Raymond Sawaya, MD

2019, San Francisco, California

Dr. Raymond Sawaya was the founding chair of Neurosurgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as well as an advisor to the leaders of the Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Moon Shot™. He also served as director of the Brain Tumor Center and is currently holder of the Anne C. Brooks & Anthony D. Bullock, III Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery.

Dr. Sawaya earned his medical degree from St. Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon, and completed a surgical internship at Beekman Downtown Hospital in New York City.  Multiple residencies followed: in general surgery at Upstate Medical Center State University of New York, in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, and in neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  In 1980, he accepted the position of chief resident in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and then held a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a Fogerty International fellow. At NIH, he found his career focus: brain tumors and, in particular, glioblastomas. He was recruited back to the University of Cincinnati in 1982, where he spent eight years building that institution’s brain tumor program.

He has influenced the field of neurosurgical oncology in several major ways. Ever since he was recruited in 1990 to establish a newly formed Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson, he has built the most comprehensive and best recognized neurosurgical oncology program in the country (Neurosurgery 56: 841-50, 2005).

Dr. Sawaya is an internationally recognized leader in neurosurgery, with particular expertise in primary and metastatic brain tumors. His laboratory work helped identify molecular determinates of brain tumor invasiveness, and in particular, the role of serine proteases and their roles in glioma oncogenesis (over 60 publications). On the clinical side, he has helped identify brain metastases as a major threat to the well-being of cancer patients, and was the first to promote the treatment of patients with multiple brain metastases (J Neurosurg 79: 210-6, 1993; 368 citations). Dr. Sawaya is renowned for his great strides in enhancing the accessibility and safety of brain tumor surgery. This can best be demonstrated in his landmark paper on the importance of extent of resection on the survival of glioblastoma patients (J Neurosurg 95: 190-8, 2001; 1440 citations). He has also conducted the first prospective trial on the use of intraoperative MRI to maximize the extent of resection (Neurosurgery 64: 1073-81, 2009; 105 citations).

He has published more than 300 articles and book chapters and has served as both reviewer and editor for a number of peer-reviewed journals. He is the past president of the American Radium Society, the past president of the Houston Neurological Society, and past chair of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Section on Tumors. Dr. Sawaya is in demand as a lecturer across the nation and around the world and has received a number of awards in recognition of his expertise.