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Indian American Scientists Awarded for Cancer Research Discoveries by SAASCR

Indian American Scientists Awarded for Cancer Research Discoveries by SAASCR
June 03
18:51 2021

India Post News Service

Eight Indian scientists were honored for their contributions in cancer research by the Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research (SAASCR) on May 17, 2021. 

The Society of American Asian Scientists in Cancer Research is a non-profit, non-political organization registered in the state of California in 2004 and has more than 5000 members. All our members are also members of American Association for Cancer Research. SAASCR scientists are from Asia, mainly of Indian origin, and working in the U.S. and Canada in the field of cancer research and fully sponsored by the biotechnology company.

Dr. Rajvir Dahiya, the president of SAASCR, presented awards to these scientists on May 17th 2021 in during American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. Dr. Rajvir Dahiya is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. Dr. Dharam Pal Chauhan is a secretary of SAASCR.

Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD, 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. Dr. Bhardwaj, Director of Immunotherapy at The Tisch Cancer Institute, 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.

Dr. Bhardwaj brings expertise in human immunology and a variety of immune therapies, having developed toll-like receptor (TLR) agonist- and dendritic cell-based vaccines for the treatment of both cancer and infection in several investigator-initiated studies, and, more recently, introduction of neoantigen vaccines into the clinic. Dr. Bhardwaj 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. Dr. Bhardwaj has attracted multiple federal and foundation grants and has authored over 250 publications.

Dipanjan Chowdhury, PhD, 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. Dr. Chowdhury is a recipient of several academic awards; Dr. Chowdhury is a former fellow of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Scholar Award.

He has also received the American Cancer Society’s Basic Science Scholar Award. His work is supported by the NIH and several cancer foundations. On the translation research side, 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. Dr. Chowdhury received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from St. Xavier’s College, his Master of Science in biochemistry from Calcutta University, India, and his Doctor of Philosophy in molecular biology from Brandeis University. He did his post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School in the Center for Blood Research.

Sooryanarayana Varambally, Ph.D., is a Professor of Pathology, Director of Integrative Translational Oncologic Pathology Research, Co-Director of the Graduate Biomedical Sciences (Cancer Biology), 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.

Hailing from Brahmavar in Udupi district in Karnataka, Dr. Varambally did his PhD in Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore before doing a post-doctoral training in immunology with at INSERM unit in Paris, France. He then moved to the University of Michigan and 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. His team has built a highly utilized discovery platform called UALCAN ( for cancer genomic and proteomic data analysis.

Arti Shukla, Ph.D. is Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont. She is full member of Vermont Cancer Center, UVM. Arti received her B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. She received Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) fellowship during her PhD. Arti did her post- doctoral associateship from Mental Health Research Institute (MHRI), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Following post-doc training, Arti joined Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, India, and worked there for several years before joining Pathology Department at UVM in Dec 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.

Koyamangalath Krishnan, MD 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 MD from PGI Chandigarh, trained in medicine and hematology at the National Health Service, and Hammersmith Hospital, UK and hematology-oncology fellowship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

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 U of Michigan and the mechanisms of gamma-tocotrienol as a cancer preventive.

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. He is the recipient of several grants including DOD, CDC and NIH funding. Dr. Krishnan is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology and the American Association of Cancer Research. He also is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom

Pran K Datta, PhD Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine / Division Hematology / Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received his Ph.D. from Bose Institute, Kolkata, India in Organic Chemistry. 

After finishing his postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, USA, Datta joined the Division of Surgical Oncology at Vanderbilt University as a tenure track Assistant Professor.  He was promoted to tenured Associate Professor there.  Then he moved to 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.

Rakesh K. Singh, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. He also serves as Vice-chair for Graduate Education and a member of Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center. He earned his B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.  After completing his postdoctoral training (1994) at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and 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. 

Rajagopal Ramesh, PhD Presbyterian Health Foundation Presidential Professor and Jim and Christy Everest Endowed Chair in Cancer Developmental Therapeutics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, followed by Post-doctoral training at Tulane Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana.

He subsequently joined 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, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He currently serves as the Chair of the “Nanotechnology” study section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His translational

cancer research program focuses in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer using nanotechnology and exosome technology. His laboratory research has been successfully translated to the clinic for lung cancer treatment.

Contact information about the awardees: Nina Bhardwaj M.D., Ph.D., Email: [email protected] / Dipanjan Chowdhury, Ph.D., Email: [email protected] / Sooryanarayana Varambally, Ph.D. Email: [email protected]; Arti Shukla, Ph.D., Email: [email protected] / Koyamangalath Krishnan, MD, Email: [email protected] / Pran K. Datta, Ph.D., E-mail: [email protected] / Rakesh K. Singh, Ph.D., E-mail: [email protected] / Rajagopal Ramesh, Ph.D., E-mail: [email protected]



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