New Oncology Pathology Chief Named to New Jersey’s only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Nirag Jhala, MD, begins role at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Headshot of Dr. Nirag Jhala, MDNew Brunswick, N.J., March 25, 2024  – Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health have appointed Nirag Jhala, MD, as chief of the Division of Oncologic Pathology at New Jersey’s leading cancer program and only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Jhala is also vice chair for clinical operations in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He was most recently director of anatomic pathology and director of cytopathology at Temple University Hospital Inc.  and laboratory director for the Northeastern and Episcopal campuses of the Temple University Health System. He was a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine.

In this role, Jhala will coordinate oncologic pathology services for Rutgers Cancer Institute and the medical school’s Department of Pathology and provide state-of-the-art, high quality diagnostic pathology and laboratory medicine services. Jhala specializes in surgical pathology, including tumor and non-tumor pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract, hepatobiliary pathology and pancreatic pathology. His translational research interests include understanding the underlying molecular changes associated with the development of colon cancer, esophageal cancer and hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancer. 

“At Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health, our nationally recognized experts exemplify collaboration and are fueled by an unwavering focus on our patients and our mission,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, who is also the senior vice president of oncology services at RWJBarnabas Health. “We are pleased to welcome Dr. Jhala, who will add vital, comprehensive expertise to our programs.” 

“Pathology serves as a vital part of oncology care as oncologists rely heavily on pathology reports to make personalized treatment decisions for our patients,” notes H. Richard Alexander, Jr., MD, FACS, chief surgical officer, chief of surgical oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute, system director of Surgical Oncology, RWJBarnabas Health and regional director of Surgery for Monmouth Medical Center. “In addition to his many responsibilities, we recognize the invaluable leadership Dr. Jhala will bring to our pathology service as we continue to provide world class cancer care close to home.” 

Jhala earned his medical degree from Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, India. He also completed a pathology residency and thesis work at the BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad. Dr. Jhala went on to complete a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at the Allegheny University of the Health Sciences in Philadelphia, and a fellowship in the division of urologic and nephropathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. He then completed a cytopathology fellowship at the Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, and a fellowship in gastrointestinal tract pathology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“Dr. Jhala brings a wealth of knowledge and pathology expertise to our department,” says Valerie A. Fitzhugh, MD, joint chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “We’re pleased to have Dr. Jhala’s support in expanding my vision for our prestigious institutions across New Jersey and on a national and international level.” 

“I feel fortunate to begin working with such a skilled and passionate team of specialists at New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center,” notes Jhala. “I look forward to advancing the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine to provide extraordinary care for our patients in New Jersey and beyond.” 

Dr. Jhala has provided seminal contributions in the field of endoscopic and endobronchial ultrasound guided fine needle aspirations for thoracic and abdominal organs. He serves as an expert editorial board member for Liver cytopathology for the World Health Organization (WHO). He has interest in and has developed infrastructure for digital pathology solutions and its applications. His work in digital pathology space has resulted in FDA approval of medication and development of a test for identifying patients at risk of developing progressing to esophageal cancer.  

Jhala also holds editorial positions for several journals, including the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the Journal of Cytology, the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, and Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology. He is a fellow of the College of American Pathologists, a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and a member of several professional and scientific societies including the American Society of Cytology, the College of American Pathologists and the digital pathology association. 

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey 
As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, together with RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy, CAR T-cell therapy and complex surgical procedures.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit
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