May 20, 2024

Internationally known clinical and translational researcher joins WSU and Karmanos, co-leads the GI oncology team

Wasif Saif, M.D., to Lead Phase 1 clinical trials

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Wayne State University School of Medicine welcome Wasif Saif, M.D., M.B.B.S., as the new leader of the Phase 1 Clinical Trials Multidisciplinary Team and co-leader of the Gastrointestinal and Neuroendocrine Oncology Multidisciplinary Team. Dr. Saif, now a WSU professor of Oncology, is a world-renowned hematologist and oncologist specializing in GI cancers, experimental therapeutics and pharmacogenetics.

Wasif Saif, M.D., M.B.B.S.

“Karmanos Cancer Institute is a trailblazer in cancer research and has been a major contributor to significant strides in new drug and therapy development,” Dr. Saif said. “I am most excited about continuing translational research at this NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center with access to a diverse cancer population. This cancer center’s rich data from clinical trials, studies and investigations largely shape the understanding of cancer and treatment for multiple populations. The avenues the physicians, scientists and researchers have open to them are endless, and I am honored to be part of this significant work in Detroit.”

Dr. Saif has an extensive background in translational research and developing and managing clinical trials. As the Phase 1 Clinical Trials MDT leader, he will lead a team of physician co-investigators, non-physician providers, clinical personnel and Clinical Trials Office staff to oversee Phase 1 solid tumor investigations. Karmanos’ Phase 1 team oversees more than 70 clinical trials at various stages of the protocol lifecycle. Members of the team include medical oncologists specializing in many different cancers, who research, study and develop therapies, bringing them from lab to bedside. Having a Phase 1 team in Detroit gives cancer patients access to promising new treatments not offered elsewhere.

Dr. Saif will also work alongside Najeeb Al Hallak, M.D., M.S., WSU assistant professor of Oncology, in leading the GI and Neuroendocrine Oncology MDT, a team of cardiothoracic surgeons, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, hematologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists that dedicate their research and treatment to GI and neuroendocrine cancers. He specializes in treating anal, biliary, colon, carcinoid, esophagus, GIST, liver, pancreas, rectum and stomach cancers. His research interests include anti-cancer drug development with an emphasis on analysis of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, biomarker discovery, pharmacogenetics, epidemiology and disparity studies in GI cancers, and developing complementary and alternative medicines to treat cancer.

“Dr. Saif's philosophy and leadership in novel therapeutics fits our vision of continuing to grow our Phase 1 Clinical Trials Program at Karmanos. His research interests in GI cancers will complement our GI team. I am confident we will see more breakthrough discoveries from these MDTs with Dr. Saif’s leadership and vision,” said Boris Pasche, M.D. Ph.D., FACP, president and chief executive officer at Karmanos and chair of the WSU Department of Oncology.

In addition to his leadership roles, Dr. Saif sees patients at Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit. 

Before joining Karmanos, Dr. Saif served on the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Yale University School of Medicine, Columbia University in New York City and Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass. He has served as the leader of the GI oncology division at Yale, Columbia and Tufts, and as the program leader in experimental therapeutics at Tufts. He has also served in executive roles at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, and Orlando Health. Dr. Saif is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the European Society of Medical Oncology, the Carcinoid Foundation, and the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He has served as the principal investigator on more than 75 clinical trials and has published more than 650 scientific papers in addition to textbook chapters, abstracts and proceedings of meetings.

He earned his medical degree from King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, and completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He completed medical oncology and hematology fellowships at the National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

This article originally appears at

Subscribe to Today@Wayne

Direct to your inbox twice a week

Related articles