Hussein Tawbi


Professor and Deputy Chair, Melanoma Medical Oncology
Co-director of the McDougall Brain Metastasis Clinic and Research Program
MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Tawbi is Professor and Deputy Chair of the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Tawbi joined MD Anderson in 2015 and in addition to being a melanoma clinician, he develops and conducts multiple clinical trials with translational endpoints in melanoma and immunotherapy. He also co-founded and co-directs the Andrew M. McDougall Brain Metastasis Clinic and Research Program, a multi-disciplinary clinic to evaluate, treat, and develop novel therapeutic strategies for patients with brain metastases.

Dr. Tawbi obtained his MD in 2001 from the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. Dr. Tawbi completed his training in Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh and joined the faculty ranks at the University of Pittsburgh as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. His clinical training was coupled with formal instruction in Clinical and Translational Research that culminated in a PhD degree in Clinical and Translational Science in 2011. 

Dr. Tawbi joined the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as Associate Professor in the Departments of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Investigational Cancer Therapeutics in 2015, and served as Director of Melanoma Clinical Research and Early Drug Development until 2022. The primary focus of his research has been early phase studies of novel agents in melanoma, and has designed, and conducted several Phase I and Phase II studies this disease. Specifically, he participated in the early studies of targeted agents (vemurafenib, dabrafenib, and trametinib) and immunotherapy agents (nivolumab and pembrolizumab). Given that patients with melanoma brain metastases have been traditionally excluded from clinical trials, Dr. Tawbi has participated, conducted and led multicenter Phase II studies dedicated to this population including the practice-changing Checkmate-204 demonstrating the high rate of durable intracranial responses with ipilimumab and nivolumab in melanoma brain metastases. Dr. Tawbi also participates in and serves on Steering Committees of global clinical trials including COMBI-i, TRICOTEL, RELATIVITY-098, in addition to leading RELATIVITY-047 which has recently established the combination of relatlimab and nivolumab as first line therapy in metastatic melanoma. 

Dr. Tawbi has received multiple awards and honors including Irwin H. Krakoff Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, Division of Cancer Medicine, the MD Anderson President’s Award for Faculty Excellence, Award for Research Excellence, and more recently the Otis W. and Pearl L. Walters Faculty Achievement Award in Clinical Research from MD Anderson Cancer Center. In addition, he has been elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and served on the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) from March 2020 until January 2021. 

Dr. Tawbi has over 180 publications in high impact journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature, Science, Nature Medicine Cancer Discovery, Cancer, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, among others. He is an active member of SWOG, ASCO, AACR, the Society for Melanoma Research (SMR), SITC, Co-Chair of the SITC PD-1 Resistance Committee, Member of the Steering Committee of the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), and member of the Medical Advisory Panel of the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA).