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U-M CCC - Progress Newsletter Summer 2003 Online

Welcome Dr. Maha Hussain

For someoneMaha Hussain, M.D. who can't remember a time when she didn't want to be a doctor, Maha Hussain's joint appointment in the departments of Internal Medicine and Urology at the University of Michigan in October 2002 could be called destiny.

The chance to build and maintain close bonds with patients is what attracted Dr. Hussain to her field. As she tells it, "For me, internal medicine was the ideal pursuit, and oncology the ideal specialty. Here, the strongest relationship exists between patients and doctors."

The chance to build and maintain close bonds with patients is what attracted Dr. Hussain to her field. As she tells it, "For me, internal medicine was the ideal pursuit, and oncology the ideal specialty. Here, the strongest relationship exists between patients and doctors."

Dr. Hussain is also focused on researching the biology of cancer and on applying that learning to the treatment of her patients. A national leader in the management of prostate and bladder cancers, and chair of the Advanced Prostate Cancer subcommittee of the Southwest Oncology Group, Dr. Hussain graduated from Baghdad University Medical School and completed an internal medicine residency and oncology fellowship at Wayne State University. There, she served as the Genitourinary Oncology section chief in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and the team leader for the Multidisciplinary Genitourinary Oncology Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute prior to making the move to Michigan.

For clinical research, she has found that move to be a timely one. "The number one thing a clinical researcher needs is a strong basic science establishment to use new discoveries and move them rapidly into the clinic. At the same time, we need to ask questions about what we see in our patients and have them answered in the lab. That's what I am interested in, and that is what's available at Michigan."

The strength and depth of U-M's urology department has also been invaluable to Dr. Hussain in advancing her research. "There's always an exchange of ideas. The collaboration and interaction with the faculty in medical oncology is very attractive here."

Although she is involved in numerous studies, two clinical trials currently underway demonstrate the scope of Dr. Hussain's genitourinary cancer research. In the first, new prostate cancer research patients are identified who exhibit specific features that indicate a cancer not likely to be cured by surgery or radiation. Promising chemotherapy combinations are started prior to localized treatment, attempting to see benefit by introducing systemic therapy early in the disease, prior to surgery. Dr. Hussain notes that this research highlights the advantage of working at a center with the resources of U-M. "By obtaining tissue prior to and after surgery to study scientifically, we can see if we've achieved anything and what we can learn at a molecular level to improve treatment. That's why my move to Michigan was so important: this kind of expertise is absolutely needed,"she says.

A second trial authored by Dr. Hussain also deals with early-stage prostate cancer patients. This national study focuses on patients considered high risk who are not curable by surgery alone. This is the first such trial in the U.S. testing chemotherapy after radical prostectomy. One thing is clear: Dr. Hussain chose medicine, and Michigan, for all the right reasons. And the patients she treats and those working with her to answer cancerÕs vexing questions are glad she did.

 

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