. And that’s the reality we want to see. But unfortunately, nowadays we see more and more violence all over the world.

Fadlo Khuri: So unfortunately, we live in an era of polarization, and we live in an era of the populist politician people who take the easy way out and they say, I’m different than these people, and you and I are different than these people, so we should be careful with them. I don’t ascribe to that. And I don’t want to say it’s easy to teach the other path.

Of course, the easy path is to say, well, those of us who have this much in common, we should close our doors to others. But that’s never worked historically. And I think the evidence is that the more that you teach the nonviolent, the inclusive approach, the more effective your students and your community will be, and the more successful.

And their studies in the US, which is undergoing a moment where there’s a strong anti-immigrant movement that showed that cities with large percentages of recent immigrants actually have an economic advantage and actually have less violence. So, counterintuitively, to what people are saying, America’s secret sauce is immigration. And many countries in the world benefit dramatically from immigration and the infusion of new blood and different perspectives.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Yeah. Can you tell a bit more about your family and about your roots? You told a bit about your connections with deep connections with AUB, but like, who are your parents?

Fadlo Khuri: So both of my parents grew up in Ras Beirut. My father’s father is from Aley, which is in Mount Lebanon. His mother is from Damascus. She’s a Damascene. She’s Syrian. My mother’s father is originally from the north of the country. Although he moved, he grew up in Beirut. His father came from the north, from Koura and Akkar and her mother was actually born in Manchester. And she’s from a family whose roots are in Marjayoun, which is in the south, on the border with Israel.

But my maternal grandmother grew up speaking English. her father had graduated from the American University of Beirut and moved to Manchester when he was penniless and created a textile industry, was at 1.1 of the great industrialists of Manchester. And when he noticed that his Arab kids were not, even though they were Protestant, were not welcomed to the same degree he had hoped at the English schools. He created schools for immigrants in Manchester, so they could go there.

So I think most of our roots are from the greater Lebanon region. Even we even believe that our Syrian roots maybe, originally from Zahle and the Bekaa. So hard to tell, but, that’s where our roots are.

My parents, where my father was a physician scientist. He was a physiologist. He was chair of the Department of physiology at the American University of Beirut. And then the first Arab dean at the age of 43, was dean for almost nine years. My mother was a mathematician. She got her bachelor’s at AUB, her master’s at Harvard or PhD at Yale. And she was a tenure track faculty at two universities. So tenured faculty, I should say.

So I have a mathematics and medical background.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Why did you choose oncology then?

Fadlo Khuri: You know, when I was an undergraduate at AUB and then at Yale, I thought I would go into a field where the dominant science that was most appealing to me, which was not physiology or anatomy, but molecular biology, could make the biggest impact. And I wound up narrowing it down to psychiatry and oncology cancer research.

But by the third year of medical school, when I was very open, I thought I wanted to be a psychiatrist. The best role models were oncologists. Even though at the time 1987-88, we had very little in the way of effective treatments for adults, I felt they were very scientifically oriented, they were evidence based, and they were extraordinarily compassionate, understanding the limited armamentarium against cancer that we had at the time yet. Treatments for hematologic diseases, but fairly mediocre treatments for, other than breast cancer, for solid tumors.

I went into my specific area because I became interested in retinoids. My wife, then girlfriend, now wife did her PhD in retinoid biology at Columbia. And my big dream was that one day we would share a lab and the retinoids, the greatest work in retinoids clinically in oncology was being done by Wong Chi Hong at MD Anderson in head and neck and then lung cancer. And that’s how I wound up working with Ki hong and specializing in head and neck and lung cancer during my fellowship.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Yeah you do. You worked also at some point at MD Anderson for several years, right?

Fadlo Khuri: Yeah, I worked with Hong at MD Anderson. That’s why I left my fellowship at Tufts-new England Medical Center, and I had other seemingly better offers, you know, assistant professor clinical track. But I went to MD Anderson because they offered me the opportunity. One year contract, instructor contract, make good. If you get grants, if you get papers, you can be on the tenure track and you can develop your research.

And it was always my intention at that time to develop my research from a clinical translational perspective. So a laboratory that really helped translate what we were seeing in the clinic, that’s what we did. I got my first American Cancer Society Career Development Award that allowed me to buy back some of my time. Instead of three clinics a week with 25 to 30 patients a day, I had two clinics a week, some time for laboratory and clinical research, and my boss and mentor, the late Wonky Hall, his biggest grant, his program, project Grant, lost funding for a year.

So he recruited me to make sure that recruitment to the clinical trials, which was the Achilles heel, picked up. We got it funded. We wound up publishing that paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. It was a negative but very important trial that showed that low dose retinoic acid was not effective in preventing second primary head and neck cancers, that really the most effective thing is smoking cessation.

