Raffit Hassan, M.D.

Senior Investigator

Thoracic and GI Malignancies Branch


Bldg 10; 10 Center Drive room: 4E-5330
Bethesda, MD 20892



Research Topics

Dr. Hassan's research interest is focused on developing targeted immunotherapy, especially immunotoxins, for patients with malignant mesothelioma and other solid tumors. While working as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Ira Pastan, Dr. Hassan did pioneering preclinical work on the tumor differentiation antigen mesothelin as a target for cancer therapy and he has played a key role in bringing mesothelin-directed therapies to the clinic.

A major focus of the Hassan laboratory is developing mesothelin-targeted agents for treating cancer. These include an anti-mesothelin immunotoxin (SS1P), a chimeric monoclonal antibody to mesothelin (Amatuximab), an anti-mesothelin antibody drug conjugate (BAY 94-9343) and a mesothelin vaccine (CRS-207).

His initial pre-clinical studies and early phase clinical trials of the immunotoxin SS1P validated mesothelin as a therapeutic target for cancer therapy. His work is now focused on increasing the efficacy of SS1P in patients. The two approaches his laboratory is studying include combining SS1P with chemotherapy and decreasing the immunogenicity of immunotoxins. His group has recently shown major and durable tumor responses in patients with treatment refractory mesothelioma by combining SS1P with immunosupression. This work opens up the field of immunotoxin therapy for solid tumors and ongoing studies will elevate this approach for treatment of common cancers, including lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, Dr. Hassan and his collaborators will continue to develop less immunogenic immunotoxins for treatment of cancer.

His laboratory studies include development of mesothelioma patient-derived xenografts that mimic the molecular characteristics of patient tumors and are valuable for preclinical studies of mesothelin-directed agents. In addition, his laboratory studies the role of mesothelin in different tumors, the tumor immune environment of human meosthelioma and changes following treatment with immunotoxin therapy.


Dr. Raffit Hassan is a medical oncologist and senior investigator at NCI. He received his medical degree from the University of Kashmir, India in 1988 and did his internship and residency training in internal medicine at Sisters Hospital, University of Buffalo and subsequently completed his medical oncology fellowship at the NCI. After finishing his fellowship training he joined the medical faculty at the University of Oklahoma in 1998. He returned to NCI as a tenure track investigator in 2002 and received tenure in 2008. Dr. Hassan is a recipient of the ASCO Career Development Award, the NIH Patient Oriented Research Career Development Award and the Pioneer Award from the Mesothelioma Foundation.

Selected Publications

  1. Pastan I, Hassan R. Discovery of mesothelin and exploiting it as a target for immunotherapy. Cancer Res. 2014;74(11):2907-12.
  2. Hassan R, Miller AC, Sharon E, Thomas A, Reynolds JC, Ling A, Kreitman RJ, Miettinen MM, Steinberg SM, Fowler DH, Pastan I. Major cancer regressions in mesothelioma after treatment with an anti-mesothelin immunotoxin and immune suppression. Sci Transl Med. 2013;5(208):208ra147.
  3. Hassan R, Cohen SJ, Phillips M, Pastan I, Sharon E, Kelly RJ, Schweizer C, Weil S, Laheru D. Phase I clinical trial of the chimeric anti-mesothelin monoclonal antibody MORAb-009 in patients with mesothelin-expressing cancers. Clin Cancer Res. 2010;16(24):6132-8.
  4. Hassan R, Remaley AT, Sampson ML, Zhang J, Cox DD, Pingpank J, Alexander R, Willingham M, Pastan I, Onda M. Detection and quantitation of serum mesothelin, a tumor marker for patients with mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2006;12(2):447-53.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, October 13, 2021