American University of Beirut

 Lab of Dr. Hiba El Hajj

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Link to Dr.El Hajj's​ FMIS Profile

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Rese​arch Interests

  •  Understanding and dissecting the molecular mechanisms underpinning the pathophysiology of Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
  • Exploring potential pathways including ribosomal biogenesis, stress response-related pathways, and key player enzymes involved in post-translational modification of Nucleophosmin-1 mutant Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
  • Seeking for new targeted therapies triggering oncoprotein degradation in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
  • Exploring the potential protective role of antibodies, directed against stage-specific invasion complexes, in preventing acute or chronic toxoplasmosis.
  • Revising the current treatment general anti-parasitic/anti-bacterial agents against toxoplasmosis and exploring the effect of Immunomodulatory drugs against acute or chronic toxoplasmosis.
  • Characterizing new bradyzoite markers and exploring their role in the maintenance of chronic toxoplasmosis.
  • Exploring the potency of novel immunomodulatory drugs and characterizing their mechanism of action against cutaneous leishmaniais.

Research P​rojects

  • In Oncology, our research focuses on the biology of oncoproteins and the development of oncogene-targeted therapies for human leukemias
  • ​In Parasitology, we focus on two protozoan parasites, the coccidian apicomplexan Toxoplasma gondii parasite and the flagellated kinetoplastida Leishmania parasite. Toxoplasma gondii is the etiologic agent of toxoplasmosis, that can be fatal in immunocompromised patients if un- or inadequately treated. Another spectrum is the congenital toxoplasmosis with a disease outcome that can range from severe fetal disabling to abortion depending on the trimester of infection.

Selected Publications

Seroprevalence of Anti-Toxoplasma gondii Antibodies Among Lebanese Pregnant Women.
Nahouli H, El Arnaout N, Chalhoub E, Anastadiadis E, El Hajj H
Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2017 Oct 24

Efficient invasion by Toxoplasma depends on the subversion of host protein networks.
Guérin A, Corrales RM, Parker ML, Lamarque MH, Jacot D, El Hajj H, Soldati-Favre D, Boulanger MJ, Lebrun M.
Nat Microbiol. 2017 Oct 2

Imidazoquinoxaline derivative EAPB0503: A promising drug targeting mutant nucleophosmin 1 in acute myeloid leukemia.
Nabbouh AI, Hleihel RS, Saliba JL, Karam MM, Hamie MH, Wu HJM, Berthier CP, Tawil NM, Bonnet PA, Deleuze-Masquefa C, El Hajj H
Cancer. 2017 May 1

Toxoplasma gondii autophagy-related protein ATG9 is crucial for the survival of parasites in their host.
El Hajj H*,Nguyen HM*, El Hajj R, Tawil N, Berry L, Lebrun M, Bordat Y, Besteiro S.
Cell Microbiol. 2017 Jun 19

Retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide trigger degradation of mutated NPM1, resulting in apoptosis of AML cells.
El Hajj H, Dassouki Z, Berthier C, Raffoux E, Ades L, Legrand O, Hleihel R, Sahin U, Tawil N, Salameh A, Zibara K, Darwiche N, Mohty M, Dombret H, Fenaux P, de Thé H, Bazarbachi A.
Blood. 2015 May 28

Therapy-induced selective loss of leukemia-initiating activity in murine adult T cell leukemia.
El Hajj HEl-Sabban M, Hasegawa H, Zaatari G, Ablain J, Saab ST, Janin A, Mahfouz R, Nasr R, Kfoury Y, Nicot C, Hermine O, Hall W, de Thé H, Bazarbachi A.
J Exp Med. 2010 Dec 20​

