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Under Ghannoum’s leadership, the
center has also set the standards for treating
infections. Ghannoum says his proudest
moment was learning that his work had
helped save a baby’s life in Italy.
“As a scientist, you don’t always realize
you’re having an impact on people’s lives,” he
But Ghannoum says he realized a long
time ago that a scientist needs to go beyond
grants and work closer with industry to move
the needle in any field.
“It’s helped me greatly to have this
diversified portfolio (of funding),” he says.
“It’s not about just your academic degrees.
You need to be business savvy.”
He is now passing that wisdom on to
the next generation. Ghannoum, who also
has a master’s in business administration from
CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management,
collaborated with Weatherhead two years ago
to create a new class for medical students.
During a four-year concentration, Ghannoum
teaches students how to take their health
care innovations to market, exposing them to
fellow innovators and funding sources.
At the end of the four years, students
will present their business plans to a group of
professionals, similar to the TV show “Shark
“We are connecting them with experts
in these areas,” he says. “This is really just to
give them an idea of what it means to be an
“If you don’t know how to run your
practice, you’re not going to survive. You
need to go beyond your medical experience.”
Seeing the Next Wave
Ghannoum’s son, Afif, guides me through
the offices of BIOHM Health LLC in downtown
Cleveland, a block from Progressive Field.
The company, launched three years ago,
combines the scientific expertise of the father
with the business experience of the son. Afif is
a lawyer, formerly with Squire Patton Boggs,
and an entrepreneur in his own right. CWRU
is a minority partner in the company.
BIOHM has two main products. The
first is a line of probiotics and supplements
designed to balance a person’s microbiome.
Afif shows me displays of bottles featuring
the BIOHM name, including one co-branded
with Ohio-based Discount Drug Mart that just
shipped to market.
The company also offers a testing
service using CWRU’s labs. Customers send
in fecal samples and get a detailed report
on their own microbiome plus advice from
a nutritionist on how to get it into balance.
So far, BIOHM has collected thousands of
samples, creating a database that Mahmoud
believes will lead to additional partnerships
as other companies seek to develop
therapies for the microbiome.
“That’s where he’s great as a scientist,
his ability to see the next wave,” his son says.
Part of Afif’s role is being the voice of
reason, his father adds. “He’s a lawyer, so
he tries to restrain me a lot,” Ghannoum says
with a laugh. “But we’re a close family.
We have fun.”
Despite his workload, Ghannoum still
finds time to spend time with Marie, three
children, and four grandchildren. Often it’s
leisurely walks with his dog, Prince, near
their Parkland Drive home; sometimes it’s
strenuous hikes in the Cuyahoga Valley
National Park with the grandchildren. And
once, three years ago, it was jumping out of
an airplane with his youngest son, Adam,
an avid skydiver.
“He’s going to turn 70
this year and he’s up for
whatever,” says Afif.