Syed Yousuf Zafar, MD

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine
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


Zafar, S Yousuf, Rebecca B. McNeil, Catherine M. Thomas, Christopher S. Lathan, John Z. Ayanian, and Dawn Provenzale. “Population-based assessment of cancer survivors' financial burden and quality of life: a prospective cohort study.” J Oncol Pract 11, no. 2 (March 2015): 145–50.

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Irwin, Blair, Gretchen Kimmick, Ivy Altomare, P Kelly Marcom, Kevin Houck, S Yousuf Zafar, and Jeffrey Peppercorn. “Patient experience and attitudes toward addressing the cost of breast cancer care.” In Oncologist, 19:1135–40, 2014.

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Bestvina, Christine M., Leah L. Zullig, and S. Yousuf Zafar. “The implications of out-of-pocket cost of cancer treatment in the USA: a critical appraisal of the literature.” Future Oncol 10, no. 14 (November 2014): 2189–99.

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Taylor, Donald H., Marion Danis, S Yousuf Zafar, Lynn J. Howie, Gregory P. Samsa, Steven P. Wolf, and Amy P. Abernethy. “There is a mismatch between the medicare benefit package and the preferences of patients with cancer and their caregivers.” J Clin Oncol 32, no. 28 (October 1, 2014): 3163–68.

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Smith, Sophia K., Jonathan Nicolla, and S Yousuf Zafar. “Bridging the gap between financial distress and available resources for patients with cancer: a qualitative study.” J Oncol Pract 10, no. 5 (September 2014): e368–72.

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Rangwala, Fatima, Johanna C. Bendell, Mark F. Kozloff, Christy C. Arrowood, Andrew Dellinger, Jennifer Meadows, Sandra Tourt-Uhlig, et al. “Phase I study of capecitabine, oxaliplatin, bevacizumab, and everolimus in advanced solid tumors.” Invest New Drugs 32, no. 4 (August 2014): 700–709.

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Danis, Marion, Amy P. Abernethy, S Yousuf Zafar, Gregory P. Samsa, Steven P. Wolf, Lynn Howie, and Donald H. Taylor. “A decision exercise to engage cancer patients and families in deliberation about Medicare coverage for advanced cancer care.” Bmc Health Serv Res 14 (July 19, 2014): 315.

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Zafar, S Yousuf, James A. Tulsky, and Amy P. Abernethy. “It's time to have 'the talk': cost communication and patient-centered care.” Oncology (Williston Park) 28, no. 6 (June 2014): 479–80.