Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine,
Columbia University

Cancer-Types Supported

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Research Projects

In the vast landscape of medical research, Dr. Azra Raza has distinguished herself as a trailblazer, particularly in the fields of hematology and oncology. 

Her career, spanning several decades, is characterized by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and an unwavering commitment to advancing our understanding of cancer, with a specific focus on early detection and prevention research. Her research seeks to identify elusive biomarkers that serve as harbingers of cancer, allowing for timely intervention when the disease is most amenable to treatment. Dr. Raza’s pioneering work in cancer research includes the formulation of the first cell theory, a paradigm-shifting concept that recharacterizes our understanding of cancer progression at the cellular level. Her theory emphasized the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of cancer cells, challenging conventional notions and paving the way for more targeted and personalized approaches to cancer treatment. A significant aspect of Dr. Raza’s research involves the study of giant cells in the context of cancer.

Her work has shed light on the role of these abnormally large cells, unraveling their unique characteristics and implications for cancer development and progression. Understanding the significance of giant cells has opened new avenues for therapeutic interventions and diagnostic strategies in the battle against cancer. In short, her work is focused on finding cancer through the first cell before cancer finds you.Through rigorous investigations, Dr. Raza and her research team have illuminated pathways and genetic signatures associated with the earliest stages of various cancers. Their work extends beyond mere identification; it lays the foundation for the development of diagnostic tools capable of detecting minute molecular changes from the first cancer cell that precede the manifestation of overt symptoms. In doing so, Dr. Raza envisions a future where routine screenings incorporate cutting-edge technologies, such as advanced imaging and liquid biopsy techniques, revolutionizing the landscape of early cancer detection.

By pushing the boundaries of diagnostic tools, she envisions a paradigm shift towards proactive and personalized healthcare, where individuals can benefit from tailored screening approaches based on their unique genetic makeup.


Dr. Raza is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the MDS Center at Columbia University in New York, NY. She started her research in Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) in 1982 and moved to Rush University, Chicago, Illinois in 1992, where she was the Charles Arthur Weaver Professor in Oncology and Director, Division of Myeloid Diseases. The MDS Program, along with a Tissue Repository containing more than 50,000 samples from MDS and acute leukemia patients was successfully relocated to the University of Massachusetts in 2004 and to Columbia University in 2010.

Before moving to New York, Dr. Raza was the Chief of Hematology Oncology and the Gladys Smith Martin Professor of Oncology at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. She has published the results of her laboratory research and clinical trials in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Blood, Cancer, Cancer Research, the British Journal of Hematology, Leukemia, and Leukemia Research. Dr. Raza serves on numerous national and international panels as a reviewer, consultant, and advisor and is the recipient of a number of awards.


Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., D.PHIL Columbia University

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Media From Azra Raza, M.D.

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Research Focus Areas

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