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Price Fellow (2008-10):
Ziad Kanaan, MD: Price Fellow

Dr. Ziad KanaanA native of Beirut, Lebanon, Ziad Kanaan, MD, joined the Price Institute as a research fellow in the Digestive Surgery Research Laboratory in 2008.

Kanaan, who received his medical doctorate from American University of Beirut in 2006, has always had an interest in medicine. While in medical school, he also discovered a passion for research and academia. "I realized the rewarding aspects of becoming a physician in touching people's lives and affecting change in medicine through clinical work and academic research."

He says the program at U of L's Price Institute was a perfect fit, because it allowed him to further his experience in basic research. "The fellowship provided me with a wonderful opportunity to work with nationally known mentors in academic surgery and to earn my PhD in physiology and biophysics."

Kanaan hopes his current genetic research will make a difference in the lives of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim of his research is to trace the pathways by which colonic inflammation progresses into invasive IBD-associated colorectal cancer in some individuals with Crohn's colitis or ulcerative colitis. His focus is on the role of microRNAs. MicroRNAs are regulators of gene expression. When these "regulators" malfunction, they may trigger abnormal cell development, proliferation and, ultimately, cancerous tumors.

"Identification of such mircoRNAs may ultimately provide diagnostic and/or therapeutic targets for early detection and treatment of IBD-associated colorectal cancer," Kanaan says.

In his free time, Kanaan enjoys swimming, soccer, and biking. "But I especially cherish spending quality time with my wife and family." After he earns his PhD, Kanaan looks forward to completing his general surgery residency and colorectal surgery fellowship.

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