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Varsha Gandhi, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Department Chair ad interim, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Director ad interim, Center for Targeted Therapy, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Director, Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Rebecca Meyer Brown & Joseph Mellinger Brown Chair in Basic Science Research, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Professor, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Professor, Department of Leukemia, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Research Interests

1.  Development of single agent and combination therapies for leukemias

2.  Met receptor tyrosine kinase in myeloma

3.  Transcription inhibitors

4.  DNA- and RNA-directed nucleoside analogs, their mechanisms of action and development of resistance

5.  Apoptosis modulators as therapeutics (BH3-mimetics, smac-mimetics)

6.  Role of microenvironment in hematological malignancies

7.  Pim kinase expression and targeting by small molecule inhibitors



 

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1901 East Road
Unit Number: 1950
Houston, TX 77054
Room Number: 3SCR4.4121
Phone: 713-792-2989
Fax: 713-745-1710

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1981 Delhi University, Delhi, Delhi, India, Ph.D., Biochemistry
1973 Kanpur University, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, M.Sc., Botany
1971 Kanpur University, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, B.Sc., Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Experience/Service

Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Committee Member, The University of Texas Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education, Membership Committee, Houston, TX, 2014-present
Committee Member, The University of Texas Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education, Faculty Development Committee, Houston, TX, 2014-present

Endowed Positions

Rebecca Meyer Brown & Joseph Mellinger Brown Chair in Basic Science Research, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2015-present
Ruby E. Rutherford Distinguished Professorship, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, 2011-2015
Ashbel Smith Professorship, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, 2006-2011

Institutional Committee Activities

Co-leader, CLL Moon Shot Flagship Project 1: Drug Development, 2016-present
Member, Associate Professor, Department of Lymphoma & Myeloma Search Committee, 2015
Executive Committee Member, Clinical and Translational Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 2013-present
Chair, Promotion and Tenure Committee, Research Faculty Appointment Panel, 2012-present
Member, Division of Cancer Medicine Women Faculty & Fellows Initiatives Advisory Council, 2012-present
Committee Member, Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2010-present
Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program, Executive Committee Chair, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 2010-present
Program Coordinating Committee Member, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 2009-present
Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program, Director, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 2009-present
Committee Member, Faculty Mentoring Advisory Committee, 2007-present
Organizing Committee Member, Division of Cancer Medicine Grand Rounds, 2005-present

Honors and Awards

2015 The William Randolph Hearst Foundations Faculty Achievement Award in Education, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2014 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2013 Exceptional Leadership & Support as a Mentor, MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association
2013 Member, The University of Texas Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education
2013 Outstanding Women Scientist Award, American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research
2012-2013 Outstanding Service and Dedication as Program Director, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
2012 Executive Development Seminar for Interim and Aspiring Leaders, Association of American Medical Colleges
2012 The University of Texas System Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award - Health, The University of Texas System
2011-2015 Ruby E. Rutherford Distinguished Professorship, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2011 Distinguished Research Faculty Mentor Award, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2009-2010 Faculty Leadership Academy, MD Anderson Cancer Center
2009-2010 Gerald P. Bodey Award for Excellence in Education, Division of Cancer Medicine Faculty Recognition & Award Program
2007-2008 Potu N. Rao Award for Excellence in Basic Science, Division of Cancer Medicine Faculty Recognition & Award Program
2006-2011 Ashbel Smith Professorship, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2005-2006 Robert M. Chamberlain Distinguished Mentor Award, Postdoctoral Association Steering Committee, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2003-2004 Aventis Drug Development Award, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2000-2003 NIH-RAID-II Award, NIH/NCI
1999-2002 E.N. Cobb Faculty Scholar Award, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1998-2000 NIH-RAID-I Award, NIH/NCI
1976-1977 Senior Research Scholarship, University Grants Commission, University of Delhi, India
1974-1976 Junior Research Scholarship, University Grants Commission, University of Delhi, India
1973 M.Sc. Gold Medal Winner, Kanpur University, India

