Ralph Abi-Habib

Associate Professor of Biology
Director of Sponsored Programs

Dr. Ralph J. Abi-Habib is an associate professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Department of Natural Sciences. He received his MSc in Biochemistry from the American University of Beirut, and his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Bowman-Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. He joined LAU as a full-time faculty member in spring 2009.

Research Interests

His research interests include the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis, selectable tumor markers and the selective targeting of cancer using a number of tumor-specific therapeutic approaches. Currently, his research is focused on targeting arginine auxotrophy in a number of tumor types, most notably AML and GBM, using a recombinant human arginase I [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000], in addition to investigating the mechanism of activation of autophagy and its contribution to arginine deprivation-induced cell death. He is also investigating the potential of targeting the MAPK pathway in AML cells using both native anthrax lethal toxin (PrAg/LF) and several recombinant versions of PrAg/LF with several additional tumor selective characteristics. His research has been published in international journals and conference presentations and it has been widely acknowledged.

SDGs Research Mapping

Dr. Ralph Abi-Habib conducts research relevant to the following SDGs:

Selected Publications

  1. Khalil N, Abi-Habib RJ. [HuArgI (co)-PEG5000]-induced arginine deprivation leads to autophagy dependent cell death in pancreatic cancer cells. Invest New Drugs. 2019 Dec 10. doi: 10.1007/s10637-019-00883-4.
  2. Al-Koussa H, Al-Haddad M, Abi-Habib RJ, El-Sibai M. Human Recombinant Arginase I [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000]-induced arginine depletion inhibits colorectal cancer cell migration and invasion. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Nov 29;20(23). doi: 10.3390/ijms20236018.
  3. Nasreddine G, El-Sibai M, Abi-Habib RJ. Cytotoxicity of [HuArgI (co)-PEG5000]-induced arginine deprivation to ovarian Cancer cells is autophagy dependent. Invest New Drugs. 2019 Mar 18. doi: 10.1007/s10637-019-00756-w.
  4. Bekdash A, Darwish M, Timsah Z, Kassab E, Ghanem H, Najjar V, Ghosn M, Nasser S, El-Hajj H, Bazerbachi A, Liu SH, Leppla SH, Frankel AE, Abi-Habib RJ. Phospho-MEK1/2 and uPAR Expression Determine Sensitivity of AML Blasts to a Urokinase-Activated Anthrax Lethal Toxin (PrAgU2/LF). Transl. Oncol. 2015 Oct;5(8):347-357.
  5. Khoury O, Ghazale N, Stone E, El-Sibai M, Frankel AE, Abi-Habib RJ. Human Recombinant Arginase I (Co)-PEG5000 [HuArgI (Co)-PEG5000]-Induced Arginine Depletion is Selectively Cytotoxic to Human Glioblastoma Cells. Journal of Neuro-oncology. 2015 Mar;122(1):75-85
  6. Tanios R, Bekdash A, Kassab E, Stone E, Georgiou G, Frankel AE, Abi-Habib RJ. Human recombinant arginase I(Co)-PEG5000 [HuArgI(Co)-PEG5000]-induced arginine depletion is selectively cytotoxic to human acute myeloid leukemia cells. Leuk Res. 2013 Nov;37(11):1565-71
  7. Kassab E, Darwish M, Timsah Z, Liu SH, Leppla SH, Frankel AE and Abi-Habib RJ. Cytotoxicity of Anthrax Lethal Toxin to Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells is Non-apoptotic and Dependent on Extracellular Regulated Kinase 1/2 Activity. Transl. Oncol. 2013 Feb;6(1):25-32.
  8. Abi-Habib RJ, Singh R, Liu S, Bugge TH, Leppla SH, Frankel AE. A urokinase-activated recombinant anthrax toxin is selectively cytotoxic to many human tumor cell types. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 2006 Oct;5(10):2556-62.
  9. Abi-Habib RJ, Urieto JO, Liu SH, Leppla SH, Duesbery NS, Frankel AE. BRAF status and MEK1/2 activity indicate sensitivity of melanoma cells to anthrax lethal toxin. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. 2005 Sep;4(9):1303-10.
  10. Abi-Habib RJ, Liu SH, Bugge TH, Leppla SH, Frankel AE. A urokinase activated-recombinant diphtheria toxin targeting the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor is selectively cytotoxic to human acute myeloid leukemia blasts. Blood. 104 (7): 2143-2148, 2004.

Academic Degrees 

  • PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Wake Forest University Bowman-Gray School of Medicine, NC, USA
  • MS in Biochemistry, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
  • BS in Biology, Lebanese University