Meet Dr. Neil Desai
Genitourinary and hematologic cancers specialist in Dallas

Holder of the:
Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care

Neil Desai, M.D., M.H.S., considers it a privilege to treat patients with cancer. He says he remains inspired by his physician-scientist mentors, who demonstrated not only the great potential of bringing advances to the clinic but also the humbling need to keep a patient’s goals and values in highest focus. Dr. Desai does both as a specialist in genitourinary and hematologic malignancies and as an expert who strives to match the ideal treatment to each patient’s disease.

Between his time at Dartmouth College and Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Desai participated in research to help determine which patients would benefit from a new class of targeted cancer drugs, and he helped develop new technologies for detecting the genetic alterations that determine a tumor’s aggressiveness.

During his residency training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he investigated how to apply specific treatments, including radiotherapy, to patients by considering factors such as disease biology and risk. His work culminated in the nationally recognized laboratory of David Solit, M.D., under whom he examined the impact of genetic alterations in the DNA damage response on the success of bladder-preserving chemoradiation for bladder cancer.

Here at UT Southwestern, Dr. Desai is committed to developing and participating in clinical trials designed to improve treatments for patients with genitourinary and hematologic cancers. He has a particular interest in prostate and bladder cancers, for which he notes that the need to improve treatment selection for a patient is as important as increasing treatment efficacy.

“We have well recognized urology and medical oncology programs at UT Southwestern,” Dr. Desai says. “By partnering with patients, we can offer a comprehensive spectrum of proven cancer treatments, as well as newer therapies still in development that are not available elsewhere.”

“Likewise, our radiation oncology department has a wealth of technology – we are known for being early adopters,” he says. “We can offer patients the very latest treatment options, and just as importantly, we do so only by vetting them with prospective trials and transparency that are found only at top tier academic institutions. My goal is to match patients with the best treatment for them as individuals after taking their goals into account.

“Many times, two or more therapies may be appropriate, and coming to a decision goes to trust and comfort as much as it does numbers. It is sometimes said that ‘perfect may be the enemy of the good’ in cancer treatment. I would concur and add that it is our department’s broad skill set in the ‘good’ that helps us avoid focusing on a single modality that is imperfect for every patient.”