Dr. Alex Spira is the director of the Research Institute and Phase I Trial Program at Virginia Cancer Specialists, helping pioneer advances in cancer treatment.
He specializes in lung malignancies that include pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Throughout Spira’s career, he has been recognized as an innovative researcher and an excellent clinician. He received the Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctor Award in 2014 and has been recognized several times as a top doctor by Northern Virginia Magazine and Washington Magazine.
His work with the multidisciplinary team at Virginia Cancer Specialists has allowed many cancer patients to thrive, despite an original diagnosis that suggested otherwise.
“We have a lot of patients who were supposed to be doing poorly — originally given a fatal diagnosis — but now are coming into our office with pictures of their grandkids, and that’s a great thing to see,” he said. “It’s nice to offer them hope, where otherwise there was no hope, offer them opportunity, when they didn’t have opportunity before.”
In 2021, Spira expanded the Phase I and developmental therapeutics cancer research program at Virginia Cancer Specialists by partnering with NEXT Oncology to bring the latest in new agents and anticancer treatments to its research institute.
Leader in Immunotherapy Treatment
In addition to the most up-to-date standard treatment, Spira often offers patients novel therapies through clinical trials at VCS.
Many of those trials involve immunotherapy drugs, which many consider the future of cancer treatment.
“Our passion in caring for these patients often comes from the fact that these cancers are incredibly aggressive. The patients are sick,” he said. “We can offer them hope and treatment they can’t find anywhere else.”
A Passion for Research
As a research leader, Spira has stressed personalized treatment and targeted therapies. He is the co-chair of the U.S. Oncology Thoracic Committee and chair of the U.S. Oncology Research Executive Committee.
He also serves as an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Spira earned his degree from the New York University School of Medicine. He completed an internship and residency at the University of Pennsylvania, where he trained at the Abramson Cancer Center.
He also did a medical oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins. He received his Ph.D. from the NYU College of Arts and Sciences.
He is affiliated today with Inova Fairfax Hospital and Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.