So that was the start of my career there. I accumulated more grants, had a number of clinical trials, and then I moved to Emory. And there I had to reinvent myself from being a preeminent clinical trialist to more of a laboratory based, collaborative program leader, looking at more fundamental issues in collaboration with some great scientists that I had the opportunity to work with there.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Yeah, wonderful. And reading your bio it says, Doctor Khuri led the recruitment of over 90 faculty, including 60 clinical investigators, to Emory University, helping oversee an increase in adult cancer patients placed on trial annually from 143 in 2022 to over 650 in 2014, and paving the way for NCI designation for the Winship. What was the key to this success?

Fadlo Khuri: I think the key to the success was having a disciplined and straightforward approach of high quality clinical trials, not tolerating anything other than high quality, and recruiting outstanding people to run those clinical trials and to bring new trials in. So when I arrived, the Winship had real problems with clinical trial accrual 143 adult patients is quite low.

We had quite a bit of turbulence there, but one of the things I had to do is to close 64 clinical trials for poor accrual or poor data or lack of compliance, which was a very unpopular move. You can imagine I got a lot of angry emails and phone calls from the faculty. I did communicate in advance. We’re studying these trials. They had these problems. We stuck to our guns. Only four of them were ever reopened when they met the criteria.

But we brought in new trials and new investigators. We brought in outstanding people like Ruth O’Regan to run the breast program. She’s now chair of medicine at the University of Rochester Tofik Onoko to do small cell lung cancer and phase one trials. He’s now the cancer center director at the University of Maryland.

Suresh Ramalingam to run the lung cancer and phase one clinical trials. He’s now the cancer center director at Emory and so on and so forth. The late Jean Khoury, one of my best ever recruits, who unfortunately died at age 52, reorganized hematology, the hematology division, make it more research driven and bring in new faculty.

So we had to recruit a lot of faculty with different styles, but there’s no question and different foci that we had to focus on dramatically improving clinical trial accrual if we were ever going to get NCI designation. So we got NCI designation in 2009, renewed it again in 2012, and then shortly after I left 2016, we got NCI or Emory. I was still technically a faculty there, got NCI comprehensive designation, Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, which had been the dream of the Emory Board of Trustees and the Woodruff Foundation, since the late 1990s.

So it took longer than we hoped. But it’s an outstanding cancer center now. No question. We did recruit, fortunately, also outstanding basic scientists and biostatisticians and epidemiologists, to fill out the roster to do great work. So it’s a well balanced center.

Gevorg Tamamyan: If you describe in one sentence only if you have a little limitations of words, how you would say, who is Fadlo Khuri?

Fadlo Khuri: I’m someone who chooses the people that I want to work with, studies them and trusts them completely.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Who had the most impact on you and who are your role models?

Fadlo Khuri: I think the person who had by far the most impact on me, candidly, is my wife. She’s been with me, we’ve been together for 39 years. We met when she was 21 and I was a little bit over 22. She’s a very good scientist, very good writer, very logical, very good critic. She can pick out all my flaws as she’s an incredible partner. She herself has a PhD, but she’s worked in other areas.

In terms of role models, I think my greatest role models were probably my two parents to begin with, my younger brother, who’s also a much better student. And in my professional career, I would say my greatest role models were, Howard Koh, who was my attending physician, as an intern, as a resident, he became the commissioner for our Health and Human Services for the state of Massachusetts. And then the deputy, Secretary of Health and Human Services for the United States for six years.

Juan Ki Hong, who was my chair at MD Anderson, was a wonderful, very tough mentor, and probably Bernie Weinstein, who was my lab boss and longtime mentor for Columbia medical school. I’ve had many wonderful mentors, but those are the three most influential. And fortunately, Howard is still around, so I can call him once in a while.

Gevorg Tamamyan: What’s the thing? You are the proudest of?

Fadlo Khuri: I think I’m proudest of the people I’ve mentored in the institutions that we’ve helped build by far. I’m proud of my science, but I’m especially proud of the people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with.

Gevorg Tamamyan: What is leadership, in your opinion?

Fadlo Khuri: I think leadership is about trust and empowerment more than anything else. And trust and empowerment means you encourage people to do the right thing, even if they make a mistake. In my opinion, the most ineffective leaders are the ones who are paralyzed by fear of making a mistake or looking bad.

If I would say I have one dominant quality, one towering strength. I’m unafraid of making mistakes, but I learn from every mistake, and I’m very unlikely to repeat the same mistake twice. And so I encourage people as leaders to empower others to make mistakes.

I know that sounds counterintuitive, but the best leaders in human history have made mistakes without, you know, as Colin Powell said, Colin Powell once said “If you have 30% of the data, that’s more than enough to make a decision, and if you have 70%, you’ve waited too late.”

That’s the way I’ve tried to lead is to have a good amount of data and make the right decision. You make a decision that’s wrong, you can always correct it. But if you don’t make a decision, it is unlikely that a serious problem will resolve itself on its own.

