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Dr. Kosj Yamoah speaking to patient

Even as a boy growing up in Ghana, Kosj Yamoah, MD, PhD, liked providing medical attention to those who needed it.  He was the youngest of four children, so hungry for knowledge about math, physics and biology that he devoured his older siblings’ textbooks. He started high school at 7 and college at 13.

“I was drawn to the health of the mind, body and soul, possibly because my dad was a pastor,” Yamoah said.

Today, Yamoah is a key player in Moffitt Cancer Center’s drive to provide innovative care and lifesaving research to benefit patients in Tampa Bay and globally. He was named in early 2022 as chair of Moffitt’s Radiation Oncology Department.

It’s a key position, because as Yamoah points out, radiation therapy is a pillar of oncology – 60% of cancer patients receive radiotherapy treatment. It’s also an area of lightning-fast innovation, with technological advancements that are allowing oncologists like Yamoah to use intense beams of radiation to destroy tumors with incredible precision, sparing healthy tissue more than ever before.

“For us to really accomplish Moffitt’s mission, to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer, radiotherapy really has to be an integral part of that process,” Yamoah said.

His goals for advancing Moffitt’s Radiation Oncology mission include:

  • Using new and precise technologies including proton therapy, an MRI-guided radiotherapy system called MRI-Linac and more. Also fine-tuning these treatments by applying genomic fingerprinting to develop precise genomic-adjusted radiotherapy dose (GARD) schedules for each individual patient’s tumors.
  • Collaborating with multiple departments on basic and translational research, taking advantage of Moffitt’s wealth of expertise in different cancers. This can lead to transformational innovations that improve outcomes for patients.
  • Positioning Moffitt as a global leader in Radiation Oncology, with a footprint that extends not only beyond Florida, but across the world.

“There's clear evidence that cancer is best treated through multidisciplinary care,” Yamoah said.

For us to really accomplish Moffitt’s mission, to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer, radiotherapy really has to be an integral part of that process.
Kosj Yamoah, MD, PhD

“The way to achieve that is to bring all the disciplines from both the research enterprise and the clinical enterprise together to come up with preventative and therapeutic strategies against cancer.”

Yamoah has a strong commitment to health equity. As a researcher, he has studied disparities globally in prostate cancer among men of African origin, and he works to increase access to quality care.

He is a past recipient of the George Edgecomb Society grant funding, and he praises the society for playing an important role. Health disparities research has traditionally been underfunded, which limited the amount of data that could justify future research.

“The George Edgecomb Society really came in at a critical time to provide support for potential research projects that may not have enough data to be competitive for a state or federal awards, yet hold promise in changing the landscape of our field,” Yamoah said.

“I cannot emphasize enough how critical this funding initiative has been to the field of health disparities research,” he added.

Yamoah’s role as a physician-scientist and medical leader touches on the highest levels of technology and science. But he said it’s equally important to remember the humanity of his patients.

One moving example is a poignant video in which Yamoah described praying for one of his patients. The patient is Lanse Scriven, who is a member of the George Edgecomb Society Steering Committee and also a member of Moffitt’s Hospital Board of Directors.

Yamoah said he never forgets that patients are dealing with life-changing diagnoses and treatments, and that the Moffitt care and skilled medical teams have the opportunity to make a profound difference in their lives.

“I always keep that compass, that focus, in everything we do,” he said.