March Physician of the Month: Amir Mortazavi

Amir Mortazavi

“I always tell my patients, ‘I have control of one thing: taking care of you and making sure I answer every one of your questions and address all your concerns—no matter how long it takes.’”

Meet Amir Mortazavi, MD, the March Physician of the Month at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James):

An early start leads to a big move

Amir Mortazavi’s future in medicine was foreshadowed by his childhood in Tehran, where he bred and cared for as many as 60 animals at a time, including an injured hawk that he nursed back to health.

“I was almost running a zoo,” he jokes. “I just always knew I wanted to be a physician.”

After practicing as a general practitioner in Iran for several years, Mortazavi moved to the U.S. in 1998 to conduct research and practice medicine. He soon began his internal medicine training at SUNY at Buffalo, followed by a fellowship in medical oncology at the OSUCCC – James in 2003.

“I see a great variety of patients—most [have] bladder, prostate and kidney cancers, but I also see some testicular and penial cancer patients because these types of cancers are much less common,” Mortazavi says. “Most of my clinical and basic research is focused on bladder cancer.”

New hope through innovative treatment

At the OSUCCC – James, where he serves as the medical oncology division co-director and the director of clinical operations, Mortazavi and his fellow genitourinary cancer specialists see many advanced and complicated cases.

“That’s the nature of a tertiary cancer center—we get patients referred to us from community practices,” he says. “In many cases, the standard therapies have failed.”

At Ohio State, experts like Mortazavi use the latest advances in individualized treatment, which can include immunotherapy and access to a long list of clinical trials, to offer new options—and new hope.

“That’s what drives me every day—to see one of these beautiful outcomes that tells you this is possible. We just have to work even harder to make this possible for more people,” he says. “Here at The James, we provide personalized care by paying detailed attention to the biology of each individual cancer—seeing a patient as a whole and not only the cancer.

“With the ability to genetically profile each person’s cancer, we may find new targets for treatment, and coupled with the rapid advances in immunotherapy, we are truly on our way to offer more effective personalized medicine, hopefully in the near future.”

Learning from the past to teach the future

In addition to his previously mentioned roles, Mortazavi is an associate professor at Ohio State, teaching medical school students, residents and fellows.

“I am who I am because of my parents and family and my teachers,” Mortazavi says. “I was blessed to have wonderful teachers, and one of my biggest rewards is passing on knowledge to the next generation. To give our trainees and students some direction and motivation, and to watch them grow and become successful, is so rewarding.”

Mortazavi and his wife, artist Tannaz Pedram, have two sons—Aras, 27, who recently graduated from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, and Ryan, 15—along with some family members that serve as reminders of his first patients in Tehran.

“Of course there are several family pets—Coco, a Havanese (dog), and two cockatiels—all of whom keep us entertained” Mortazavi says.