Dr. H. Richard Alexander is a highly respected surgical oncologist and medical researcher, serving as the Chief Surgical Officer of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. His specialties include the treatment of patients with difficult-to-treat thoracic cancers, such as gastrointestinal malignancies, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pancreatic, colorectal, and liver cancers. Alexander also serves as a professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Alexander received his medical degree from Georgetown University’s School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., followed by a residency in general surgery at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (now known as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center). After his residency, he actively served in the U.S. Navy for eight years and then completed a fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
After his fellowship, Alexander spent 16 years with the National Cancer Institute, where he served as deputy director for the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. Prior to his current role at Rutgers, which he began in 2017, Alexander was the associate chairman for clinical research at the University of Maryland in the Department of Surgery. He was named by Baltimore Magazine as one of the “Top Docs” for general surgical oncology in 2010.
Alexander focuses much of his research on malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, which is a very rare type of cancer that affects the thin lining (the peritoneum) of the abdominal cavity. Specifically, he is researching the genes and proteins within tumors in order to determine the best treatment strategies for patients. In fact, Alexander and his team have successfully stopped tumors from growing in cell cultures and lab mice by isolating certain proteins, with human trials to follow. He also is working on better ways to treat peritoneal dissemination, which is the spread of tumors within the abdominal cavity.
Similar to many other leading mesothelioma physicians, Alexander believes a multimodal approach – combining surgery, general chemotherapy, and regional chemotherapy (applying chemotherapy drugs directly to the abdominal cavity) — is the best way to treat patients. He regularly collaborates with physicians spanning various medical disciplines in order to find the right balance of methods.
A well-known international lecturer on cancer surgery and treatment, Alexander has published more than peer-reviewed 250 articles in medical journals, along with a few book chapters. He also serves as a reviewer for the New England Journal of Medicine, Cancer Research, and the Annals of Surgical Oncology, while sitting on the editorial board of the medical journal Surgery.
Alexander is a member of several high-profile medical organizations, including the American Surgical Association, the Society of Surgical Oncology, and the American College of Surgeons. He was awarded the National Institutes of Health Individual Merit Award and continues to be a leader in the development of new cancer treatments.
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