Tribute: Jean Khoury

H. Jean Khoury, esteemed cancer researcher, physician, and professor, died May 22 after a yearlong battle with cancer. 

An international leader in hematological malignancies, particularly chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), acute leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), Khoury joined Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in 2004 as director of the Leukemia Service and associate professor in the Emory School of Medicine. In 2009, he was promoted to professor and director of the Emory School of Medicine Division of Hematology in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology. He was named to the R. Randall Rollins Chair in Oncology in 2010. 

A native of Beirut, Lebanon, Khoury came to Emory from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served on the faculty after completing a fellowship in hematology-oncology. He earned his medical degree from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, and completed a residency in internal medicine at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. 

“While we all knew Jean as an outstanding clinician who was beloved by his patients, and a true innovator in treatment, what he kept more quiet was his impact on colleagues and trainees as a mentor. The list of people from all over the world who have reached out to me speaking about his role in their career development is so impressive. He was an amazing teacher and colleague, and that is what drew people to him,” said Sagar Lonial, chair of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology and chief medical officer at Winship. 

Khoury pioneered the development of personalized treatment for CML patients and better approaches to improve quality of life for survivors. His research focused on drug development in leukemia and MDS, genomic abnormalities in leukemia, development of cost-effective practice models, and outcome analysis of bone marrow transplant. He conducted several leukemia and bone marrow transplant clinical trials, including pivotal trials that led to approval of drugs such as imatinib, dasatinib, and nilotinib. Khoury received the Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholarship, allowing establishment of the Hematological Disorders Tissue Bank at Emory, which now contains annotated germline and somatic samples from more than eight hundred patients with various hematological disorders. 

Khoury is survived by his wife, Angela, and three children, Mikhail, Iman, and Alya.

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