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Randa A. El-Zein, MD, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Adjunct Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Houston, TX

Research Interests

 The focus of my research is on understanding the role of gene-environment interactions in the risk for development of adverse health effects. Studies conducted in my laboratory integrate several endpoints that specifically measure levels of genetic instability induced by such interactions. These endpoints are carefully selected in a manner to allow a better understanding of the different mechanisms involved in the resulting genetic instability, and whether this genetic instability is due to accumulated DNA damage, inhibition of apoptosis, specific mutations or cell cycle arrests.

The research in my laboratory is aligned with the goals and priority areas of research set forth by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Centerís mission to eliminate cancer through programs that integrate research and prevention. In cancer research activities I have developed expertise in the area of biomarkers and genetic polymorphisms. I have applied these unique markers to identify several inherited genetic traits that influence human sensitivity to different cancers such as lung and lymphomas.

My laboratory has a translational research approach, and I am currently studying human populations using biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility, and biological effects. The results from our laboratory studies are providing new information that has significant and practical public health implications in the area of early detection and primary prevention of disease. The overall goal is to develop novel approaches to identify susceptible individuals at high risk of developing adverse health effects from environmental insults. Such susceptible subgroups may be specifically targeted for screening or chemoprevention interventions. New knowledge generated from these research endeavors is geared to fulfill the institutionís need for rapid and efficient translation of emerging new technologies and approaches to improved patient management, early detection and prevention.


Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1155 Pressler Street
Unit Number: 1340
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: CPB 4.3478

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1997 The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, PHD, Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics
1989 Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt, MS, Human Genetics
1983 Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt, MD, Faculty of Medicine

Postgraduate Training

11/1997-8/1999 Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Board Certifications

