Cancer Research

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Why cancer research?

Cancer lives with us today. In our memories, in our battle and in our victory.

Lung cancer is responsible for taking away most number of lives. In United States alone there are ~430k people living with lung cancer. That is 0.14% of the total population. As there are ~5.65M riders everyday in the New York City subway, in extension, there may be ~8000 riders living with lung cancer! Every morning, when I take the subway to Columbia University, I may be standing beside a New Yorker with lung cancer.

Back in 2008, I worked with Prof. Saraswathi Visveshwara, Ph.D., a computational biologist, at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, on how to handle and analyze big biological data sets using bioinformatics. For past ten years, I trained with Dr. John Minna, M.D., one of the world’s top lung cancer researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA. Now, I work for Dr. Tal Danino, Ph.D., a bioengineer at the Columbia University, New York City, USA, who found a way to engineer microorganisms for cancer diagnosis and therapy.

My current research involves engineering microbes to help our own immune cells to detect and eliminate lung cancer cells that are otherwise hidden from the immune system.

Education & training

2018 – Present: Postdoctoral training in biomedical engineering, Columbia University, New York City, USA

2015 – 2018: Postdoctoral training in therapeutic oncology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA

2009 – 2015: PhD in Cancer Biology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA

2006 – 2008: MSc in Bioinformatics, Amrita University, India

2003 – 2006: BSc in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Microbiology Bangalore University, India

Publications

• Combination therapy targeting BCL6 and phospho-STAT3 defeats intra-tumor heterogeneity in a subset of non-small cell lung cancers
Dhruba Deb, … et. al. Cancer Research 2017 77(11), 3070-3081

• A spatial cell culture model for predicting chemotherapy dosing strategies
Shu Zhu, Dhruba Deb and Tal Danino  (in review) preprint at https://doi.org/10.1101/561746

• Non-small cell lung cancers exhibit differential MYC dependence regulated by WNT pathway activation
Patrick P. Dospoy, Dhruba Deb, et. al.  (in submission)

• Defining the role of ZEB1 in the pathogenesis of lung cancer
Jill E. Larsen, … Dhruba Deb, … et. al. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2016 126 9: 3219

• Understanding the unpredictability of cancer using techniques from chaos theory and modern art
Dhruba Deb Leonardo 2016 49:1: 66

• Understanding protein structure from a percolation perspective
Dhruba Deb, … et. al. Biophysical Journal 2009 16:97(6): 1787

Awards

• Center for Cancer Systems Biology Young Scientist Award 2013 at Systems Biology of Cancer symposium at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, USA.

• Meeting award by National Academies Keck Futures Initiative 2015, CA, USA.

• Meeting award by International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 2016, CA, USA.

Invited Oral Presentations

• “Identifying new therapeutic strategies in Non-small cell lung cancer” at Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University in May 2018, NY, USA.

• “A novel combination therapy targeting phospho-STAT3 and BCL6 defeats intra-tumor heterogeneity in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer” at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in May 2017, NY, USA.

• “A novel combination therapy targeting phospho-STAT3 and BCL6 defeats intra-tumor heterogeneity in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer” at LASER December 2016 meeting, NY, USA.

• “A novel combination therapy targeting phospho-STAT3 and BCL6 defeats intra-tumor heterogeneity in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer” at New York University Langone Medical Center in June 2015, NY, USA.

• “A molecular understanding of signaling heterogeneity in lung cancer” at New York University Langone Medical Center in December 2014,NY, USA.

• “Understanding the unpredictability of cancer from chaos theory” at LASER October 2014 meeting, NY, USA.

• “A molecular understanding of signaling heterogeneity in lung cancer” at Systems Biology of Cancer symposium 2013 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, USA.