Professional Memberships

American Association for Cancer Research
Member, 1988-present
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow, 2014-present
Member, 1992-present
American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research
Member, 1998-present
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Member, 1991-present
American Society of Hematology
Member, 1992-present
American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
Regular Member, 9/2011-present
Indo American Cancer Association
Member, 2005-present
International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring
Member, 1995-present
International Society of Nucleosides, Nucleotides & Nucleic Acids
Member, 2000-present
Women in Cancer Research
Member, 2000-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Sarkar A, Balakrishnan K, Chen J, Patel V, Neelapu SS, McMurray JS, Gandhi V. Molecular evidence of Zn chelation of the procaspase activating compound B-PAC-1 in B cell lymphoma. Oncotarget 7(3):3461-76, 1/19/2016. e-Pub 12/2015. PMCID: PMC4823120.
2. Patel V, Keating MJ, Wierda WG, Gandhi V. Preclinical combination of TP-0903, an AXL inhibitor and B-PAC-1, a procaspase activating compound with ibrutinib in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Leuk Lymphoma 57(6):1-4, 2016. e-Pub 11/16/2015. PMCID: PMC4963009.
3. Zaman S, Wang R, Gandhi V. Targeting executioner procaspase-3 with the procaspase-activating compound B-PAC-1 induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma cells. Exp Hematol 43(11):951-962.e3, 11/2015. e-Pub 8/6/2015. PMCID: PMC4630139.
4. Cervantes-Gomez F, Lavergne B, Keating MJ, Wierda WG, Gandhi V. Combination of Pim kinase inhibitors and Bcl-2 antagonists in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Leuk Lymphoma. e-Pub 9/28/2015. PMID: 26088877.
5. Balakrishnan K, Peluso M, Fu M, Rosin NY, Burger JA, Wierda WG, Keating MJ, Faia K, O'Brien S, Kutok JL, Gandhi V. The Phosphoinositide-3-Kinase (PI3K)-Delta and Gamma Inhibitor, IPI-145, Overcomes Signals from the PI3K/AKT/S6 Pathway and Promotes Apoptosis in CLL. Leukemia 29(9):1811-22, 9/2015. e-Pub 4/2015. PMCID: PMC4558374.
6. Wang J, Yin H, Panandikar A, Gandhi V, Sen S. Elevated cyclin A associated kinase activity promotes sensitivity of metastatic human cancer cells to DNA antimetabolite drug. Int J Oncol 47(2):782-90, 8/2015. e-Pub 6/2015. PMID: 26058363.
7. Cervantes-Gomez F, Lamothe B, Woyach JA, Wierda WG, Keating MJ, Balakrishnan K, Gandhi V. Pharmacological and protein profiling suggest ABT-199 as optimal partner with ibrutinib in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Clin Cancer Res 21(16):3705-15, 8/2015. e-Pub 3/2015. PMCID: PMC4537801.
8. Zaman S, Shentu S, Yang J, He J, Orlowski RZ, Stellrecht CM, Gandhi V. Targeting the pro-survival protein MET with tivantinib (ARQ 197) inhibits growth of multiple myeloma cells. Neoplasia 17(3):289-300, 3/2015. PMCID: PMC4372650.
9. Patel V, Balakrishnan K, Keating MJ, Wierda WG, Gandhi V. Expression of executioner procaspases and their activation by a procaspase-activating compound in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Blood 125(7):1126-36, 2/2015. e-Pub 12/2014. PMCID: PMC4326772.
10. Lamothe B, Cervantes-Gomez F, Sivina M, Wierda WG, Keating MJ, Gandhi V. Proteasome inhibitor carfilzomib complements ibrutinib's action in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Blood 125(2):407-10, 1/2015. PMCID: PMC4287645.
11. Kearney AY, Fan YH, Giri U, Saigal B, Gandhi V, Heymach JV, Zurita AJ. 8-Chloroadenosine Sensitivity in Renal Cell Carcinoma Is Associated with AMPK Activation and mTOR Pathway Inhibition. PLoS One 10(8):e0135962, 2015. e-Pub 8/2015. PMCID: PMC4552467.
12. Balakrishnan K, Burger JA, Fu M, Doifode T, Wierda WG, Gandhi V. Regulation of Mcl-1 expression in Context to Bone Marrow Stromal Microenvironment in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Neoplasia 16(12):1036-46, 12/2014. PMID: 25499217.
13. Yang Q, Modi P, Ramanathan S, Quéva C, Gandhi V. Idelalisib for the treatment of B-cell malignancies. Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs 2(12):1-15, 11/2014.
14. Chen LS, Keating MJ, Gandhi V. Blood collection methods affect cellular protein integrity: implications for clinical trial biomarkers and ZAP-70 in CLL. Blood 124(7):1192-5, 8/2014. PMCID: PMC4133491.
15. El-Mabhouh AA, Ayres ML, Shpall EJ, Baladandayuthapani V, Keating MJ, Wierda WG, Gandhi V. Evaluation of bendamustine in combination with fludarabine in primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Blood 123(24):3780-9, 6/2014. e-Pub 4/2014. PMCID: PMC4055925.
16. Faderl S, Balakrishnan K, Thomas DA, Ravandi F, Borthakur G, Burger J, Ferrajoli A, Cortes J, O'Brien S, Kadia T, Feliu J, Plunkett W, Gandhi V, Kantarjian HM. Phase I and extension study of clofarabine plus cyclophosphamide in patients with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 14(3):231-8, 6/2014. e-Pub 12/2013. PMCID: PMC4182922.
17. Chen W, Balakrishnan K, Kuang Y, Han Y, Fu M, Gandhi V, Peng X. Reactive oxygen species (ROS)-inducible DNA cross-linking agents and their effect on cancer cells and normal lymphocytes. J Med Chem 57(11):4498-510, 6/2014. e-Pub 5/2014. PMCID: PMC4133937.
18. Sandoval MR, Balakrishnan K, Luthra R, Keating M, Gandhi V. DNA repair initiation induces expression of ribonucleotide reductase in human chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Leuk Lymphoma 55(4):876-83, 4/2014. e-Pub 7/2013. PMCID: PMC4102412.
19. Patel V, Chen LS, Wierda WG, Balakrishnan K, Gandhi V. Impact of bone marrow stromal cells on Bcl-2 family members in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Leuk Lymphoma 55(4):899-910, 4/2014. e-Pub 9/2013. PMID: 23837491.
20. Cao X, Mitra AK, Pounds S, Crews KR, Gandhi V, Plunkett W, Dolan ME, Hartford C, Raimondi S, Campana D, Downing J, Rubnitz JE, Ribeiro RC, Lamba JK. RRM1 and RRM2 pharmacogenetics: association with phenotypes in HapMap cell lines and acute myeloid leukemia patients. Pharmacogenomics 14(12):1449-66, 9/2013. PMID: 24024897.
21. Balakrishnan K, Ravandi F, Bantia S, Franklin A, Gandhi V. Preclinical and clinical evaluation of forodesine in pediatric and adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 13(4):458-66, 8/2013. e-Pub 6/2013. PMID: 23773454.
22. Balakrishnan K, Aggarwal S, Wierda W, Gandhi V. Bax and Bak are required for apogossypolone, a BH3-mimetic induced apoptosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Leuk Lymphoma 54(5):1097-100, 5/2013. e-Pub 9/2012. PMID: 22866921.
23. Byers LA, Diao L, Wang J, Saintigny P, Girard L, Peyton M, Shen L, Fan Y, Giri U, Tumula PK, Nilsson MB, Gudikote J, Tran H, Cardnell RJ, Bearss DJ, Warner SL, Foulks JM, Kanner SB, Gandhi V, Krett N, Rosen ST, Kim ES, Herbst RS, Blumenschein GR, Lee JJ, Lippman SM, Ang KK, Mills GB, Hong WK, Weinstein JN, Wistuba II, Coombes KR, Minna JD, Heymach JV. An epithelial-mesenchymal transition gene signature predicts resistance to EGFR and PI3K inhibitors and identifies Axl as a therapeutic target for overcoming EGFR inhibitor resistance. Clin Cancer Res 19(1):279-90, 1/2013. e-Pub 10/2012. PMCID: PMC3567921.
24. Phillip CJ, Zaman S, Shentu S, Balakrishnan K, Zhang J, Baladandayuthapani V, Taverna P, Redkar S, Wang M, Stellrecht CM, Gandhi V. Targeting MET kinase with the small-molecule inhibitor amuvatinib induces cytotoxicity in primary myeloma cells and cell lines. J Hematol Oncol 6:92, 2013. e-Pub 12/2013. PMCID: PMC3878866.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Novel RNA-Directed Therapy for the Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator: Steve Rosen
Duration: 1/1/2016 - 12/31/2021
 