Gevorg Tamamyan: What was key to your success if you just mention one?

Fadlo Khuri: I think key to my success was, the determination to do the right thing, trusting others, but also trusting myself that I was making decisions, analyzing data, treating patients for the right reasons. At the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself that you are doing things for the right reasons. If you’re doing them to advance your career, or to look good, or to win awards, it eventually comes crumbling down. You have to trust yourself to make the right decision and to correct it when it’s the wrong decision. So I think I wouldn’t call it self-confidence, but self-trust.

Gevorg Tamamyan: We’re talking with Richard Sullivan from UK, and Richard was, I mean, gave a great example. He said, there are two kinds of people in the world, people of reason and people of vanity. So if the people of reason lead, it’s going to be like always good.

Fadlo Khuri: No, I agree, and I think people of reason have to trust that the others are also, in general, people of reason. I give people who I work with many opportunities to show me that they’re good people. I start with the belief that all people have considerable good at their core. If they make a mistake, or if they’re not well suited to a leadership position, that doesn’t make them bad people.

And I think trusting and believing in others and giving them the opportunity to do good and let them realize how good they will feel if they do the right thing, as opposed to if they do something for reasons that they ultimately know are wrong, they will feel better about themselves and empower others.

So it’s trying to support others, be generous with them, be supportive, especially when they need you to be supportive. You know, when someone’s successful, they don’t need your support. It’s when they’re in a tough moment, personally or professionally that you need to be there for them. And that way they will be there for others.

Gevorg Tamamyan: How do you see the future of oncology?

Fadlo Khuri: So I think the future of oncology is going to become more and more about training to manage the information. If you look at the history of new compound or drug approvals from the 50s, you know, the first compounds all the way through the early aughts before the genomic explosion, you’ll see that the number of new drugs that we’ve had added to our arsenal has mushroomed. A tremendous number of new drugs are available, and they put us on the cusp of practicing precision medicine.

The oncologist has always complained about having toxins with beneficial side effects, right. I mean, but those toxins have saved many lives. It’s not as clear yet how many lives the newer drugs will save. They will prolong them. But we had a hint a few years ago when a paper in the New England Journal showed that most of the progress in the last decade in improving lifespan with lung cancer and survival in lung cancer is down to the targeted therapies. And we expect that immunotherapy will add to that. And maybe the conjugate base drugs will add to that.

But they’re very expensive drugs. And we’re going to need precision medicine to tell us, first of all, how we apply them in a cost effective way and then how we broaden their use. So it’s not just ten countries in the world or 20 countries in the world that are benefiting from these treatments. The reality is the great breakthroughs in oncology and the subsequent treatments and diagnoses that they’ve yielded have been restricted to the economically advantaged countries.

And so this idea of financial toxicity has to be, frankly, tackled head on. We know that people will immigrate, will move legally or illegally to get a treatment or to get their loved one a treatment. But if you look at the example of PEPFAR and what, George W Bush and his administration did in providing HIV treatment and prevention for the people of Africa, so far, 25 million lives saved and the very real possibility of eliminating Aids as a phenomenon by 2030, if we continue to treat mothers and unborn children at risk and populations at risk.

So I think we need to think that way in oncology. We need to think about it, of course, in an affordable way. That’s why we need precision medicine, and we need to start to apply some economic sanity to this new class of compounds.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Thank you. Another prominent AUB alumni, Doctor Kantarjian, who also I mean, he was giving an interview, I think it was a few years ago. And he was talking about a drug. He says if you are talking about a drug and say it’s a miracle, but patients cannot access it, I mean, there is no miracle about it.

Fadlo Khuri: Exactly. Right. So Hagop Kantarjian is one of my closest friends and one of my heroes.

Gevorg Tamamyan: For me too about the hero, but I’m fortunate to call him a mentor.

Fadlo Khuri: So, Hagop, is a very good example of what the Republican candidate for president said in 1964 when he said extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And that’s Barry Goldwater.

What Hagop has practiced his whole career is that any extremism in the pursuit of the cure of all leukemias is mandatory. He has looked under every barrel. He’s tried and pioneered a number of drugs. His determination to cure leukemia is unequaled. He’s been at the very penetrating point of the cutting edge on some treatments and part of the team for others, but he’s built an incredible department, and he’s strictly focused on the cure of leukemia.

You won’t see Hagop, he’ll go, and he’ll be interested in learning about other diseases, but only to use how that influences and can inform the treatment of leukemia. This is from a guy who reads Arabic, English, and French fluently, who’s a painter, who’s an athlete. But he’s absolutely determined. And it’s a very good example of someone who’s focused his entire career on one disease, something I didn’t have the opportunity to do since I took this job before I was 52. So I admire and love Hagop.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Me too. And he’s really a role model for me as a like out of book thinker and innovator. And I mean, he’s like this grand rounds or just like Small talks had really so much influence on me on my way of thinking. And I hope one day he will receive the Nobel Prize. I hope.

