St. Luke’s official announcement of

Philip A. Salem, M.D. Chair in Cancer Research

Published, March 9, 2010


Cancer Pioneer

St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (St. Luke’s) announces the Philip A. Salem, M.D., Chair in Cancer Research, established to honor Dr. Salem’s contributions to cancer medicine.

“It’s very humbling to receive such an honor,” said Dr. Salem, director of St. Luke’s Cancer Research Program. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to treat cancer patients and I hope this endowment will pave the way for future physicians to research and discover new treatments.”

For patients such as Dallas businessman Daryl Snadon, Dr. Salem’s commitment and compassion offers extended years of life and hope. Snadon, who received pancreatic cancer treatment more than 10 years ago at St. Luke’s, now leads a cancer-free life, thanks to Dr. Salem.

“It’s hard to find a doctor like him,” said Snadon, a principal fundraiser for the Salem Chair in Cancer Research. “His concern and unique approach to patient care is inspiring to others. I’m grateful that he and his team helped me become cancer-free. I hope his legacy will help other physicians and patients.”

Dr. Salem began treating cancer 42 years ago. He received his medical degree from the American University of Beirut College of Medicine in 1965. He began his career in cancer research and treatment as a fellow in medical oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York in 1968. Two years later, he spent an additional year of fellowship at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In September, 1971, Dr. Salem returned to Beirut and joined the American University of Beirut Medical Center as director of its cancer research and treatment program. He continued to serve in this capacity until 1985. Before joining St. Luke’s in 1991, Dr. Salem was professor of cancer medicine and research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“Dr. Salem’s vast experience in cancer research is a great testament to the extensive body of knowledge that the St. Luke’s medical staff is known for worldwide,” said Margaret M. Van Bree, CEO, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, and senior vice president, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System. “St. Luke’s is fortunate to have such an accomplished physician as Dr. Salem.”

Dr. Salem has been recognized for his contributions to medicine all over the world. In the early 70s, he was among the first researchers to demonstrate that a chronic repeated infectious insult to the gastrointestinal tract may cause inflammation that could in turn eventually lead to cancer. Further, he discovered that treating these infections with antibiotics at an early stage could actually prevent and reverse the development of cancer. His pioneering work with “chemoprevention” has led to some of today’s research that focuses on isolating and treating such precancerous infections.

In 1992, as director of St. Luke’s Cancer Research Program, Dr. Salem led a team of St. Luke’s investigators in collaboration with the Texas Community Oncology Network from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The alliance resulted in the introduction of more than 30 clinical cancer research trials for St. Luke’s physicians and patients. The recipient of numerous honors, including recognition from the presidents of Lebanon and Italy and the U.S. Senate, and he has achieved national and international acknowledgment. A book on his life and ideas has been published and two other books are currently in production. Dr. Salem continues to serve as director of Cancer Research at St. Luke’s and principal investigator for many of the research projects at St. Luke’s, including those on the prevention of breast cancer.