- Primary Hospital Affiliation:
- The Miriam Hospital
- Also Associated With:
- Rhode Island Hospital
- Medical School: Boston University School of Medicine
- Residency: Boston Medical Center
- Fellowship: Boston Medical Center
- Areas of Expertise:
- Blood disorders
- Clotting problems
- Esophageal motility
- Pancreatic disease
Howard Safran, MD, director of Lifespan oncology cancer research, serves as medical director of the Brown University Oncology Group, as medical oncology chairman of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) and as a member of CTEP’s esophagogastric and pancreatic task force. Through his research, he has helped to develop new treatments for upper gastrointestinal malignancies, organize and chair phase III cooperative group studies, and has led the Brown University Oncology Group to national prominence.
Safran received his medical degree from the Boston University School of Medicine and completed his residency and fellowship at Boston Medical Center.
His most significant contribution has been in the management of esophageal cancer. Through phase I and II trials within the framework of the Brown University Oncology Group, he lead the development of the regiment of neoadjuvant weekly paclitaxel, platinum and radiation. This treatment has become the control arm of cooperative group trials and is emerging as a standard of care in North America and Europe for esophageal cancer. Within the Brown University Oncology Group, he was among the first to describe HER2 overexpression in adenocarcinoma of the GE junction, then piloted the use of trastuzumab with neoadjuvant chemoradiation. This led to the phase III cooperative group trial, RTOG 1010, for which he is principal investigator. He also described the use of the EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab with chemoradiation. This led to the phase III trial, RTOG 0436, which he played a major role in organization and activation. In collaboration with scientists at Rhode Island Hospital, he has received the B1QSFP grant for central HER2 testing for RTOG 1010 and is creating the largest tissue bank for patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma. This will be a rich source to understand the molecular pathobiology of this disease.
It has been difficult to improve the treatment for pancreatic cancer. He has led the investigation of targeted agents with chemotherapy and radiation, including gemcitabine, paclitaxel, bevacizumab, farnesyl transferase inhibitors, IGF-1R inhibitors and TRAIL receptor agonists. He has had the opportunity to be medical oncology chairman for the phase III national pancreatic trial RTOG 9704, and for the phase II national studies RTOG 9411, RTOG 9812 and RTOG 0020. He will be the medical oncology chair for RTOG 1102. He had the leadership role bringing together the RTOG, SWOG and the EORTC for RTOG 0848. This trial will answer the controversial question of the role of adjuvant radiation in pancreatic cancer and will also develop the most import tissue bank for this disease.