Fadlo Khuri: I hope so. He’s also a two time AUB graduate, I might add.

Gevorg Tamamyan: What are your top three books?

Fadlo Khuri: My three favorite books that I’ve read ever or that I’ve read recently.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Whichever you want.

Fadlo Khuri: So I’ll talk the last few years. I love biography. I love Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book on Lincoln, Andrew Roberts’ biography of Napoleon is incredible because it gives you a much more holistic view of a man who was an extraordinary influence on Europe and the world.

You know, the legacy of Napoleon is not just the Republic. It’s bringing different classes of people post-revolution close to each other. It’s the academies. It’s Napoleonic law. It’s a, frankly speaking, I was in a discussion with a good friend yesterday, and I was saying, remarking that Napoleon’s legacy probably extends all the way to the fact that a defeated France in World War II was admired enough by a francophone and in Churchill and others that they were not treated as a defeated combatant but as a conquered ally.

And that is a mark of not just the enormous cultural influence, because Germany has an enormous cultural influence. Of course, Germany was the aggressor in World War II, but of Napoleon’s enduring and France’s enduring influence in the rest of the world. So those are two of my three favorite books.

The first would be, really, Lincoln. Because in my opinion, Lincoln was the greatest statesman of the modern era, the greatest statesman of the last 500 years. He stood for and did all the right things and paid the ultimate price for it. He was only president for really one term.

The last book, which I really enjoy, and it’s a recent book that I’ve read and I’ve reread is Amin Maalouf the Rock of Tanios. I first read it when it came out in 92, 93. I’ve reread it and it’s a fictional account of how the schism happened that led to the first Lebanese Mountain War. It’s not just the story, it’s a fictional story, but it’s such a beautiful prose and the characters come to life and they show you how communities are rendered asunder by 1 or 2 small, very personal incidents.

So those are probably three of my favorite recent books that I’ve read in the last couple of years.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Thank you. What advice you would give to young oncologists?

Fadlo Khuri: Well, the best advice I could give to a young oncologist is to embrace the science, to follow Osler’s observation. When he said that he was surprised how many physicians practiced medicine without reading, but he was not surprised at how poorly they did it.

So as an oncologist, with this explosion of knowledge, you have to read, you have to understand the research and you have to collaborate. For me, some of the richest moments of my career have been collaborations with wonderful physicians and scientists. People like Hyen Fu and Xiang Sun at Emory, Suresh Ramalingam at Emory, Ruben Lotan at MD Anderson. and you know, statisticians like Jack Lee or Peter Thall or Andre Rogowko.

So the chance to work with great people and to work with them across different cultures and experiments, even not research on Ruth, O’Regan . I think it’s no secret. It’s one of my favorite colleagues of all time. Her research and my research did not overlap, but we had the great opportunity to bring her in, to watch her grow as a leader, to watch her develop our fellowship program and make an impact.

So I think the great joy of collaboration with others to be part of a team, because we need to be a team to defeat cancer as the singular, most important thing that I could Council.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Thank you very much, Doctor Khoury. Before we close, who would you advise to interview next?

Fadlo Khuri: Who would I recommend to interview next? Well, Ruth O’Regan would make a great interview. She’s the chair of medicine so she’s now broadened her template to internal medicine at the University of Rochester.

I think Tom Lynch, who is the president of the Hutch. He’s a wonderful physician and a leader of women and men. This is a great, great person and a great friend. Those are two great leaders that I think you would enjoy talking to.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed so much your thoughts and the interview. It was so motivational and inspirational. And I’m sure our auditorium also is going to enjoy it. And is there anything else you would like to add before we close?

Fadlo Khuri: I would like to add just that caring for people less fortunate or helping people less fortunate is the greatest privilege in life. When your colleagues or people in general trust you to care for their loved ones, there’s nothing more important that one can do. And I think it’s a privilege to care for people who trust you and I. I wish you the best of luck. And I hope that the generations to come will continue to enjoy their work as much as I’ve had the opportunity to.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Thank you so much Doctor Khoury.

Fadlo Khuri: Thank you. Have a wonderful day.

Gevorg Tamamyan: Have a wonderful day too.

Fadlo Khuri: Bye bye

Gevorg Tamamyan: Bye.

Previous episodes of OncoInfluencers

Episode 1: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Françoise Meunier

Episode 2: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Dean Crowe

Episode 3: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Nagashree Seetharamu

Episode 4: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Julie Gralow

Episode 5: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Lillian L. Siu

Episode 6: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Douglas Flora

Episode 7: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Pasi Jänne

Episode 8: OncoInfluencers: Dialogue with Tony Mok