Syed Yousuf Zafar, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences
Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute
Core Faculty Member, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute
Campus mail Duke Box 3505, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 684-8111
Email address

Dr. Zafar is a gastrointestinal medical oncologist and Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Policy, and Population Health Science at the Duke Cancer Institute and Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. He serves as Director of Healthcare Innovation at the Duke Cancer Institute. Dr. Zafar also serves as Clinical Associate Director of Duke Forge (Health Data Science Center). Dr. Zafar is considered an international expert in identifying and intervening upon the financial burden of cancer care. His research explores ways to improve cancer care delivery with a primary focus on improving the value of cancer treatment from both patient-focused and policy perspectives.

Dr. Zafar speaks internationally on his research and cancer care delivery. He has over 100 publications in top peer-reviewed journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and JAMA Oncology. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society, among others. His work has been covered by national media outlets including New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Washington Post. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

In Their Words

Education and Training

  • Fellow in Hematology-Oncology, Medicine, Duke University, 2005 - 2008
  • Resident, Medicine, University of Cincinnati, 2002 - 2005
  • M.D., The University of Toledo, 2002


Tarnasky, Aaron M., George N. Tran, Jonathan Nicolla, Fred A. P. Friedman, Steven Wolf, Jesse D. Troy, Anthony D. Sung, et al. “Mobile Application to Identify Cancer Treatment-Related Financial Assistance: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Jco Oncol Pract, April 2, 2021, OP2000757.

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Kelly, Ronan J., Jaffer A. Ajani, Jaroslaw Kuzdzal, Thomas Zander, Eric Van Cutsem, Guillaume Piessen, Guillermo Mendez, et al. “Adjuvant Nivolumab in Resected Esophageal or Gastroesophageal Junction Cancer.” N Engl J Med 384, no. 13 (April 1, 2021): 1191–1203.

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Strickler, John H., Christel N. Rushing, Hope E. Uronis, Michael A. Morse, Donna Niedzwiecki, Gerard C. Blobe, Ashley N. Moyer, et al. “Cabozantinib and Panitumumab for RAS Wild-Type Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.” Oncologist, January 19, 2021.

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Hussaini, SM Qasim, Fumiko Chino, Christel Rushing, Greg Samsa, Ivy Altomare, Jonathan Nicolla, Jeffrey Peppercorn, and S Yousuf Zafar. “Does Cancer Treatment-Related Financial Distress Worsen Over Time?” N C Med J 82, no. 1 (January 2021): 14–20.

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Moss, Haley A., Jenny Wu, Samantha J. Kaplan, and S Yousuf Zafar. “The Affordable Care Act's Medicaid Expansion and Impact Along the Cancer-Care Continuum: A Systematic Review.” J Natl Cancer Inst 112, no. 8 (August 1, 2020): 779–91.

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Lou, Emil, Muhammad Shaalan Beg, Emily Bergsland, Cathy Eng, Alok A. Khorana, Scott Kopetz, Sam Lubner, Leonard Saltz, Veena Shankaran, and S Yousuf Zafar. “BRAF-Mutated Metastatic Colon Cancers During COVID-19 Pandemic Reply.” Jco Oncology Practice 16, no. 8 (August 1, 2020): 526-+.


Lou, Emil, Muhammad Shaalan Beg, Emily Bergsland, Cathy Eng, Alok A. Khorana, Scott Kopetz, Sam Lubner, Leonard Saltz, Veena Shankaran, and S Yousuf Zafar. “Reply to S. Boutayeb et al.” Jco Oncol Pract 16, no. 8 (August 2020): 525.

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Lou, Emil, Shaalan Beg, Emily Bergsland, Cathy Eng, Alok Khorana, Scott Kopetz, Sam Lubner, Leonard Saltz, Veena Shankaran, and S Yousuf Zafar. “Modifying Practices in GI Oncology in the Face of COVID-19: Recommendations From Expert Oncologists on Minimizing Patient Risk.” Jco Oncol Pract 16, no. 7 (July 2020): 383–88.

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Khera, Nandita, Jessica Sugalski, Diana Krause, Richard Butterfield, Nan Zhang, F Marc Stewart, Robert W. Carlson, Joan M. Griffin, S Yousuf Zafar, and Stephanie J. Lee. “Current Practices for Screening and Management of Financial Distress at NCCN Member Institutions.” J Natl Compr Canc Netw 18, no. 7 (July 2020): 825–31.

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