El Rayes web

The DOM is delighted that Bassel El-Rayes, M.D., will serve as the next Director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. He will also serve as the deputy director for the The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB - effective March 1, 2022. Dr. El-Rayes is the John Kauffman Family Endowed Professor for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Emory University School of Medicine where he serves as Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology and Vice Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology. He also serves as Director of Clinical and Translational Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program and Associate Cancer Center Director for Clinical Research in Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

A graduate of the American University of Beirut, where he received the B.S. and M.D. degrees, Dr. El-Rayes trained in internal medicine and in hematology and oncology at Wayne State University, where he also served as Chief Medical Resident and Chief Fellow. After serving on the faculty at Wayne State and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Dr. El-Rayes joined the Winship Cancer Institute and Emory University School of Medicine. At Emory, he built the gastrointestinal oncology program, training several fellows and developing faculty who are now Associate Professors; he received the Emory School of Medicine Mentoring Award in 2019. He also led the Clinical Trials Office, increasing the number of people enrolled annually in clinical trials from 400 to 1,000 people and providing a foundational element of Winship’s successful application to be named Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. 


Dr. El-Rayes has been described by patients and colleagues as “the most compassionate physician I have known.” He has built specialized programs for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. His research aims to improve survival from gastrointestinal malignancies by modulating the tumor microenvironment to increase responsiveness to drug therapies. His work is supported in part by grants from the National Cancer Institute to develop and test novel therapies for pancreatic and neuroendocrine malignancies. Dr. El-Rayes has published extensively on the use and effectiveness of therapies for gastrointestinal malignancies, as well as on novel prognostic markers. 

Dr. El-Rayes will succeed Kelly Godby, M.D., who has served as Interim Division Director since October, and Ravi Bhatia, M.D., who served as Division Director and Deputy Director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2014. Since 2014, the Division of Hematology and Oncology has nearly doubled in size to over 40 faculty, and its research programs have grown several-fold to nearly $10 million in extramural funding. Dr. Godby will continue playing a leading role in our programs to treat hematologic malignancies and Dr. Bhatia will develop further UAB’s outstanding research programs in the biology of hematopoiesis and blood cancers.