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A Day in the Life: Joining Forces with Others

November 23, 2023

December 2023

In this issue, Chadi Nabhan, MD, MBA, talks about collaborating with cancer centers and health care systems around the world, producing podcasts, and mentoring others. Dr. Nabhan is a hematologist and medical oncologist at Caris Life Sciences.

Chadi Nabhan, MD, MBA 

Chadi Nabhan, MD, MBA


Institution: Caris Life Sciences

Title: SVP and Chairman of Caris Precision Oncology Alliance

Specialty: Hematology and Medical Oncology

Years practicing: 20 years

Some weeks, the days blur together with meetings that seem to have no end, some on Zoom, others on Teams, and the remainder in person. This week I’m not traveling for work, a welcome reprieve from airports, Ubers, and the TSA.

I have worked in diverse health care settings, including large academic centers and health care systems, but currently I am a senior vice president and the chairman of the Precision Oncology Alliance (POA) at Caris Life Sciences. My role is to collaborate with cancer centers and health care systems across the U.S. and around the globe to build and expand a network focusing on precision oncology, biomarkers, artificial intelligence, and big data research. By joining forces with others, the hope is to improve patient outcomes through research and trials. I am also a father, husband, devoted son, author, and creator and host of the podcast, Healthcare Unfiltered.

5:45 a.m.: Despite my usual intermittent sleep, I manage to be fully awake; the weather is extra hot and muggy as I drive to the gym. I try to be there for a solid hour when not traveling. I consider this hour a reward to myself before long days of meetings and emails.

7:30 a.m.: My workout has concluded, and I am thankful for the time to clear my head before the start of the workday. My workout usually includes a playlist, a podcast, or sharpening my Russian with my workout friends. I decided to take Russian when the COVID-19 pandemic started as a test for myself. I have many friends in the Chicago area from Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the old Soviet Union who challenged that I’d never be able to learn it. No good-natured dare left unturned.

8:00 a.m.: My first call is with a mentee who is working on a manuscript and wants my opinion. Nothing is more rewarding than helping others and paying it forward. Others have helped and mentored me, and I consider mentoring a privilege. In fact, I started the Fellowship Forum for the POA so hematology/oncology fellows are provided with ample opportunity for research, mentorship, publication, and networking.

Dr. Nabhan interviews Dr. Robert Califf, FDA commissioner, for his podcast Healthcare Unfiltered.
Dr. Nabhan interviews Dr. Robert
Califf, FDA commissioner, for his
podcast
Healthcare Unfiltered. 

9:00 a.m.: I’m excited about this call – I am being interviewed on a podcast about my book that was released in February: Toxic Exposure: The True Story Behind the Monsanto Trials and the Search for Justice. I have given several interviews about the book and am appearing on the Target: Cancer Podcast with Sanjay Juneja, MD, to discuss my involvement in the first three trials against Monsanto and their Roundup product that is linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was a 45-minute interview, and I had a blast.

10:00 a.m.: Now it’s my turn to tape a podcast. I started the Healthcare Unfiltered podcast several years ago and have been blessed with many loyal listeners and viewers. Today’s podcast is a treat. I get to interview Robert Califf, MD, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to discuss drug shortages in the U.S. I learned a lot and was impressed by his career path.

Hosting a podcast isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’m constantly seeking new and timely content. I also host the Caris Molecular Minute Podcast, which focuses on the intersection of precision oncology and clinical care. I really enjoy talking to people and making human connections. Podcast interviews help educate me and listeners; it also provides others with a platform to share their own accomplishments. It’s a lot of work, but I find it very rewarding.

11:00 a.m.: I have a meeting with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Committee on Quality. This is a great call where we discuss certain guidelines and how they can be modified to align with new data. I am a board-certified hematologist and medical oncologist with a focus on lymphoid malignancies. This ASH meeting allows me to contribute to guidelines that can help hematologists deliver the best care but also lets me connect with colleagues around the country.

