Meet the Team: Iyad Alnahhas, MD, MS
The definition of what every Neuro-Oncologist should be
At MissionGBM, we see a lot of cases each week…often more than 50. The most frequent question that we get asked is, “How should we think about selecting a Neuro-Oncologist?”
We recommend that a patient ask a candidate Neuro-Oncologist (NO) a simple question at the outset of the NO interview: “Are you willing to be open-minded and work as part of a multi-institutional team to optimize outcomes for my case apart from Standard of Care (SoC)?”
Surprisingly, the answer is often “No”, or sometimes a hesitant “Yes”.
Two years later, we could not be happier about our working relationship with Dr. Alnahhas. Let us elaborate.
Characteristics of a Good Neuro-Oncologist
Spoiler Alert: Dr. Alnahhas exhibits all of the following characteristics at a very high level.
Clinical Excellence – The capability to break down complicated cases, and integrate information from Neurosurgery, Neuro-Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Genetic/Molecular profiling, and Molecular Oncology to design and implement a personalized treatment regimen, making adjustments as the data dictates.
Communication – A diagnosis of GBM (or other brain cancers) is devastating for the patient and the patient’s family. The vast majority of patients have never heard of GBM, and as soon as they search the internet, unbounded despair is the usual reaction. There are lots of questions, or quite often, difficulty in even formulating a question. A NO who responds in a timely manner and opens a respectful dialog with the patient is invaluable even if the NO is not yet certain of the treatment path ahead.
Knowledge of Molecular Oncology – Primary gliomas are thankfully rather rare, but the spectrum of all cancers is much broader. Thus, it makes sense to consider tools from the totality of Molecular Oncology in designing brain cancer protocols. And yet, we meet several NOs each week who do not display facility in this regard.
Teamwork/Open-Mindedness – The world is simply a better place if talented individuals work together to share information/data regarding case management. Sadly, we see NOs every week who rebuff offers of peer-to-peer consultation divergent from SoC. Dr. Alnahhas has consistently interacted with Team Julie members over the past two years with great effect.
Knowledge of Research programs – Brain cancer research is an area not overly blessed with successful clinical translation because it is darn hard…honestly, the most difficult area that we have encountered in more than 30 years of therapeutics development in just about every therapeutic area. But you can’t hit the ball unless you swing at it. Motivated scientists and physicians do swing, and a lot can be learned from their successes and failures, if one takes the time to read and communicate. Dr. Alnahhas is early in his career with a jammed clinical schedule, but he finds time to be on top of the literature. He sends us new papers regularly and is always interested in considering breaking research that we share before it is widely known. Stimulating conversations follow. In addition, Dr. Alnahhas has established an early career leadership position in communicating important research results to the brain cancer community via the Society for Neuro-Oncology podcast.
Final Thought: Celebrate Excellence
If we were building a Neuro-Oncology program from scratch, one of our first phone calls would be to Dr. Alnahhas.
At MissionGBM we are confident in this statement because we have the rather unique perspective of being a longtime Biotech entrepreneur/executive/investor and drug developer now confronting the reality of also being a spouse and caregiver for a GBM patient, who has enjoyed two remarkable years since diagnosis. None of this would have been possible without Dr. Alnahhas and the other incredible members of Team Julie.
About that Pledge/Subscribe button that Substack automatically inserts at the bottom of each post: We don’t control the addition of the button, and we can’t prevent it. Unless Substack someday alters its policies allowing free subscriptions, MissionGBM will always be available to readers at no charge.