Yusuf Hannun was chosen from an incredible field of applicants drawn from around the nation to serve as the new Director of Stony Brook University Cancer Center. He will also be appointed Professor of Medicine, officially joining the faculty on March 1, 2012.
Hannun comes to Stony Brook from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), where he served as Professor of Medicine and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, also serving as the Ralph Hirschmann Chair of Biochemistry, Director of the Division of Basic Sciences, Associate Dean for Research, and as Deputy Director of the Hollings Cancer Center. He has seen the creation of a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center from its inception.
Hannun received his M.D. with distinction from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, remained at American University to perform an internship and residency in internal medicine, and then immigrated to the United States to serve a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Duke University. He performed post-doctoral training at Duke with Professor Robert Bell, and then joined the faculty at Duke, rising rapidly through the ranks to become the Wayne Rundles Professor of Medicine. In 1998, Hannun moved to South Carolina as Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and then became Deputy Director of the Cancer Center ten years ago. During that time the MUSC Cancer Center underwent a remarkable transformation, becoming one of only approximately 60 NCI-designated Cancer Centers in the nation.
Hannun has made a huge mark on the science of medicine. His work focuses on the lipid mediators of cancer cell signaling, studies that have also impacted other biomedical disciplines including neurobiology, inflammation, and metabolism. He discovered the signaling functions of the class of lipids known as the sphingolipids. His group investigates the physiological and pathological roles played by these unusual molecules with names such
as sphingomyelin, sphingosine, and ceramide, substances that are only fat soluble and hence very difficult to study. Yet, with his development of new analytical techniques, Hannun and his colleagues have discovered vital roles for these molecules. His work is highly supported by the National Institutes of Health; he currently leads three NCI R01 awards, holds an NIH Merit Award, is PI of a program project grant and is co-investigator on a lipid signaling core grant.
During his career, Hannun has contributed to more than 460 scholarly publications, has delivered 17 plenary session talks at a wide variety of scientific meetings, and as a measure of his impact on science, his H-index is 94, in essence, indicating that 94 of his papers have been cited a minimum of 94 times each, a remarkable achievement. He is one of the top 100 highly cited investigators in biology and biochemistry according to ISI.
Hannun has also made an impact on science through education; during his career he has mentored 40 post-doctoral fellows and 20 Ph.D. students. In recognition of his accomplishments, he has been elected to a number of prestigious societies, including the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also awarded the prestigious Avanti Award for Lipid Research from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.