Research Grants

2005-2006Molecular signals in the trafficking of Toxoplasma gondii protein MIC3 to the micronemes.
Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Post-doctoral grant
​2007- 2011​​
Design of new targeted therapies for HTLV-I associated adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma using SCID mice infected with lymphoma spleen cells from mice transgenic for the Tax gene of HTLV- I
Lady Memorial Trust Award (TATA) Post-doctoral grant
London- UK ​
2012-2013Targeting and understanding the back and forth switch of tachyzoites into bradyzoites in a murine model infected with Toxoplasma gondii
American University of Beirut Start-up Fund ​
​2012-2013​Targeting and understanding the back and forth switch of tachyzoites into bradyzoites in a murine model infected with Toxoplasma gondii
American University of Beirut Seed Grant
2013-2015​​Caractérisation moléculaire de la réactivation des bradyzoites en tachyzoites chez le parasite protozoaire apicomplexe Toxoplasma gondii.
Cèdre Fund
2014-2016​​Is the bradyzoite marker P18 involved in modulating the reactivation of neurotoxoplasmosis?
American University of Beirut Medical Practice Plan
2015-2017​Understanding the role of the bradyzoite marker p18 in neurotoxoplasmosis
Lebanese National Research Council CNRS-L ​
2016-2019​Toxoplasma gondii P18 bradyzoite marker: Dissection of the interplay between the parasite and the host immune response modulation in latent neurotoxoplasmosis
American University of Beirut Medical Practice Plan ​
​2017-2019 Seeking for novel treatment strategies against acute, chronic and congenital toxoplasmosis
CNRS-L/AUB Awards ​
​ ​​Co-Investigator Grants​​
2012-2014 Understanding the Molecular Mechanisms of Action of Targeted Therapies on the Eradication of Leukemia Stem Cells in HTLV-I Associated Adult T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma Lebanese National Research Council ​​
​2013-2015​Targeted Therapy of Adult T Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma by the Novel Synthetic Retinoid ST1926
​Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research
​Lead PI Dr Nadine Darwishe
2013-2016Pathophysiology of HTLV-I associated adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma and mechanism of action of targeted therapies.
American University of Beirut- Medical Practice Plan
American University of Beirut- University Research Board,​ Lead PI Dr Ali Bazarbachi ​
2013-2016​Thymoquinone Combination with Conventional and Targeted Drugs: A Therapeutic Approach against Adult T-Cell Leukemia
University Reseach Board, Lead PI Dr Hala Ghali-Muhtasib
​2014-2016​Investigating the Pathophysiology of Adult T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma and the Role of Post Translational Modification of the Tax Oncoprotein Following Arsenic/Interferon Treatment Lebanese National Research Council
​2015-2017Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: Combining pre-clinical and clinical data for better control, diagnosis and treatment paradigm
American University of Beirut- Medical Practice Plan, Lead PI Dr Ibrahim Khalifeh ​
​​2015-2017Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: in vitro and in vivo preclinical models for new treatment strategies
Lebanese National Research Council CNRS-L, Lead PI Dr Ibrahim Khalifeh ​
​​2015-2017Effet de l’imiquimode et ses dérivés, l'EAPB0203 et l'EAPB0503, sur la leishmaniose cutanée: nouvelles horizons vers un meilleur paradigme de traitement
Cèdr​e Fund, ​Lead PI Dr Ibrahim Khalifeh ​



Pre-doctoral award by MNRT (Minister of State for Research and Technology) offered by the French Ministry for High Education (France).

Award to attend the intensive Biology of Parasitism Summer Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, USA.
​Award from the committee of the HTLV-I meeting in Japan.
​May7th, 2015

One of the four AUB inventor professors in the Fourth Kamal A. Shair Central Research Science Laboratory (KAS CRSL) research conference “Innovative research and creativity at AUB, 2015” on Arsenic: A reviving weapon against leukemias
October 21st, 2015​

The 2015 L’Oréal UNESCO For Women In Science Levant And Egypt Fellowships (10000 Euros) on “Targeted therapy of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with nucleophosmin-1 mutation (NPM-1)”
​March 24th, 2016

The 2016 Rising Talents L’Oréal UNESCO for Women In Science Award (15000 Euros) on “Targeted therapy of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with nucleophosmin-1 mutation (NPM-1)”.
December 12th, 2016

​Prix d’excellence scientifique franco-libanais by « la Société des membres de la Légion d'honneur (SMLH) »                                       

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