• Researcher Profile

    Osama Rahma, MD

    Osama Rahma, MD
    Medical Oncologist, Center for Immuno-Oncology
    Medical Oncologist, Gastrointestinal Oncology

    Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


    Gastrointestinal Cancer
    Center for Immuno-Oncology

    Office phone: 617-632-2563
    Fax: 617-582-7227

    Preferred contact method: office phone

    View Physician Profile


    Immunotherapy, Gastrointestinal cancers, Pancreatic cancer

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    450 Brookline Avenue
    Boston, MA 02215


    Dr. Rahma received his medical degree from University of Damascus in 1998. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at East Carolina University followed by Geriatrics Fellowship at University of Hawaii. Dr. Rahma joined the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as an Immunotherapy Research Fellow in the Vaccine Branch in 2009 and completed a Fellowship in Medical Oncology in 2013 specializing in Cancer Immunotherapy and Gastrointestinal (GI) Oncology. While at NCI, his efforts led to the development of many clinical studies investigating immunotherapy in GI malignancies. 

    Prior to joining Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Rahma was the co-leader of the Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Program at University of Virginia where he led translational research efforts as the Principal Investigator of many clinical trials. Dr. Rahma joined the Center for Immuno-Oncology at Dana-Farber to be part of national and international efforts to advance the field of Cancer Immunotherapy. He is currently the chair of two investigator-initiated clinical trials using a novel combination of immune checkpoint inhibitor (anti-PD-1) and neoadjuvant chemoradiation in pancreatic and rectal cancer. During this exciting era of cancer immunotherapy and in collaboration with other investigators, Dr. Rahma will be investigating the combinations of variety of novel immunotherapeutic agents in multiple tumor types and working on identifying biomarkers that could determine clinical response.

    Recent Awards

    • Danny Danielson Translational Innovation Award, Hoosier Cancer Research Network, 2015
    • Oncology Trainee Award, The Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO, 2012

