saascr 2021 award

Eight Indian American scientists recently were honored for their contributions to cancer research by the Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research. Pictured (upper panel, left to right): Dr. Nina Bhardwaj, Dr. Dipanjan Chowdhury, Dr. Rajvir Dahiya (SAASCR president); Dr. Dharam Paul Chauhan (SAASCR secretary); and Dr. Sooryanarayana Varambally; (lower panel, left to right): Dr. Arti Shukla; Dr. Koyamangalath Krishnan; Dr. Pran K Datta; Dr. Rakesh K Singh; and Dr. Rajagopal Ramesh. (photo provided)

The Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research May 17 announced that it has recognized eight Indian American scientists for their superb cancer research.

The announcement comes a little over a month after the SAASCR acknowledged 10 Indian Americans for the same honor – the 2020 honorees who were not recognized last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic (see India-West article here: https://bit.ly/3wwnyjJ).

Dr. Rajvir Dahiya, president of SAASCR and professor emeritus of U.C. San Francisco, presented the 2021 awards to the new group of scientists on May 17 during the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.

The awardees were Drs. Nina Bhardwaj, Dipanjan Chowdhury, Sooryanarayana Varambally, Arti Shukla, Koyamangalath Krishnan, Pran K. Datta, Rakesh K. Singh and Rajagopal Ramesh.

Bhardwaj holds the Ward-Coleman chair in cancer research and is a professor of medicine, hematology and oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Director of immunotherapy at The Tisch Cancer Institute, Bhardwaj is an immunologist who has made seminal contributions to human dendritic cell biology, specifically with respect to their isolation, subset discovery, immunobiology, antigen presenting function, and use as vaccine adjuvants in humans, her bio notes.

She is also the founder and medical director of the Vaccine and Cell Therapy Lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the first enterprise of its kind in the New York region.

Chowdhury is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and the Department of Immunology at Harvard Medical School.

He is the chief of the Division of Radiation and Genome Stability in the Department of Radiation Oncology and co-director of the Center for BRCA and Related Genes at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

He has also received the American Cancer Society’s Basic Science Scholar Award. The Chowdhury laboratory has developed a platform to use serum microRNAs as non-invasive biomarkers for various pathological conditions including early detection of ovarian cancer, his bio notes.

Varambally is a professor of Pathology, Director of Integrative Translational Oncologic Pathology Research, co-director of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences, scientist at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and at Informatics Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He is also an adjunct faculty at the University of Michigan and The Kastruba Medical College at Mangalore, India.

It was at the University of Michigan that he started his cancer research career working in the area of cancer genomics, epigenetics, cancer biology and therapeutic targeting. He has published over 130 scientific articles, many of them in high impact journals like Nature, Science, Cancer Cell, Nature Medicine, JAMA and Cancer Research among others.

He was part of the team that won the Inaugural American Association of Cancer Research Team Science Award in 2007 and he received the faculty recognition award from the University of Michigan in 2009.

Shukla is professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

Shukla did her post-doctoral associateship from Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan. Following post-doc training, she joined the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, India, and worked there for several years before joining Pathology Department at UVM in December 2001.

At UVM she is studying pathogenesis of malignant mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos. Her goal is to find biomarkers for early detection of mesothelioma as well as to develop therapeutic strategies for this cancer, the bio said.

Krishnan holds the Dishner Chair of Excellence in Medicine at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City.

He is a professor in the Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, where he also directs the Trainee Scholarship Program. He graduated from the University of Madras, Kilpauk Medical College, completed his medical degree from PGI Chandigarh, trained in medicine and hematology at the National Health Service, and Hammersmith Hospital in the U.K. and hematology-oncology fellowship at the University of Michigan.

An active researcher, he has worked on the mechanisms of cancer preventive drugs over the last 25 years. He was involved in the pioneering dose-seeking and biomarker modulation studies with aspirin as a cancer chemopreventive at the University of Michigan and the mechanisms of gamma-tocotrienol as a cancer preventive, his bio said.

He continues to work actively pursuing the mechanisms of promising cancer preventive drugs and is currently focused on tocotrienols, metformin and statins and bitter-melon.

Datta is a professor of medicine at the Department of Medicine/Division Hematology/Oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He received his doctorate from Bose Institute in Kolkata in organic chemistry. After finishing his postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Datta joined the Division of Surgical Oncology at Vanderbilt University as a tenure track assistant professor, his bio said.

He was promoted to tenured associate professor there, then he moved to the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a tenured full professor and director of research in the Division of Hematology and Oncology.

Datta’s research focused on studying the role of oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes and miRNAs in lung and colon cancer progression, metastasis, and drug resistance. His research has been continuously funded by NIH/NCI, VA, and other private funding agencies, it said.

Singh is a professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He also serves as vice-chair for graduate education and a member of Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from Banaras Hindu University.

After completing his postdoctoral training at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, he joined the University of Nebraska Medical Center faculty in 1995 as assistant professor of pathology and microbiology, and he has been Professor since 2008. His research focus is to understand the role of the tumor microenvironment in progression and metastasis, the bio said.

Ramesh is a Presbyterian Health Foundation Presidential professor and Jim and Christy Everest Endowed Chair in Cancer Developmental Therapeutics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

He received his doctorate from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, followed by post-doctoral training at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

He subsequently joined the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where he rose from the rank of research instructor to associate professor. He is the co-leader for the Cancer Biology Program, co-director for the Nanomedicine Program, and director for the Small Animal Bioluminescence Imaging Core at the NCI-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, his bio noted.

He currently serves as the chair of the “Nanotechnology” study section of the National Institutes of Health. His translational cancer research program focuses in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer using nanotechnology and exosome technology.

SAASCR is a non-profit, non-political organization registered in the state of California in 2004 and has more than 5,000 members.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.