Gabi Hanna, MD, works as the Executive Director of the Duke Preclinical Translational Research Unit (PTRU). Along with Chief Director Greg Palmer, PhD, Dr. Hanna’s work focuses on translating research from the early stages of research to clinical trials.
Recently Dr. Hanna and his team have been working to establish a Drug Development Acceleration Consortium in partnership with the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, RTI International, and the Cleveland Clinic. This collaboration will focus on filling drug development gaps in academia to accelerate the translational pathway including clinical trials within academic settings. Dr. Hanna believes working at a major university and research institution like Duke provides access to the knowledge and resources that make these cutting-edge projects to develop new therapies possible.
“I have always been involved in research,” he said. “Being in a translational space has allowed me to utilize my expertise as a physician and a researcher and bridge those two areas.”
Dr. Hanna has been leading the PTRU for four years. He came to Duke 12 years ago to work alongside Dr. Mark Dewhirst and other accomplished researchers to lead GlaxoSmithKline to evaluate and advance new cancer therapies. Dr. Hanna and his team work with many of the departments within the School of Medicine, and he enjoys working with the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) because of all the services and expertise it offers across the university.
“CTSI shares our mission to advance translational research, and their team has the vision to work beyond the traditional silo model in academia and adapt to a multidisciplinary approach,” Dr. Hanna said. “There are great experts, staff, and leaders on the team that understand our model and work to help make us successful.”
Outside his work with the PTRU, Dr. Hanna serves as a chair of the North Carolina Society of Physician Entrepreneurs. He works with entrepreneurs in the life and science fields to help bring innovative ideas to patients. Many of the people he mentors are working in biotechnology and drug development. Dr. Hanna sees this work as a further extension of his professional work, to capture innovation and accelerate translation to improve healthcare and patient outcomes.
“Translating knowledge to a tangible product that can benefit patients should be one of the highest priorities in academia,” he said. “It’s difficult to predict the outcome of research, but if you are determined to reach your goal to improve care, you will get there.”