Asfar Azmi

Asfar Azmi

Associate Professor


Asfar Azmi

Office Address

Karmanos Cancer Institute
4100 John R, HWCRC 740.1
Detroit MI 48201


Sahar Bannoura



Research Interests

• Pancreatic Cancer
• Nuclear protein transport biology in cancer
• Novel therapeutic avenues in mutant KRAS pathway
• NAD Signaling
• Animal models in translational drug discovery

Research Description

Dr. Asfar Azmi is a Associate Professor of Oncology at Wayne State University School of Medicine. He is the Leader of Molecular Therapeutics Program as well as the Director of Pancreas Cancer Research at the NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit Michigan. He has a record of accomplishment in the area of drug discovery research. Dr. Azmi made fundamental discoveries on the role of aberrant nuclear protein transport in pancreatic cancer development and drug resistance. He has made significant contributions on pre-clinical and early phase development of new drugs for pancreatic cancer and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors particularly, nuclear export inhibitor selinexor and KRAS pathway targeted therapies. Work done by his team led to the FDA approval of selinexor in several tumor indications. His lab uses high throughput technologies such as RNA-seq, sn-RNA-seq, spatial transcriptomics in patient derived tumors and genetically engineered mouse models to identify epigenetic and regulatory mechanisms of XPO1 and design novel drug combinations. Dr. Azmi's group is also developing novel drugs against mutant KRAS pathway proteins. His team has discovered the role of Rho GTPase effector protein p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) biosynthesis pathway rate limiting enzyme nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) in promoting tumor growth, desmoplasia and drug resistance in cellular and patient derived tumor models. His ongoing projects are focused on developing ways to favorably alter the pancreatic tumor microenvironment, making them more accessible to chemotherapeutic drugs. His lab is also exploring how targeting KRAS pathway proteins and NAD signaling can enhance immunotherapy strategies in therapy resistant cancers. Dr. Azmi has published more than 150 peer reviewed articles in prestigious journals such as Gastroenterology, Oncogene, Clinical Cancer Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology and Seminars in Cancer Biology. He is the editor of several books on drug discovery topics. Dr. Azmi is the recipient of NIH MERIT award, and young investigator awards from American Pancreatic Association, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and American Society of Hematology (ASH). He is the recipient of Academy of Scholars Award from Wayne State University, Kales Endowed Faculty Award for Innovative Cancer Research and Heroes of Cancer Award from Karmanos Cancer Institute. His lab is continuously funded by NIH and pharma industry.

Recent Publications

Khan HY*, Nagasaka M, Li Y, Aboukameel A, Uddin MH, Sexton RH*, Bannoura S, Mzannar Y*, Al-Hallak MN, Kim SH, Beydoun R, Landesman Y, Mandani H, Uprety D, Philip PA, Mohammad RM, Shields AF, Azmi AS. Inhibitor of the nuclear transport protein XPO1 enhances the anticancer efficacy of KRAS G12C inhibitors in preclinical models of KRAS G12C mutant cancers. Cancer Research Communications 2022;2:342-52.

Khan HY*, Uddin MH, Balasubramanian SK, Sulaiman N*, Iqbal M*, Chaker M*, Aboukameel A, Li Y, Senapedis W, Baloglu E, Mohammad RM, Zonder J, Azmi AS. PAK4 and NAMPT as Novel Therapeutic Targets in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, Follicular Lymphoma, and Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Cancers (Basel). 2021;14:160.

Nagasaka M*, Asad MFB*, Al Hallak MN*, Uddin MH*, Sukari A, Baca Y, Xiu J, Magee D, Mamdani H, Uprety D, Kim C, Xia B, Liu SV, Nieva JJ, Lopes G, Bepler G, Borghaei H, Demeure MJ, Raez LE, Ma PC, Puri S, Korn WM, Azmi AS. Impact of XPO1 mutations on survival outcomes in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung Cancer. 2021;160:92-8.

Mpilla G*, Uddin MH*, Al-Hallak MN*, Aboukameel A*, Li Y*, Kim S, Beydoun R, Dyson G, Baloglu E, Senapedis W, Landesman Y, Wagner KU, Viola N, El-Rayes B, Philip PA, Mohammad RM, Azmi AS. PAK4-NAMPT dual inhibitor sensitizes pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors to everolimus. Mol Can Ther. 2021;20:1836-45.

Seymour E, Khan HY*, Li Y*, Chaker M*, Muqbil I*, Aboukameel A*, Ramchandren R, Houde C, Sterbis G, Yang J, Bhutani D*, Pregja SL, Reichel KA, Huddlestun A, Neveux C, Corona K, Landesman Y, Shah J, Kauffman M, Shacham S, Mohammad RM, Azmi AS, Zonder J. Selinexor in combination with R-CHOP for frontline treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: results of a phase 1 study. Clin Cancer Res. 2021;27:3307-16.

Azmi AS, Khan HY*, Muqbil I, Aboukameel A*, Neggers JE, Daelemans D, Mahipal A, Dyson G, Kamgar M*, Al Hallak MN*, Tesfaye A, Kim S, Shidham V, Ramzi M, Philip PA. Preclinical assessment with clinical validation of Selinexor with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel for the treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Clin Cancer Res. 2020;26:1338-48.

Nagasaka M, Li Y, Sukari A, Ou SI, Al-Hallak MN, Azmi AS. KRAS G12C Game of Thrones, which direct KRAS inhibitor will claim the iron throne? Cancer Treat Rev. 2020;84:101974.

Nagasaka M, Sexton R, Alhasan R, Rahman S, Azmi AS, Sukari A. Gut microbiome and response to checkpoint inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer-A review. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2020;145:102841.

Mpilla G*, Aboukameel A*, Muqbil I, Kim S, Beydoun R, Philip PA, Mohammad RM, Kamgar M*, Shidham V, Senapedis W, Baloglu E, Li J, Dyson G, Xue Y, El-Rayes B, Azmi AS. PAK4-NAMPT Dual Inhibition as a Novel Strategy for Therapy Resistant Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors. Cancers 2019;11:1902.



PhD. (2006) AMU, India

Courses Taught

CB7300 Special Topics - Fundamentals of Cancer Drug Discovery
CB7460 Mechanism of Neoplasia: Alterations to Cellular Signaling
CB7700 Recent Developments in Cancer Biology
CB7300 Special Topics-Cancer Biomarkers

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