Title: Investigations with ACP-196 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Funding Source: Acerta Pharma LLC
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 6/1/2015 - 5/31/2017
 
Title: Identify and develop therapeutic partners to combine with ibrutinib and determine changes in BCR pathway anti and pro-apoptotic proteins after ibrutinib treatment (PCYC-1117)
Funding Source: Pharmacyclics, Inc.
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 11/2014 - 10/2016
 
Title: Identify and develop therapeutic partners to combine with ibrutinib and determine changes in BCR pathway anti and pro-apoptotic proteins after ibrutinib treatment (PCYC-1115)
Funding Source: Pharmacyclics, Inc.
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 11/2014 - 10/2016
 
Title: Attacking the Specific Vulnerability of LKB1-mutant NSCLC to Energy Depletion Using an ATP Mimetic
Funding Source: The V Foundation for Cancer Research
Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator: John V. Heymach
Duration: 11/1/2013 - 10/31/2016
 
Title: Pim Kinase Inhibition during Therapy
Funding Source: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 10/1/2013 - 9/30/2016
 
Title: Novel Strategies for CLL Treatment
Funding Source: CLL Global Research Foundation: U.S./European Alliance
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/1/2013 - 8/31/2016
 
Title: Development of Ibrutinib for CLL - Flagship Project
Funding Source: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Moon Shots Program
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/2013 - 8/2016
 
Title: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research Consortium, Project 2 - Biochemistry of Apoptosis
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Project Leader
Principal Investigator: Thomas Kipps
Duration: 9/1/2012 - 8/31/2017

Last updated: 8/26/2016