SAASCR Honorees

Eight Indian American scientists were honored for their outstanding contribution in cancer research by the Society of Asian American Scientists in Cancer Research: (l-r) Dr. Arun Kumar Rishi, Dr. Lalita Shevde-Samant, Dr. Subhash C Chauhan, Dr. Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, SAASCR president Dr. Rajvir Dahiya, SAASCR secretary Dr. Dharam Paul Chauhan, Dr. Balaraman Kalyanaraman, Dr. Tayyaba Hasan, Dr. Anirban Maitra, and Dr. Priyabrata Mukherjee. (photo provided)

The Society of Asian American Scientists in Cancer Research recently presented awards to eight Indian American physicians for their outstanding contributions to cancer research, who were recognized at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting April 14-18 in Chicago.

The awards were presented by SAASCR president Dr. Rajvir Dahiya at an April 15 ceremony in the midst of the weeklong conference.

The scientists honored include Arun Kumar Rishi, Lalita Shevde-Samant, Subhash C. Chauhan, Selvarangan Ponnazhagan, Balaraman Kalyanaraman, Tayyaba Hasan, Anirban Maitra and Priyabrata Mukherjee.

Rishi is a professor at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Oncology Department of the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. In addition, Rishi has been working as a Health Science Specialist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs since 2001, and appointed as a Research Career Scientist in 2017.

He obtained his master’s in biochemistry from University College London and a doctorate in molecular biology from Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine in London.

Shevde-Samant is a professor in the Department of Pathology and senior scientist in the NCI designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to serving as director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program, Shevde-Samanta also serves in the role of associate director for education and training for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Chauhan is a tenured professor in the Pharmaceutical Science Department and Pathology Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Chauhan is also a founding director of the Institute of Biomarker and Molecular Therapeutics. Chauhan has received his doctorate degree from the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow and completed postdoctoral training in cancer biology from University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Ponnazhagan is a tenured professor in pathology department at University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also holds the first endowed professorship in experimental cancer therapeutics for his contribution and accomplishment in cancer research. Ponnazhagan received his doctorate degree in genetics from the University of Madras and post-doctoral training at the Indian University Medical Center, prior to joining the University of Alabama at Birmingham as faculty.

Kalyanaraman received his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and postdoctoral training at the NIEHS in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. In 1981, he joined the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he serves as chairman and professor of biophysics.

In 2000 he founded MCW’s Free Radical Research Center. He co-directs the MCW Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology program and directs the Redox & Bioenergetics Shared Resource. He has received the International EPR Society Silver Medal for Outstanding Research in the Application of EPR in Biology and Medicine, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine and was named the Harry R. & Angeline E. Quadracci professor in Parkinson’s Research and an honorary professor of medicine by the School of Medicine at the University of the Republic in Montevideo in Uruguay.

Hasan is a professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and a professor of health sciences and technology. The focus of her research is in photochemical approaches to treatment and diagnosis of disease primarily in the areas of cancer and infections. She has over 248 publications and 23 inventions from research funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and industry grants.

Hasan leads an NCI-funded multinational program project grant focused on image-guided treatment of pancreatic and skin cancers; and is an inventor of the FDA approved photodynamic treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and several other applications in the fields of cancer, infections and technology. In recognition for her contribution to translational work and other discoveries she was the recipient of the NIH Pioneer Award in Biomedical Optics, Bench to Bedside Translation.

Maitra is a professor of pathology and translational molecular pathology and deputy division head for academic science in the Division of Pathology/Lab Medicine and scientific director of the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston.

Previously, Maitra was professor of pathology and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Maitra graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences with a MBBS degree in 1996. He then completed a residency in Anatomic Pathology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, followed by fellowships in pediatric and molecular pathology at the same institute, and a combined clinical and research fellowship in GI Pathology at Johns Hopkins University. He then joined the faculty at Hopkins as assistant professor in 2003, becoming full professor in 2010.

Mukherjee is a tenured professor within the Department of Pathology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. Mukherjee is a TSET Scholar in cancer research and also holds Peggy and Charles Stephenson Endowed Chair in Laboratory Cancer Research. Mukherjee is the associate director of translational research in the Stephenson Cancer Center.

Before joining OUHSC Mukherjee was an associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Mayo Clinic Rochester. Mukherjee received his doctorate in chemistry in 2001 from the University of Pune, followed by postdoctoral fellowships at Texas Christian University, Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic.

SAASCR is registered in California and has more than 5,000 scientists from Asian origin and working in the U.S. and Canada in the field of cancer research.

The society said that all its members are outstanding scientists and making a significant impact in discovering novel biomarkers for the early diagnosis, prognosis, risk assessment of various cancers, as well as discovering novel drugs for the management, treatment and prevention of various malignancies.

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