Memphis Magazine’s
Top Docs  2009 - July Issue


Just what the
Doctor Ordered

Every great city demands great doctors.
Although adequate funding and state-of-
the-art facilities play an important role in
developing viable medical care, it is the
ingenuity and dedication of great medical
minds that truly raise the bar. In light of this,
we present a list of the top doctors in
Memphis. The following physicians have
dedicated their life's work to medical
research and/or treatment, and they offer
their services to patients all over the greater
Memphis area.

Barry Boston, MD
Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary & Prostate Cancer

Raymond Osarogiagbon, MD
Esophageal, Lung, & Gastrointestinal Cancer,
Sickle Cell Disease

Furhan Yunus, MD
Multiple Myeloma, Lymphoma

Dr. Furhan Yunus has called Memphis
home for the past 20 years. Born and
raised in Pakistan, he immigrated to the
U.S. “because I wanted to be in the best
medical system in the world.”
 
After receiving his medical training at the
University of Tennessee and the University
of Arizona, Yunus returned to Memphis,
where he is now chief medical officer of the
UT Cancer Institute (UTCI) and director of
the UT Blood and Marrow Transplant
Center. With almost 20 oncologists on
staff, UTCI is the largest adult cancer
service provider in the region, currently
handling some 5,000 new cancer patients
each year. The transplant center treats
hematological malignancies or cancers
of the bloodstream, such as leukemia and
lymphomas. A different division of UT is
responsible for solid organ transplants.
 
Over the years, Yunus has witnessed important changes in his field.
 
“Hematology, oncology, and transplantation are some of the fastest-changing subspecialties, because
of the huge amount of basic research and the increasing number of clinical trials,” he says. “In addition,
cancer research in general garners the largest share of the financial pie, and that has led to dramatic
advances in understanding the basic biology of cancer.”
 
The result is a significant improvement in the way cancers are now treated. “In the past 15 or 20 years,
we have gone from a very simplistic way of treating cancer by chemotherapy only, to giving patients
designer – or ‘smart’ – drugs that are genetically engineered, says Yunus. “The drugs are individually
tailored for each patient, so two lung cancer patients may get two completely different types of treatment.
And because they are individualized, based on the patient’s genetic makeup, they have little or no
side effects.”
 
These new treatments are also much more convenient for the patient. Instead of checking into a hospital
for several weeks of chemotherapy, patients can now take a pill at home, “just like taking a pill for high
blood pressure,” says Yunus.
 
He is cautiously optimistic about the future of cancer treatments. “We have been much more successful
at treating hematological cancers like leukemia. Even if we are not curing [the patients], we are at least
letting them live much longer than in the past. That is probably one of the most gratifying surprises, in terms
of the advances that science has made, and we have helped deliver those new treatments to patients here.”
 
He gives an example. Years ago, a patient diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a particularly aggressive
type of cancer, might live three years after diagnosis. “On average, most patients are living six or seven
years,” says Yunus, “and I have patients even living ten years or longer.”
 
Research on solid forms of cancer isn’t progressing quite as rapidly, but there is still hope.
 
“Science is working at a steady pace,” says Yunus. “Someday we can make cancer a chronic disease
instead of a fatal one.”

 



 UTCI SUPPORT: Recognized as a significant donor and supporter, The University of Tennessee Cancer Institute will participate in the ground breaking, April 22 for the American Cancer Society Harrah’s Hope Lodge at 718 Union Avenue. The facility will provide temporary housing for out-of-town cancer patients.

RENDERING COURTESY OF THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
Society Proceeds
With Hope Lodge


ERIC SMITH | The Daily News

Out-of-town cancer patients traveling to Memphis for chemotherapy or radiation treatments will soon have a free place to stay, giving them one less thing to worry about during their visits.


The Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society on April 22 will break ground on the $8.5 million Harrah’s Hope Lodge, a 30,480-square-foot facility providing 40 private suites for adult cancer patients.


The three-story building will rise on 1.09 acres at 718 Union Ave., due east of Sun Studio at the northeast corner of Union and Marshall avenues in the medical district. ACS this week filed a $4.8 million permit application with the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement to build the facility.

