Neil Desai, M.D.

Director of Clinical Research, Radiation Oncology

  • Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Genitourinary Cancer
  • Brachytherapy


Neil Desai, M.D., M.H.S., is an Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Radiation Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He specializes in the treatment of genitourinary cancers, which includes cancer of the bladder, kidneys, urethra, prostate, and testes.

Dr. Desai earned his medical degree at Yale University, where he also conducted cancer biology research that led to a master’s degree. He completed residency training in radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

His clinical interests include finding improved treatments for bladder cancer and prostate cancer. He also specializes in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma patients.

Dr. Desai has authored or co-authored several articles in prominent medical journals, including the Cancer Research and The Journal of Urology.

Meet Dr. Desai

Genitourinary and hematologic cancer specialist in Dallas

Neil Desai, M.D., M.H.S., considers it a privilege to treat patients with cancer. He says he remains inspired by his physician-scientist mentors, who demonstrated not only the great potential of bringing advances to the clinic but also the humbling need to keep a patient’s goals and values in highest focus. Dr. Desai does both as a specialist in genitourinary and hematologic malignancies and as an expert who strives to match the ideal treatment to each patient’s disease.

Between his time at Dartmouth College and Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Desai participated in research to help determine which patients would benefit from a new class of targeted cancer drugs, and he helped develop new technologies for detecting the genetic alterations that determine a tumor’s aggressiveness.

During his residency training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he investigated how to apply specific treatments – including radiotherapy – to patients by considering factors such as disease biology and risk. His work culminated in the nationally recognized laboratory of David Solit, M.D., under whom he examined the impact of genetic alterations in the DNA damage response on the success of bladder-preserving chemoradiation for bladder cancer.

Here at UT Southwestern, Dr. Desai is committed to developing and participating in clinical trials designed to improve treatments for patients with genitourinary and hematologic cancers. He has a particular interest in prostate and bladder cancers, for which he notes that the need to improve treatment selection for a patient is as important as increasing treatment efficacy.

“We have well-recognized urology and medical oncology programs at UT Southwestern,” Dr. Desai notes. “By partnering with patients, we can offer a comprehensive spectrum of proven cancer treatments, as well as newer therapies still in development that are not available elsewhere.

“Likewise, our radiation oncology department has a wealth of technology – we are known for being early adopters,” he says. “We can offer patients the very latest treatment options, and just as importantly, we do so only by vetting them with the prospective trials and transparency that are found only at top-tier academic institutions. My goal is to match patients with the best treatment for them as individuals after taking their goals into account.”

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Education & Training
  • Residency - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2011-2015), Radiation Oncology
  • Internship - Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (2010-2011), Transitional Year
  • Medical School - Yale University School of Medicine (2005-2010)
Honors & Awards
  • Texas Super Doctors, Rising Star 2021
  • Texas Super Doctors, Rising Star 2020
Books & Publications
  • Prostate cancer: management of post-operative patients with recurrent disease, assessing the impact of androgen receptor variants on radiotherapy and hormone therapy for prostate cancer, and sexual function following radiotherapy.
  • Lymphoma: collaboration with other institutions to explore the role of radiotherapy in those with the recently defined double-hit lymphoma. In addition, Dr. Desai is the principal investigator on a trial at UTSW exploring combination of immunotherapy checkpoint blockade with total skin radiation therapy for advanced cutaneous lymphoma.

Clinical Focus

  • Genitourinary Cancer
  • Brachytherapy
  • Radiation Therapy for Genitourinary Cancer
  • Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
  • Radiation Therapy for Kidney Cancer
  • Radiation Therapy for Bladder Cancer
  • Radiation Therapy for Testicular Cancer

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Q&A by Dr. Desai

2020 Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Neil Desai