Fadlo Khuri, 16th president of the American University of Beirut (AUB)

Read the reflection article by Meg Salvia

Medicine, Academia, and the Syrian Refugee Crisis: A Conversation with Dr. Fadlo Khuri

Tuesday, November 5, 2020. 

Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri is the 16thpresiden­­t of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) at the Faculty of Medicine and Medical Center. He assumed office on September 1, 2015. Prior to joining AUB, he was professor and chairman of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine where he held the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research. He also served as deputy director for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and was the executive associate dean for research of the Emory University School of Medicine.

Khuri was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Beirut where his father, Raja N. Khuri, was dean of AUB’s Faculty of Medicine and his mother, Soumaya Makdisi Khuri, was a professor of mathematics at AUB. Following a year of study at AUB (1981-82), Khuri earned his undergraduate degree at Yale University in New Haven and his MD at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and a fellowship in hematology and medical oncology at the Tufts-New England Medical Center. He was on the faculty of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center from 1995-2002 prior to joining Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute (Winship) in 2003.

Khuri is an accomplished molecular oncologist and translational thought leader. His clinical expertise and research 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. He has authored over 400 peer-reviewed articles, over 50 editorials and perspectives in leading journals, and over 100 reviews and chapters. He has served for the last six years as editor-in-chief of Cancer, the oldest and one of the most prestigious journals in the field. His scientific work has been cited over 38,000 times according to Google Scholar, 23,000 times according to Web of Science, and over 26,000 times according to Scopus (the latter two excluding self-citations), where his Hirsch index is 86. Khuri has also served as a permanent member of multiple peer review committees for the American Cancer Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and was chair of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Oncology Study Section.

Khuri’s ability to build teams to improve outcomes for cancer patients helped develop Winship into a premier translational research institution. He led the recruitment of over 90 faculty to Emory University, helped oversee an increase in adult cancer patients placed on trial annually from 143 (in 2002) to over 650 (in 2014), and paved the way for Winship’s NCI comprehensive cancer center designation.

Khuri was motivated to return to Lebanon in 2015 to assume the position of university president by his and his family’s strong and deep personal connections to the country and the university and his appreciation of AUB’s enormous impact on the Arab world and its role as a fundamental driver of the American liberal arts ethos in the region. His priorities have informed the $650 million BOLDLY AUB fundraising campaign that the university launched in January 2017 to strengthen its research and educational missions, and develop state-of-the-art campus and medical facilities. AUB’s renewed focus on health and well-being is also reflected in AUB’s Health 2025 vision to establish the first health sciences campus in the Arab region to make AUB a global player in health. Under Khuri’s leadership, AUB has reintroduced academic tenure and formed partnerships with peer universities in Lebanon and the world including Emory University, John Hopkins University, Paris Descartes University, Saint Joseph University, Trinity College Dublin, and University College London. Khuri is also leading Vision 2030, a far-reaching plan to make AUB a university that is even more strongly defined by its liberal arts ethos in education, excellence in research, compassionate medical care, and an abiding commitment to Lebanon and the Arab world.

Khuri’s work has been recognized with several major awards including the 2006 Nagi Sahyoun Award of the Middle East Medical Assemblyfor “research that has changed the way we think about and treat lung and head and neck cancer,” the 2010 Waun Ki Hong Distinguished Professorshipby the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the 2013 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Awardfrom the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for “his pioneering work in developing oncolytic viruses, signal transduction inhibitors, and biomarker-based chemoprevention approaches to lung and aerodigestive cancers.” In 2013, Khuri was also recognized with the Arab American High Achievers (AAHA) Award by theAlif Society, the major Arab Cultural Foundation of Georgia. In 2018, Khuri received the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) Joseph Cullen Prevention Award as well as the WHO No Tobacco Award. He was listed continuously among America’s Top Doctors by Castle Connolly from 2005-16 when he was practicing in the US. Khuri is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation(2007), a fellow of the American College of Physicians(2009) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science(2015), and a member of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences (2015).