Dr. Nabhan’s book, Toxic Exposure, is available from Amazon.
Dr. Nabhan’s book, Toxic Exposure,
is available from Amazon.
 

Noon: Zoom launches seamlessly, so I’m on time for an important meeting with a large cancer center on the East Coast to discuss precision oncology and big data research. My presentation was attended by 10 faculty members and leaders with various research interests, and it went well. I’m a big fan of having Zoom cameras turned on because I like to see who I’m speaking to and feel that connection. 

12:45 p.m.: I grab a quick cup of coffee to help me stay alert during these back-to-back Zoom calls.

1:00 p.m.: I attend an internal meeting where we focus on how to optimize our operational strategies to assure efficiency and minimize waste. My role has clinical, strategic, and operational components. Expanding the POA network requires in-depth thinking on how to achieve research objectives in an effective manner. Members of the alliance meet frequently based on the disease area of interest, and we discuss concepts, studies, and publications. 

1:30 p.m.: I interview a candidate who is interested in joining my team. The role is for a regional senior medical director assuring coverage of research activities across cancer centers in that region. Several senior medical directors report to me, and I am grateful for their work ethic, dedication, and knowledge. The interview went well, and the candidate moved on to meet other team members.

2:00 p.m.: I collaborate with the Department of Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences at the University of South Carolina on various projects to evaluate adverse events and outcomes research. We discussed two manuscripts we are working on and a new project we are contemplating.

2:30 p.m.: I have a Zoom meeting with the genitourinary oncology group at a major academic center on the West Coast. They are interested in precision oncology and biomarker research, and my goal was to explain how we can collaborate.

3:30 p.m.: I work a bit on the 2024 budget. Every entity nowadays seems to be resource constrained, and forecasting what might be needed months from now is challenging. I’m supposed to predict the financial needs of the unit I oversee for the next calendar year, including meetings, travel, new hires, and other items.

4:00 p.m.: Today is the quarterly POA Translational Disease Group Meeting. The meeting is usually attended by 20 to 40 faculty members from institutions within the POA. We had 35 faculty on the video call, and the discussion was both rigorous and fun. A few of us take photos and put them on social media. Somehow, my picture always ends up with my eyes closed.

5:00 p.m.: I have a meeting with our chief scientific officer about various products and laboratory operations. Understanding our laboratory work impacts how we address needs for POA members. I’m also starting to get hungry.

6:00 p.m.: My last call for the day is with a cancer center director on the West Coast. The center is expanding into various community sites, and our discussion focuses on how we can work on research operations at the smaller community sites outside of the main campus. Community research is critical, and I’m proud of my role in supporting research equity by making it available to all patients.

7:00 p.m.: I have dinner with my family. Today’s dinner is tabbouli and kibbeh – both are Syrian dishes and are my favorites. I was born in Syria, so there is some bias there.

7:30 p.m.: A warm cup of tea is mandatory after dinner. I usually read a book while doing this. Though my usual reads are nonfiction, I am reading the latest book by Harlan Coben, one of my favorite mystery authors. I check X, formerly known as Twitter, to make sure I didn’t miss any major arguments on that entertaining social medium.

8:00 p.m.: Checking my emails – I must empty my inbox if I want to have reasonable sleep. I’m a remedial member of the clean inbox club! My favorite emails today are from fellows who are grateful for the POA Fellowship Forum initiative. I review my schedule for the following day to be sure that I am ready and prepared.

8:30 p.m.: I check on my kids and their homework to see if they need any help. Frankly, I’m not sure I can do much to help, as what they learn nowadays in high school is not easy for me to explain. We chat a bit about their day, the good and the bad. I taught them that there is never a “bad” day, and we agreed to label our days as “good” and “not as good.” I hope I’m doing something right.

9:00 p.m.: Netflix and time to unwind. I love legal documentaries, so I try to find these on the far too many streaming services that my house is subscribed to.

10:30pm: I head to bed but first check social media activities on X and Instagram, always sources of education and amusement, then off to sleep before the next day starts.

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