Sparkle of Hope

Sparkle of Hope

Miguel Abboud

Issue #5: January 2017
Interview with Dr. Miguel Abboud
Chairman Department of Pediatrics
American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC)

1. What are some of the CCCL achievements that you are most proud of since its founding 15 years ago?
The most impressive achievement has been the development of a multidisciplinary team that is responsible for patients care, education and research. This team of physicians, nurses, scientists, administrators, support personnel, and volunteers is unique in our region and among the best in the world. As a result of the team effort and patient centered care, we have treated a very large number of children with over 80% success rates. This success is a testament to the dedication of these individuals, the collaboration with St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the environment at AUBMC. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the fundraising team, and the commitment of the CCCL Board and donors

2. What drives you to continue to fight for the CCCL cause?
In one word the children. They are truly amazing fighters and deserve the best from all of us. How to improve their care and make sure that all children have access to the best care is what keeps me up at night.

3. What are the latest medical achievements at CCCL?
There have been many achievements. if I am to mention a few first would be the fact that we can now provide bone marrow or stem cell transplants to most children who need them and have introduced haploidentical transplants. These are transplants that are only half matched, so we can transplant a child who does not have a fully matched donor. Another achievement has been the introduction of a research protocol to type the sensitivity of tumors to different drugs. In addition, several important research projects have been completed. These achievements are in no small part a result of the transformation of the AUBMC under the 20/20 vision. Another result of this transformation is the availability of new technologies such as IMRT that allow delivery of radiation therapy with less toxicity to patients.

4. What are the latest medical achievements about cancer internationally?
The most important achievement in my opinion has been the introduction of targeted therapies and immunotherapies. These new modalities promise to revolutionize cancer care. In the field of pediatrics, the introduction of CAR-T cells is a clear example. These are engineered blood immune cells from the patient that recognize and kill leukemia cells. They have offered hope for many children who had no other options. These cells have also been recently designed for brain tumors and other cancers.

5. Where do you position the CCCL today in comparison with renowned cancer centers worldwide?
The Center is an internationally renowned center of excellence for the treatment of children’ cancer. Under the leadership of Dr. Hassan El Solh, the Center is now the coordinating site for a large international group, the POEM group, that is working to develop protocols and improve care in over 26 countries. This is a clear recognition of the Center’s excellence, innovation and leadership.

6. If you would like to write one sentence about the center to celebrate its 15 years anniversary, what would it be?
This centers an oasis of hope for Lebanon and the region, it has saved the lives of countless children and supported their families during trying times it cannot thrive without our devotion, commitment and collaboration.