BEIRUT: As the American University of Beirut was celebrating the graduation of students in Graduate, Ph.D., and Doctor of Medicine programs on Friday, renowned physician and leukemia specialist Hagop Kantarjian received the Honorary Doctorate at the Commencement ceremony.
Hagop Kantarjian, who's currently the Chair of the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, has markedly advanced the field of hematologic cancers and revolutionized the treatment of many types of leukemia, particularly in the areas of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
Annahar interviewed Kantarjian, who showed great excitement in the leukemia treatment field as he explained that leukemia is gradually moving from highly fatal to a highly curable disease.
“There is a revolution of advances in the understanding and treatment of leukemia,” Kantnejian told Annahar.
A major highlight in leukemia research, according to Kanterjian, is the increased survival rate of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia patients.
"Patients previously diagnosed with CML, who had little chance of surviving for only a few years, can now expect to live 25 to 30 more years. In adults, the cure rate has gone from less than 20% to about 50%, which is a remarkable achievement," Kantarjian said.
He dedicated his time to develop new research protocols that transformed CML from a life-strengthening disease to a chronic ailment with close to normal long-term survival rates.
Kantarjian is known for the war he methodically waged on the concept that health care is a privilege of the few, not the right of all, as AUB President Fadlo Khuri said during the ceremony.
Kantarjian is also part of the Forum of Hematologic Malignancies, which aims to provide blood cancer specialists with cutting-edge knowledge in their fields. It also gathers physicians from across the MENA region, and draws an audience of more than 100 medical doctors from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia.
The tradition of awarding honorary degrees at AUB began in 1890 when the university was known as the Syrian Protestant College (SPC). The president of the university, trustees, faculty members (individually or jointly), and other members of the university community can nominate candidates to receive honorary doctoral degrees from AUB.
Kantarjian told Annahar that he attributes his success to AUB and MD Anderrson who pushed him to approach oncology as they stood as a tremendous influence in his path.
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