Leighanne Hart, capital campaign director for the American Cancer Society, said the organization has raised 85 percent of the facility’s cost, the required milestone before the board of directors would give the green light to break ground.

Construction should start the first week of May and wrap up next summer.

Hart, who called the project her “heart and soul,” has been working on bringing a Hope Lodge here for about five years.

She said there is a huge need for this type of facility in Memphis.

“We receive calls in our office daily of people coming from out of town,” Hart said. “They have nowhere to stay and they’re calling us for help. Right now we have nothing.”

 

Just Like Home

Patients coming to the Lodge can stay free of charge as long as they’re receiving treatment at a local hospital or clinic. Admittance is granted on a first-come, first-served basis; it will be administered by an advisory group of physicians from hospitals and clinics throughout Shelby County.

The average length of stay at the lodges is five days to six weeks, Hart said, although she noted that a patient at the Nashville lodge once stayed 366 days while undergoing clinical trials at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Vans will be available at the Lodge to shuttle patients to their appointments, or even on daily errands such as the drugstore or grocery store.

The facility’s first floor will have common areas such as kitchens, a living room, a library, patio and garden. The top two floors will have private rooms for patients and caregivers.

“We try to do everything we can to take care of the patient while they’re here,” Hart said.

The Harrah’s Hope Lodge will have a full-time live-in manager who is on call 24/7, a full-time and assistant manager during the day, a facilities manager, plus housekeeping staff and van drivers.

UTCI is proud to welcome
Alva Bowen Weir, III, MD
 

We are pleased to announce our newest
addition, Dr. Alva Weir. Author of Handbook
of Medicine in Developing Countries
, When
Your Doctor Has Bad News
and A Christian
Doctor’s Guide To Living and Serving
,
Dr. Weir brings his extensive Hematology/
Oncology expertise to UTCI and the
Mid-South.

 

The inspiring physicians and devoted staff of
the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute
come from all over the world. Our national
reputation as one of the finest cancer centers
grows every day, and with the addition
of Dr. Weir it further shows our commitment
to comprehensive cancer care and treatment.

 

Dr Yunus

 Dr. Furhan Yunus nominated for a 2008 Health Care Heroes Award

We are pleased to congratulate Dr. Furhan Yunus on his nomination for a 2008 Health Care Heroes Award. This award, sponsored by First Tennessee Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee and Memphis Business Journal, seeks to honor those organizations and individuals who epitomize the spirit embodied in the word “hero”, whether they are doctors, nurses, physical therapists, employee benefit managers or community outreach programs. Too many of these individuals and organizations never receive the recognition they deserve. The goals of the program are to recognize excellence, promote innovation, encourage emulation of successful programs, educate the general public, contribute to the enhancement of the value and quality of health care and ultimately, give recognition to those deserving.


Dr. Goohra

2008 Celgene Future Leaders in Hematology Award

We are pleased to congratulate Dr. Salil Goorha
on his nomination for a 2008 Celgene Future
Leaders in Hematology Award. The award
presentation will be held on Saturday,
December 6, 2008 in San Francisco, California.

 

Dr. Goorha was nominated for this award by
Raymond Osarogiagbon, MD, for his commitment to excellence and the potential to make significant contributions in the field of clinical hematology during his career. The Celgene Corporation will provide a $10,000 grant to the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute in Dr. Goorha’s name.

 

Congratulations on this significant achievement!



News & Events

Save the Date: 6th Annual Mid-South Cancer Symposium

The 6th Annual Mid-South Cancer Symposium will be held November 7, 2008, at the FedEx institute of Technology in Memphis, Tennessee. This symposium, like those in the past, will focus on a particular malignancy: head and neck cancer.

Download PDF for more information
Register online

UTCI News&Events

New Attending Physician

In July 2008, the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute (UTCI) welcomes one of our newest physicians, Dr. Jeffery Allen. Dr. Allen is no stranger to UTCI as he has spent the last three years participating in UTCI’s fellowship program. Not only will Dr. Allen attend to patients at UTCI facilities but he will also be pursuing development of a phase-I clinical trial program, spending time in UTCI’s clinics, helping teach and instruct new fellows as well as various translational research collaborations. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Allen.

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