Northwell taps MSK veteran to head cancer programs

Big move: After rising through the ranks of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for the better part of three decades, Richard Barakat has been selected to head up cancer operations for Northwell Health.

After a three-decade career at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, an internationally renowned surgeon will take the reins of Northwell Health’s vast network of cancer services and research.

Following a national search and recruitment effort, the New Hyde Park-based health system has appointed Richard Barakat physician-in-chief and director of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute and senior vice president of Northwell’s Cancer Service Line.

Barakat, who also becomes a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, is expected to join Northwell Health April 30, following 27 years at Manhattan’s MSK Cancer Center.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, the internationally recognized surgeon and clinical investigator rose to director and vice chairman of the center’s regional care network and affiliations. He also was named the Ronald O. Perlman Chair in Gynecological Surgery.

Specializing in robotic and laparoscopic treatment of uterine cancer and “radical debulking” procedures (removing most but not all of a tumor) for ovarian cancer, Barakat has overseen the care of thousands of patients newly diagnosed with gynecologic cancers.

As MSK’s chief of gynecology services from 2001 to 2013, he was the lead investigator on several influential research projects, including a study comparing the benefits of laparoscopic versus standard surgeries for patients with endometrial cancer. The expert researcher also led an NIH-funded study evaluating risk factors for the development of symptomatic lower-extremity lymphedema in women undergoing radical surgery and lymphadenectomy for gynecologic cancers.

Lawrence Smith: Busy days for Northwell cancer programs.

His arrival at Northwell Health coincides with “a critical time in our long history of delivering cancer care to communities throughout the metropolitan area,” according to Northwell Executive Vice President Lawrence Smith, who also serves as the health system’s physician-in-chief and the Zucker School’s founding dean.

“Collectively, the more than 200 academic oncologists and clinicians who comprise the Northwell Health Cancer Institute diagnose and treat more than 19,000 new cancer patients every year, making us one of the largest cancer providers in the country,” Smith noted Thursday.

To further the institute’s mission, Barakat will also head up new research and treatment collaborations between Northwell Health and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The two institutions share a cancer-focused research partnership dating back to 2015.

Barakat referenced an “incredible opportunity” to “impact the care of thousands of patients with cancer, including those living on Long Island, which has been my home for the past 25 years.”

Indeed, the senior VP-to-be is a New Yorker to the bone: In addition to living on Long Island, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Queens College, an MBA from Manhattan’s Columbia University and his medical degree from Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

A former division member and examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Barakat has also served as president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the International Gynecologic Cancer Society. He has authored or co-authored more than 340 cancer-based research studies and has edited “numerous textbooks,” according to Northwell Health.