Azra Raza, MD

Dr. Azra Raza is the Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine, Clinical Director of the Evans Foundation MDS Center, and Executive Director of The First Cell Coalition for Cancer Survivors at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Raza completed her medical education in Pakistan, training in Internal Medicine at the University of Maryland, Franklin Square Hospital and Georgetown/VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and completed her fellowship in Medical Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. She started her research in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) in 1984 and moved to Rush University, Chicago, Illinois in 1992, where she was the Charles Arthur Weaver Professor in Oncology and Director, Division of Myeloid Diseases. The MDS program, along with a Tissue Repository containing more than 60,000 samples from MDS and acute leukemia patients was successfully relocated to Columbia University in 2010. Before moving to New York, Dr. Raza was the Chief of Hematology Oncology and the Gladys Smith Martin Professor of Oncology at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. She has published the results of her laboratory research and clinical trials in prestigious, peer reviewed journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Blood, Cell, Cancer Cell, PNAS, Cancer, Cancer Research, British Journal of Hematology, Leukemia, Leukemia Research.

Dr. Raza has mentored hundreds of medical students, residents, oncology fellows, doctoral and post-doctoral students in the last three decades. She serves on numerous National and International panels as a reviewer, consultant and advisor. Raza has collaborated on multiple high yielding large research projects with pharmaceutical companies including Celgene, Novartis, Regeneron and Grail Inc, and serves on the Board of GRAIL Inc.

Raza is the recipient of a number of awards including The First Lifetime Achievement Award from APPNA, Award in Academic Excellence twice (2007 and 2010) from Dogana, and Woman of the Year Award from Safeer e Pakistan, CA, The Hope Award in Cancer Research 2012 (shared with the Nobel Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn) and the 2016 and 2019 Recognition Award from Developments in Literacy. Dr. Raza has been named as one of the 100 Women Who Matter by Newsweek Pakistan. In 2015, Dr. Raza was a member of the Founder Group at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, designing Breakthrough Developments in Science and Technology with President Bill Clinton. On December 1, 2015, Dr. Raza was part of a core group of cancer researchers who met with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

She is also the co-author of GHALIB: Epistemologies of Elegancea book on the works of the famous Urdu poet. She believes that the best way to “tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world” is by promoting and publicizing the achievements of humanity in science, art, and literature. She was married to the late Harvey D. Preisler, Director, Rush University Cancer Center in Chicago and has a daughter Sheherzad Raza Preisler who also lives in New York.

In the last three years:

  • Published The First Cell: And the human costs of pursuing cancer to the last which is a best seller
  • Interviewed top thirty-one oncology leaders in the country asking each the same five questions to see what their ideas are to cure cancer
  • Delivered ~150 lectures to industry and academic institutions
  • Established The Oncology Think Tank with 30 oncology leaders from academia (Columbia, Hopkins, Harvard, MD Anderson, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, City of Hope, Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center) and industry (Regeneron, Grail, Nantkwest and Brucher), who all agreed that the future of cancer research is early detection and prevention, publishing an Opinion Paper on behalf of the think tank in Scientific American:
  • Established the First Cell Coalition for Cancer Survivors (FICCCS) where 8 institutions (Columbia, Harvard, MD Anderson, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Montefiore-Einstein and City of Hope) will be collecting 50,000 samples on cancer survivors in 3 years to catch The First Cell and bank samples for serial multi-omics and raised the funds for the project (~$20M)
  • Competed for and secured the $10M Evans Foundation award (with co-Director Dr. Kousteni) to establish the Evans Foundation MDS Center at Columbia University
  • Published numerous scientific articles in high profile journals and posted a series of five original essays on a new model of cancer ( )
  • Conducting a busy clinical practice (30-40 MDS/AML patients a week) and continuing collection of blood, marrow, saliva samples adding to the existing Tissue Repository with ~60,000 samples longitudinally obtained since 1984 from MDS patients as they develop leukemia or die of MDS

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