1996 U.S. Medical Licensing

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Brothers JF*, Hijazi K*, Mascaux C, El-Zein RA, Spitz MR, Spira A. Bridging the clinical gaps: genetic, epigenetic and transcriptomic biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer in the post-NLST era. BMC Medicine. In Press. PMCID: PMC3717087.
2. McHugh MK, Lopez MS, Ho CH, Spitz MR, Etzel CJ, El-Zein RA. Use of the cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay to detect gender differences and genetic instability in a lung cancer case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 22(1):135-45, 1/2013. e-Pub 11/29/2012. PMCID: PMC3538922.
3. Guo C, Lu H, Gao W, Wang L, Lu K, Wu S, Pataer A, Huang M, El-Zein R, Lin T, Roth JA, Mehran R, Hofstetter W, Swisher SG, Wu X, Fang B. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-2 level is increased in blood of lung cancer patients and associated with poor survival. PLoS One 8(9):e74973, 2013. e-Pub 9/2013. PMCID: PMC3775736.
4. Krishnamurthy S, Woodward W, Yang W, Reuben JM, Tepperberg J, Ogura D, Niwa S, Huo L, Gong Y, El-Zein R, Gonzalez-Angulo AM, Chavez-Macgregor M, Alvarez R, Lucci A, Valero V, Ueno NT. Status of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene in inflammatory breast carcinoma. Springerplus 2:409, 2013. e-Pub 8/2013. PMCID: PMC3797914.
5. D'Amelio AM, Monroy C, El-Zein R, Etzel CJ. Using haplotype analysis to elucidate significant associations between genes and Hodgkin lymphoma. Leuk Res 36(11):1359-64, 11/2012. e-Pub 8/2012. PMCID: PMC3449215.
6. El-Zein RA, Young RP, Hopkins RJ, Etzel CJ. Genetic predisposition to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or lung cancer: important considerations when evaluating risk. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 5(4):522-7, 4/2012. PMID: 22491518.
7. Abdel-Rahman SZ, El-Zein RA. Evaluating the effects of genetic variants of DNA repair genes using cytogenetic mutagen sensitivity approaches. Biomarkers 16(5):393-404, 8/2011. e-Pub 5/2011. PMCID: PMC3142279.
8. Young R, Hopkins R, Etzel C, El-Zein RA. Genetics of lung cancer susceptibility and COPD. Lancet Oncol 12(7):622-3, 7/2011. PMID: 21708349.
9. Piskac-Collier AL, Monroy C, Lopez MS, Cortes A, Etzel CJ, Greisinger AJ, Spitz MR, El-Zein RA. Variants in folate pathway genes as modulators of genetic instability and lung cancer risk. Genes Chromosomes Cancer 50(1):1-12, 1/2011. e-Pub 9/2010. PMID: 20842733.
10. Young RP, Hopkins RJ, Gamble GD, Etzel CJ, El-Zein RA, Crapo JD. Genetic evidence linking lung cancer and COPD: a new perspective. Genetics 4:1-13, 2011.
11. Katz RL, He W, Khanna A, Fernandez RL, Zaidi TM, Krebs M, Caraway NP, Zhang HZ, Jiang F, Spitz MR, Blowers DP, Jimenez CA, Mehran RJ, Swisher SG, Roth JA, Morris JS, Etzel CJ, El-Zein RA. Genetically abnormal circulating cells in lung cancer patients an antigen independent fluorescence in-situ hybridization-based case-control study. Clin Cancer Res 16(15):3976-87, 8/2010. e-Pub 7/2010. PMCID: PMC2949278.
12. Rourke EA, Lopez MS, Monroy CM, Scheurer ME, Etzel CJ, Albrecht T, Bondy ML, El-Zein RA. Modulation of radiation-induced genetic damage by HCMV in peripheral blood lymphocytes from a brain tumor case-control study. Cancers 2(2):420-435, 2010.
13. Kinslow CJ, El-Zein RA, Rondelli CM, Hill CE, Wickliffe JK, Abdel-Rahman SZ. Regulatory regions responsive to oxidative stress in the promoter of the human DNA glycosylase gene NEIL2. Mutagenesis 25(2). e-Pub 11/2009. PMCID: PMC2825343.
14. El-Zein RA, Monroy CM, Etzel CJ, Cortes AC, Xing Y, Collier AL, Strom SS. Genetic polymorphisms in DNA repair genes as modulators of Hodgkin disease risk. Cancer 115(8):1651-9, 4/2009. PMCID: PMC2854485.
15. Scheurer ME, Bondy ML, Aldape KD, Albrecht T, El-Zein RA. Detection of human cytomegalovirus in different histological types of gliomas. Acta Neuropathol 20(1):79-86, 7/2008. e-Pub 3/2008. PMCID: PMC3001277.
16. El-Zein RA, Fenech M, Lopez MS, Spitz MR, Etzel CJ. Cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus cytome assay biomarkers identify lung cancer cases amongst smokers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 17(5):1111-9, 5/2008. PMCID: PMC2854407.
17. Scheurer ME, Etzel CJ, Liu M, El-Zein RA, Airewele GE, Malmer B, Aldape KD, Weinberg JS, Yung WK, Bondy ML. Aggregation of cancer in first-degree relatives of patients with glioma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 16(11):2491-5, 11/2007. PMID: 18006942.
18. El-Zein RA, Etzel CJ, Lopez MS, Gu Y, Spitz MR, Strom SS. Human sensitivity to PhIP: a novel marker for prostate cancer risk. Mutat Res 601(1-2):1-10, 10/2006. e-Pub 8/2006. PMID: 16889804.
19. El-Zein RA, Schabath MB, Etzel CJ, Lopez MS, Franklin JD, Spitz MR. Cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay as a novel biomarker for lung cancer risk. Cancer Res 66(12):6449-56, 6/2006. PMID: 16778224.
20. El-Zein RA, Gu Y, Sierra MS, Spitz MR, Strom SS. Chromosomal instability in peripheral blood lymphocytes and risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14(3):748-52, 3/2005. PMID: 15767363.
21. El-Zein RA, Bondy ML, Wang LE, de Andrade M, Sigurdson AJ, Bruner JM, Kyritsis AP, Levin VA, Wei Q. Increased chromosomal instability in peripheral lymphocytes and risk of human gliomas. Carcinogenesis 20(5):811-5, 5/1999. PMID: 10334198.
22. El-Zein RA, Zwischenberger JB, Wood TG, Abdel-Rahman SZ, Brekelbaum C, Au WW. Combined genetic polymorphism and risk for development of lung cancer. Mutat Res 381(2):189-200, 1997. PMID: 9434875.
23. El-Zein RA, Conforti-Froes N, Au WW. Interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental toxicants for development of lung cancer. Environ Mol Mutagen 30(2):196-204, 1997. PMID: 9329644.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Cellular and molecular mechanisms of gastrointestinal cancers
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Leader Project 2
Principal Investigator: Lopa Mishra
Duration: 9/1/2012 - 8/31/2014
Title: Validation and extension of an existing risk model for lung cancer
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 7/12/2012 - 7/30/2017
Title: A feasibility study for high-throughput application of a novel early detection and risk assessment biomarker
Funding Source: Duncan Family Institute Seed Funding Research Program (DFI)
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 8/1/2011 - 7/31/2013
Title: Effects from nicotinic receptor variations on smoking behaviors and lung cancer risk
Funding Source: Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Ralf Krahe
Duration: 5/1/2010 - 4/30/2013
Title: University of Puerto Rico/MDACC Partnership for excellence in Cancer Research
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Leader for Pilot Project
Principal Investigator: Raymond DuBois, MD, PhD
Duration: 8/16/2002 - 8/30/2013

Last updated: 7/21/2014