American Success Story and Lung Cancer Hero

Lung Cancer Heroes®CURE® Lung Cancer Heroes® 2021 Essay Book
Volume 2

"Dr. Hossein came to the United States by himself in his teens as a political refugee from the turmoil in Iran," writes a colleague who nominated him for the Lung Cancer Heroes® Award. "Completely on his own and through his hard work, scholarship, initiative and refusal to let things get him down, he went to college and then to medical school."

It is my pleasure to nominate Dr. Hossein (Hoss) Borghaei as a lung cancer hero. He has been the true academic triple threat as a clinician, researcher and educator.

Dr. Hossein Borghaei and Dr. Martin J. Edelman

From left: Dr. Hossein Borghaei and Dr. Martin J. Edelman.

Hoss came to the United States by himself in his teens as a political refugee from the turmoil in Iran. Completely on his own and through his hard work, scholarship, initiative and refusal to let things get him down, he went to college and then to medical school. After his internal medicine residency at Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, he became a medical oncology fellow at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he developed an interest in thoracic oncology under the tutelage of Dr. Corey Langer.

With Dr. Langer’s departure during a time of turmoil at Fox Chase, Hoss became the primary thoracic oncologist at the institution. Hoss is the consummate clinician. Despite busy clinics, he never seems rushed. His patients absolutely love him. His kindness, humor and concern shine through. The nursing staff adores him, and I have never heard him utter an unkind word. His clinic is characterized by both the devotion to patients as individuals and to advancing clinical research. He is the primary driver behind the thoracic portfolio of clinical trials at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

As an educator, he has had a fellow clinic for several years and is uniformly rated as an outstanding teacher by the fellows. In addition, he has also had residents and other students rotate through his clinic and laboratory, many of whom have gone on to seek careers in thoracic oncology.

In terms of science, Hoss has established himself as an expert in the field on immunotherapy in lung cancer and is regularly invited to participate in talks and other programs dealing with this subject at national and international meetings (e.g., American Society of Clinical Oncology [ASCO], European Society for Medical Oncology). As a clinical investigator, Hoss has led numerous investigator-initiated trials and was a member of the steering committee and the first author of the New England Journal of Medicine publication describing the role of immunotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer. The paper was the basis for the Food and Drug Administration approval of an immunotherapy drug in the second-line setting for non-small cell lung cancer as well as National Comprehensive Cancer Network and ASCO guideline changes. Hoss is the national principal investigator on the phase 3 ECOG-ACRIN EA5163 trial. This study is designed to answer several important questions regarding the sequencing of chemotherapy and immunotherapy and will likely result in changes in the standard of care.

Importantly, he contributes his time to the institution and the thoracic (and greater oncologic) community. Within the Office of Clinical Research, Hoss currently chairs the Research Review Committee, one of the busiest and most important committees for Fox Chase. He also serves as chief of the thoracic disease site, directs the tobacco treatment program and is a member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee.

In addition to his service locally, Hoss has a record of service to the lung cancer community both within the region and across the nation. Nationally, he is a member of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Thoracic Core Committee and was vice chair for the Clinical Cancer Research and Epidemiology Study Section of the American Cancer Society. Internationally, he is a member of the Education Committee for the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and an associate editor of the journal Lung Cancer.

Prior to my coming to Fox Chase, I knew Hoss for several years as a member of the thoracic oncology community and now have had the opportunity as a member of the thoracic oncology group at Fox Chase Cancer Center to work closely with him. He is an outstanding clinician and a warm and friendly individual. At a time when we question the value of immigration, he demonstrates why immigrants are the backbone of the country. He is definitely a lung cancer hero.

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