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Chief - Oncology Integrated Center of Clinical Excellence, David Mahvi, M.D.

David Mahvi, M.D.

After finishing med school at MUSC and a surgical residency at Duke, David Mahvi became interested in multidisciplinary cancer care, set up multidisciplinary breast, liver and pancreatic cancer clinics in the Midwest – and focused on the health delivery model.

He became the chair of the American Board of Surgery and later the chief medical officer and president of the medical group at Northwestern Healthcare, allowing him to get involved with health policy. 

But Mahvi always felt a kinship to Charleston and MUSC. Dr. Mahvi grew up in Charleston. His father was a microbiologist, a Muslim who immigrated from Iran in the mid-sixties. “I got my training here. And it was the place that gave my father a job when no one else was willing to hire someone like him.”

When MUSC needed a leader for an integrated oncology program, he leaped at the chance and to help enhance the quality delivery of cancer care across South Carolina.

He has seen just that. MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center is now ranked #24 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and the program is one of fewer than 70 NCI-designated cancer centers.

His goal is to build on the success. “We’ll use this platform and push it outside of Charleston. We are already partnered with a number of institutions for research and clinical trials. We have a great disparities research group that focuses on cancer,” he says. “We are also seeing better and better trainees who want to come where we blend this great research program and great clinical care.”

The real challenge going forward says Mahvi is cost.

“If a patient gets a malignancy, it could bankrupt them. They could lose their job and it becomes a generational issue that affects the children and their future.”

Most cancers are cured surgically. We detect more early, do the procedure outpatient and the patient returns to a normal life quickly.

Immunotherapy is more applicable for patients for whom the treatment itself is toxic or when the cancer returns. “With radiation and chemotherapy, you get a lot of collateral damage to be sure you got all the cancer cells. With personalized, targeted treatment, you get around that,” he notes. “MUSC is on the cutting edge of these new immunotherapies like CAR-T, which is another example of the collaboration between researcher and clinician – and a game changer.”