Pursuing a PhD at the University of Kentucky, Sherif El-Refai divides his time between the doctoral program and conducting lung cancer research at the Black Lab. Sherif El-Refai also serves the Markey Cancer Center as an oncology pharmacist.
In recent news, the Markey Cancer Center published an article about an investigational medical device that received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for clinical trials. The center’s Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic surgical director and the university’s chief of anesthesiology critical care played crucial roles in developing the Exatherm Total Body Hyperthermia System (Exatherm-TBH) to treat late-stage lung cancer.
Exatherm-TBH delivers heat throughout the body to eliminate cancerous cells. Unlike traditional therapies that only treat affected areas, the system focuses on total body hyperthermia with the use of a perfusion circuit. This allows medical professionals to circulate blood throughout the vascular system at a specific temperature. Because healthy cells have the ability to protect themselves from heightened body temperatures, researchers expect that Exatherm-TBH will be able to attack diseased cells without harming healthy ones.
Dr. Sherif El-Refai, a clinical oncology pharmacist at Markey Cancer Center, comes to his work with a research and business strategy focus. Dr. Sherif El-Refai received his PhD in pharmaceutical science from the University of Kentucky, where he conducted translational research into cancer treatment both locally and nationwide.
A multidisciplinary form of investigation, translational research operates at the intersection of laboratory work and clinical practice. It begins with the development of innovative therapeutics, after which it identifies appropriate test patients and administers the drug in a clinically responsible manner. This methodology represents a relatively new advancement in cancer research, prior efforts having been largely confined to the lab. However, recent progress in translational research and the development of lifesaving drugs, including groundbreaking treatments for breast cancer, have prompted an increase in funding for translational programs.
At the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center, the integrated Drug Discovery, Delivery and Translational Therapeutics Program connects researchers and oncologists from the university's medical school as well as its top-ranked College of Pharmacy and its College of Engineering. Its efforts largely focus on rural populations in Kentucky, particularly those living in underserved regions of Appalachia. The only cancer center serving this population, it has received national recognition from the National Rural Health Association for its efforts in developing culturally connected research initiatives.
Sherif El-Refai, who possesses a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has held a number of research and volunteer positions throughout the course of his academic career.