Cancer researcher to lead department of anatomy and cell biology

Yehia Daaka, Ph.D., has been appointed chair of the department of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

“We found the best person to lead the department forward right here at UF,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, M.D.

Daaka is currently the scientific director of the UF Prostate Disease Center and the David A. Cofrin Chair in Urologic Oncology in the department of urology, as well as a professor of urology and anatomy and cell biology. He began his new role as chair on June 10.

A specialist in biochemistry and pharmacology, Daaka’s research on the function of G protein-coupled receptors has contributed to their recognition as targets for cancer therapy, and during the last decade, several anti-cancer drugs have been developed against these molecules as a result.

“Yehia Daaka is a gifted and dedicated researcher committed to innovating the fundamental science of cancer biology,” said Stephen Sugrue, Ph.D., a professor in the department and senior associate dean of research affairs in the College of Medicine. “His devotion to academic excellence and the University of Florida is matched only by his commitment to educating the next generation of researchers and physicians.”

Daaka received his Ph.D. in medical sciences from the University of South Florida in 1995 and then continued his training as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University. He was appointed to the Duke University School of Medicine faculty from 1998-2005. While at Duke, Daaka established his own research laboratory and worked with Nobel laureate Robert Lefkowitz, M.D., co-authoring several papers with him.

“That type of outside experience at a prestigious medical school and laboratory, coupled with several years of work already here at UF, along with his leadership skills and strong desire to advance research and education at UF make Dr. Daaka an ideal chair,” Good said. “I am excited about the future of this department under his leadership.”

In his new role, Daaka said he plans to raise the profile of the department by concentrating on five principles: education, service, research, extramural funding and visibility.

“Working together, I envision our department to be home to distinguished faculty who contribute to the shaping of medicine and science through innovative research, education and leadership,” he said. “It is an honor to be selected as chair.”

Daaka is committed to leading department faculty and students toward collaborations with other College of Medicine faculty with the goal of patient-inspired, impactful research, he said.

“We aim to translate our discoveries into clinical applications that will ultimately benefit our patients,” Daaka said.