    Select Publications

    • Rahma OE, Ashtar E, Ibrahim R, Toubaji A, Gause B, Herrin VE, Linehan WM, Steinberg SM, Grollman F, Grimes G, Bernstein SA, Berzofsky JA, Khleif SN. A pilot clinical trial testing mutant von Hippel-Lindau peptide as a novel immune therapy in metastatic renal cell carcinoma. J Transl Med. 2010 Jan 28;8:8. PMID: 20109232. PMCID: PMC2843651
    • Song JY, Eberle FC, Xi L, Raffeld M, Rahma OE, Wilson WH, Dunleavy K, Pittaluga S, Jaffe E. Coexisting and clonally identical classic hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte predominant hodgkin lymphoma. Am J Surg Pathol. 2011 May;35(5):767-72. PMID: 21490448. PMCID: PMC3077769
    • Rahma OE, Khleif SN. Therapeutic vaccines for gastrointestinal cancers. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011 Aug;7(8):517-64. PMID: 22298988. PMCID: PMC3264936
    • Rahma OE, Greten TF, Duffy A. Locally advanced cancer of the esophagus, current treatment strategies and future directions. Front Oncol. 2012 May 24;2:52. PMID: 22655277. PMCID: PMC3359480
    • Rahma OE, Ashtar E, Czystowska M, Szajnik ME, Wieckowski E, Bernstein S, Herrin VE, Shams MA, Steinberg SM, Merino M, Gooding W, Visus C, Deleo AB, Wolf JK, Bell JG, Berzofsky JA, Whiteside TL, Khleif SN. A gynecologic oncology group phase II trial of two p53 peptide vaccine approaches: subcutaneous injection and intravenous pulsed dendritic cells in high recurrence risk ovarian cancer patients. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2012 Mar;61(3):373-84. PMID: 21927947. PMCID: PMC3708463
    • Rahma OE, A. Duffy, D. J. Liewehr, S. M. Steinberg and T. F. Greten. Second-line treatment in advanced pancreatic cancer: A comprehensive analysis of published clinical trials. Ann Oncol. 2013 Aug;24(8):1972-9. PMID: 23670093. PMCID: PMC3718508
    • Rahma OE, Burotto M, Do Canto LM, Germanos AA, Haddad BR, Marshall JL. Striking similarities in genetic aberrations between a rectal tumor and its lung recurrence. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2013 Nov 15; 5(11): 198–203. PMID: 24244806. PMCID: PMC3828635
    • Duffy A, Rahma OE, Greten TF. “Letter re: "Prognostic value of cetuximab-related skin toxicity in metastatic colorectal cancer patients and its correlation with parameters of the epidermal growth factor receptor signal transduction pathway: Results from a randomized trial of the GERMAN AIO CRC Study Group." Int J Cancer. 2013 Apr 1;132(7):1718. PMID: 22930464.
    • Gaertner KM, Caldwell SH, Rahma OE. A case of retinal tear associated with use of sorafenib.  Front. Oncol. 2014 Jul 24;4:196. PMID: 25105094. PMCID: PMC4109517
    • Zakharia Y, Rahma OE, Khleif SN. Ovarian cancer from an immune perspective. Radiat Res. 2014 Aug;182(2):239-51. PMID: 25036981
    • Rahma OE, Zaw Myint ZW, Estfan. Dendritic cell cancer vaccines for treatment of colon cancer. Current Colorectal Cancer Reports. 2014 Dec;10(4):470-476.  DOI 10.1007/s11888-014-0243-4
    • Rahma OE, Hamilton JM, Wojtowicz M, Dakheel O, Bernstein S, Liewehr DJ, Steinberg SM and Khleif SN. The immunological and clinical effects of mutated Ras peptide vaccine in combination with IL-2, GM-CSF, or both in patients with solid tumors. J Transl Med. 2014 Feb 24;12:55. PMID:24565030. PMCID: PMC3942063
    • Rahma OE, Gammoh E, Simon R, Khleif SN. Is the "3+3" dose escalation phase 1 clinical trial design suitable for therapeutic cancer vaccine development? A recommendation for alternative design. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Sep 15;20(18):4758-67. PMID:25037736. PMCID:PMC4167476
    • Ulahannan SV1, Duffy AG, McNeel TS, Kish JK, Dickie LA, Rahma OE, McGlynn KA, Greten TF, Altekruse SF. Earlier presentation and application of curative treatments in hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology. 2014 Nov;60(5):1637-44. PMID: 24996116. PMCID: PMC4211986
    • Rahma OE, Herrin VE, Ibrahim RA, Toubaji A, Bernstein S, Dakhee O, Steinberg SM, Abu Eid R, Mkrtichyan M, Berzofsky JA and Khleif SN. Pre-immature dendritic cells (PIDC) pulsed with HPV16 E6 or E7 peptide are capable of eliciting specific immune response in patients with advanced cervical cancer. J Transl Med. 2014 Dec 16;12:353. PMID: 25510844. PMCID: PMC4269078
    • Ulahannan SV*, Rahma OE*, Duffy AG, Makarova-Rusher OV, Kurtoglu M, Liewehr DJ, Steinberg SM, Greten TF. Identification of active chemotherapy regimens in advanced biliary tract carcinoma (BTC): a review of chemotherapy trials in the past two decades. Hepat Oncol. 2015 Jan; 2(1):39-50. PMID: 25685318. PMCID: PMC4326054. *Shared first-authorship
    • Lynch AC, Sen JM, Ward LP, DeGregory KA, Kunk PR, Wages NA, Ramsdale EE, Rahma OE. Real-world evaluation of hematologic toxicity associated with nab-paclitaxel plus gemcitabine for advanced pancreatic cancer. Am J Cancer Res. 2015 Sept; 2 (1):26-36. doi:10.7726/ajcrco.2015.1002
    • Duffy AG, Ulahannan SV, Cao L, Rahma OE, Makarova-Rusher OV, Kleiner DE, Fioravanti S, Walker M, Carey S, Yu Y, Venkatesan AM, Turkbey B, Choyke P, Trepel J, Bollen KC, Steinberg SM, Figg WD, Greten TF. A Phase II study of TRC105 in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who have progressed on Sorafenib. United European Gastroenterol J. 2015 Oct;3(5):453-61. PMID: 26535124. PMCID: PMC4625750
    • Emaculate Verla-Tebit, Rahma OE. Regression of hepatocellular carcinoma after treatment of hepatitis C- a case report. J Gastrointest Oncol. 2015 Jun;6(3):E52-4. PMID: 26029467. PMCID: PMC4397252   
    • Berbari1 B, Romano AM, Bhatti R, Rahma OE. A case report of a poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma diagnosed in the bone marrow. Gastroenterology & Hepatology Open Access. 2015 Dec;3(2):00073. DOI: 10.15406/ghoa.2015.03.00073
    • Kunk PR, Ramsdale EE, Rahma OE.  Targeting tumor angiogenesis in gastrointestinal malignancies. The Journal of Current Angiogenesis. 2015;4(2);1. DOI: 10.2174/2211552804666151116174614 http://www.eurekaselect.com/node/137007/article
    • Carrera C, Kunk PR, Rahma OE. Small cell carcinoma of the gallbladder: Case report and comprehensive analysis of published cases. J Oncol. 2015 Dec;2015:304909. doi: 10.1155/2015/304909. . PMID: 26823665. PMCID: PMC4707370
    • Kunk PR, Bauer TW, Slingluff CL, Rahma OE.  From bench to bedside: A comprehensive review of pancreatic cancer immunotherapy. J Immunother Cancer. 2016 Mar 15;4:14. PMID: 26981244. PMCID: PMC4791889
    • Gentzler R, Hall R, Kunk PR, Gaughan E, Dillon P, Slingluff CL and Rahma OE. Beyond melanoma: targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoints in solid tumor malignancies. Immunotherapy. 2016 May;8(5):583-600. PMID: 27140411 
    • Newhook TE, Lindberg JM, Adair SJ, Kim AJ, Stelow EB, Rahma OE, Parsons JT, Bauer TW. Adjuvant Trametinib Delays the Outgrowth of Occult Pancreatic Cancer in a Mouse Model of Patient-Derived Liver Metastasis. Ann Surg Oncol. 2016 Jun;23(6):1993-2000. DOI: 10.1245/s10434-016-5116-4. PMID: 26847682
    • Duffy AG, Makarova-Rusher OV, Ulahannan SV, Rahma OE, Fioravanti S, Walker M, Abdullah S, Raffeld M, Anderson V, Abi-Jaoudeh N, Levy E, Wood BJ, Lee S, Tomita Y, Trepel JB, Steinberg SM, Revenko AS, MacLeod AR, Peer CJ, Figg WD, Greten TF.Modulation of tumor eIF4E by antisense inhibition: A phase I/II translational clinical trial of ISIS 183750 – an antisense oligonucleotide against eIF4E – in combination with irinotecan in solid tumors and irinotecan-refractory colorectal cancer. Int J Cancer. 2016 May 19. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30199. PMID: 27194579
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