Researcher Spotlight: Victor Yazbeck, MD, MS

Virginia Commonwealth University, Massey CancerAbnormal cell growth that cannot be controlled by the body's natural defenses. Cancerous cells can grow and eventually form tumors. Center

 

Lymphoma patients with relapsed or refractory diseaseA cancer that is resistant to treatment. are often resistant to current therapies. Dr. Yazbeck’s LRF Clinical Research Mentoring Program (LCRMP) project is an early phase clinical study of a combination therapy new to lymphoma, panobinostat (Farydak) and buparlisib, that simultaneously targets genetic signaling pathways known to promote the growth or proliferation of lymphoma cells. “Co-targeting the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and HDAC pathways showed strong preclinical efficacy in different lymphoma subtypes.” Dr. Yazbeck says. “My proposed phase 1 study aims to explore this combination in the clinical setting with the hope that it will provide a therapeutic option for lymphoma patients with unmet medical needs.”

Dr. Yazbeck received his MD from Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon before coming to the United States to work as a postdoctoral fellow in lymphoma at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He then completed his residency at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University and his fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, where he also received an MS in clinical research. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and an Associate Member of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at Massey Cancer Center. Dr. Yazbeck says he was drawn to lymphoma research because “the challenges of moving promising research from the bench to the bedside combined with the status of lymphoma research as a leading field in cancer therapy and drug development has completely captured my scientific curiosity.”

Dr. Yazbeck notes that his appointment as an LRF Scholar will help him develop his skills as a researcher. “The LCRMP will allow me to acquire a formal training in clinical lymphoma research, a better understanding of the nuances needed to perform successful lymphoma research, and an unparalleled exposure to the leaders in the field, which will be a tremendous opportunity to advance my career.” He adds that his commitment to lymphoma research is inspired by his predecessors in the field, including those on the LCRMP faculty. “Lymphoma researchers have always been at the forefront of drug development and translational research. Their commitment to lymphoma research has been inspirational to many junior faculty who look forward to carrying the torch by continuing to advance the field, and improving the lives of lymphoma patients.”