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Moien Kanaan, PhD

Professor, Molecular Genetics
Dean of Science and Director
Hereditary Research Laboratory
Bethlehem University
Palestinian Authority

Current Research

  • Seeking to increase genetic screening in high risk populations in the Middle East and to understand the landscape of inherited genetic risk factors in these diverse populations.

  • Genetic profiling for genetic susceptibility for breast cancer is ongoing, while efforts are also directed at improving infrastructure and resources for genetic testing and counseling.

  • These studies are providing critical information on the inherited risk of breast and ovarian cancer in Middle Eastern women. 

Genetic analysis and medical follow-up services for breast and ovarian cancer risk are among the best in the world for Jewish women living in the Middle East. However, until very recently, no such services existed for women of other ancestries in the same region. The Middle East Breast Cancer Study is resolving these disparities. Jointly conducted by Drs. Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Moien Kanaan and Mary-Claire King, the MEBCS is a sister project of the New York Breast Cancer Study (NYBCS), directed by Dr. King, and the IBCS, also sponsored by BCRF.

Through the MEBCS, the team has established a modern genomics laboratory at Bethlehem University under the direction of Dr. Kanaan, where routine genetic testing for breast cancer patients is being conducted. The research team has enrolled and carried out genetic testing for the largest cohort of breast cancer patients of Arab ancestry in the world. They have created, and sustained, training programs in cancer genetics for Palestinian nurses and social workers, who now offer counseling for high-risk women. They have characterized the distinctive genetic risk profile in Arab women that will inform characterization of these mutations in women of all ancestries.

They continue to conduct genetic analyses from patients and tumors within this diverse group. 


Dr. Kanaan is a Professor of Molecular Genetics in the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science at Bethlehem University, Palestine and Director of the Bethlehem University Hereditary Research Laboratory (HRL), which he established in 1992. Over the last 18 years his laboratory has been investigating the genetically isolated Palestinian population and its high rate of genetically-based diseases, with a focus on hereditary hearing impairment (HHI).

Dr. Kanaan’s laboratory uses current approaches in genetics, genomics, cell biology and biochemistry in studying inherited hearing loss in a large extended Palestinian cohort and has contributed to profiling a broad spectrum of novel mutations in many genes known to cause hearing loss. His current project with Ephrat Levy-Lahad and Mary-Claire King builds on his prior work and will focus on the mutation profiling of breast cancer in the a high –risk Palestinian population. Dr. Kanaan is recognized as a leading Palestinian geneticist. He has many publications to his credit and is a recipient of many research and scientific awards. He has participated in many international research efforts and scientific networks.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Roz and Les Goldstein Award