In my role, I lead AstraZeneca’s new Haematology R&D unit, with responsibilities spanning from early discoveries and target identification, to first-in-human clinical studies, to late stage trials and drug approvals.
I am a clinician-scientist and have spent more than 25 years caring for patients with lymphoma. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, I was at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) where I served as the Chief of the Lymphoma Service, in addition to leading a laboratory focused on drug development for patients with lymphoid malignancies. Our lab was focused on accelerating the translation of scientific discoveries into novel treatment strategies to improve the cure rate and survival of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Prior to MSKCC, I worked for 20 years at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) where I directed clinical and translational research in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma.
During my tenure in academia, I lead numerous clinical trials that advanced the field and resulted in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of two novel agents for patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma, including the first targeted drug for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma in more than three decades, and the approval of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor for lymphoma. During the same time, our groups’ efforts at MDACC and MSKCC resulted in 11 new approved indications for the treatment of patients with different types of lymphoid malignancies.
I have published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals, served as the principal investigator of more than 60 clinical trials, including national and international multi-centre studies, and led two independent National Cancer Institute–funded Specialized Programs of Research Excellence at MDACC and MSKCC that focused on novel drug development for patients with lymphoma. I also led a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society-sponsored Specialized Center of Research program focusing on developing a second-generation CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy for patients with blood cancers. I am a past member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
After earning a medical degree from the Damascus University School of Medicine in Syria, I completed residencies in pathology at the College of Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Toledo in Ohio, in internal medicine at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, in New York, and a fellowship in haematology/oncology at MSKCC.
We’ve made so much progress in treating blood cancers over the last two decades, and are entering an exciting new phase of research. As a clinician, I have seen the impact our progress has had on the lives of patients with blood cancers. I am proud to bring my background as a researcher and haematologist to the AstraZeneca scientific community to develop a new generation of medicines that will transform lives of people with blood cancers.
Served as Chief of the Lymphoma Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and was a special advisor to the Chief of Medicine for Research and the Steven A. Greenberg Chair in Lymphoma Research from 2019-2020
MD Anderson Cancer Center, served as Professor of Medicine and for almost a decade, served as the Director of Clinical and Translational Research in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma
Awarded Hodgkin Lymphoma Award, Cologne, Germany
Emerging epigenetic-modulating therapies in lymphoma
Safety and activity of ibrutinib in combination with nivolumab in patients with relapsed non-Hodgkin lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: a phase 1/2a study
Younes A, Brody J, Carpio C, Lopez-Guillermo A, Ben-Yehuda D, Ferhanoglu B, Nagler A, Ozcan M, Avivi I, Bosch F, Caballero Barrigón MD, Hellmann A, Kuss B, Ma DDF, Demirkan F, Yağci M, Horowitz NA, Marlton P, Cordoba R, Wrobel T, Buglio D, Streit M, Hodkinson BP, Schaffer M, Alvarez J, Ceulemans R, Balasubramanian S, de Jong J, Wang SS, Fourneau N, Jurczak W. Lancet Haematol. 2019 Feb;6(2):e67-e78. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanhae/article/PIIS2352-3026(18)30217-5/fulltext
Brentuximab Vedotin with Chemotherapy for Stage III or IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Connors JM, Jurczak W, Straus DJ, Ansell SM, Kim WS, Gallamini A, Younes A, Alekseev S, Illés Á, Picardi M, Lech-Maranda E, Oki Y, Feldman T, Smolewski P, Savage KJ, Bartlett NL, Walewski J, Chen R, Ramchandren R, Zinzani PL, Cunningham D, Rosta A, Josephson NC, Song E, Sachs J, Liu R, Jolin HA, Huebner D, Radford J; ECHELON-1 Study Group. N Engl J Med. 2018 Jan 25;378(4):331-344. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1708984
International Working Group consensus response evaluation criteria in lymphoma (RECIL 2017)
Younes A, Hilden P, Coiffier B, Hagenbeek A, Salles G, Wilson W, Seymour JF, Kelly K, Gribben J, Pfreunschuh M, Morschhauser F, Schoder H, Zelenetz AD, Rademaker J, Advani R, Valente N, Fortpied C, Witzig TE, Sehn LH, Engert A, Fisher RI, Zinzani PL, Federico M, Hutchings M, Bollard C, Trneny M, Elsayed YA, Tobinai K, Abramson JS, Fowler N, Goy A, Smith M, Ansell S, Kuruvilla J, Dreyling M, Thieblemont C, Little RF, Aurer I, Van Oers MHJ, Takeshita K, Gopal A, Rule S, de Vos S, Kloos I, Kaminski MS, Meignan M, Schwartz LH, Leonard JP, Schuster SJ, Seshan VE. Ann Oncol. 2017 Jul 1;28(7):1436-1447. https://www.annalsofoncology.org/article/S0923-7534(19)32246-X/fulltext
Standards and Guidelines for the Interpretation and Reporting of Sequence Variants in Cancer: A Joint Consensus Recommendation of the Association for Molecular Pathology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and College of American Pathologists
Li MM, Datto M, Duncavage EJ, Kulkarni S, Lindeman NI, Roy S, Tsimberidou AM, Vnencak-Jones CL, Wolff DJ, Younes A, Nikiforova MN.J Mol Diagn. 2017 Jan;19(1):4-23. https://www.jmdjournal.org/article/S1525-1578(16)30223-9/fulltext
Five-year survival and durability results of brentuximab vedotin in patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma
Chen R, Gopal AK, Smith SE, Ansell SM, Rosenblatt JD, Savage KJ, Connors JM, Engert A, Larsen EK, Huebner D, Fong A, Younes A. Blood. 2016 Sep 22;128(12):1562-6. https://ashpublications.org/blood/article/128/12/1562/73112/Five-year-survival-and-durability-results-of
Safety, tolerability, and preliminary activity of CUDC-907, a first-in-class, oral, dual inhibitor of HDAC and PI3K, in patients with relapsed or refractory lymphoma or multiple myeloma: an open-label, dose-escalation, phase 1 trial
Younes A, Berdeja JG, Patel MR, Flinn I, Gerecitano JF, Neelapu SS, Kelly KR, Copeland AR, Akins A, Clancy MS, Gong L, Wang J, Ma A, Viner JL, Oki Y. Lancet Oncol. 2016 May;17(5):622-31. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)00584-7/fulltext
Nivolumab for classical Hodgkin's lymphoma after failure of both autologous stem-cell transplantation and brentuximab vedotin: a multicentre, multicohort, single-arm phase 2 trial.
Younes A, Santoro A, Shipp M, Zinzani PL, Timmerman JM, Ansell S, Armand P, Fanale M, Ratanatharathorn V, Kuruvilla J, Cohen JB, Collins G, Savage KJ, Trneny M, Kato K, Farsaci B, Parker SM, Rodig S, Roemer MG, Ligon AH, Engert A. Lancet Oncol. 2016 Sep;17(9):1283-94. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(16)30167-X/fulltext