The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Cancer Biology
Functional parenchymal cells can acquire genetic defects (gene mutations, deletions, etc) and generate what are known as cancer cells. Such cancer cells experience enhanced proliferation associated with increased rate of DNA replication, oxygen and metabolic adaptions to survive and multiply. When a normal cell behaves abnormally (such as a cancer cell), our body is designed to sense this ‘damage’ and initiate host response to repair and regenerate the tissue, and restore organ homeostasis. If repair by our body is successful, abnormal parenchymal cells (cancer cells) are destroyed and eliminated. Arguably, such damage and repair is constantly occurring in our body to maintain organ health and not noticed. On the other hand, if repair and regenerative events are not optimal, early cancer lesions are not completely eliminated but due to successful host injury response, get contained and remain as dormant, non-invasive in situ cancers. Such small cancer lesions could remain in such a dormant state for the lifespan of an individual. Autopsy studies have clearly demonstrated that a large majority of people over the age of 50 may likely have dormant cancer lesions, in some tissue or other, with identifiable cancer driving genetic defects. It is possible that about 750 million people worldwide are living with such dormant cancer lesions. Emergence of malignant cancer and metastasis may occur over a period of 20 years. It is conceivable in such cases that cancer cell defects ultimately overcome the host defenses and breakthrough to win the battle towards malignancy. Our laboratory is interested in elucidating the governing principles that determine how cancer initiates and progresses towards malignancy. We are investigating how cancer genotype influences host responses, leading to a complex tumor microenvironment and tumor immunity. Employing comprehensive cancer genomics, single cell sequencing, novel genetic mouse models and functional dissection of stromal heterogeneity of tumor microenvironment, we are investigating novel mechanisms associated with cancer progression and metastasis. Such basic science efforts are coupled to tangible translational outputs, facilitating discovery of new therapeutic targets and novel drug development strategies.
Graduate student training in the Kalluri Laboratory:
The Kalluri laboratory has trained 13 graduate PhD students and 31 graduate PhD students conducted rotation research projects in the laboratory. Fourteen medical students conducted research in the laboratory via various fellowships including the HHMI medical student research fellowships. The laboratory was also a research training ground for 56 undergraduate and high school students.
Research discoveries by our graduate PhD students led to clinical trials and collaborations with many academic laboratories and biopharmaceutical companies. Teamwork and integrity is central to our laboratory research culture. Graduate students are encouraged to develop independent projects and pursue their passion for research. They are also encouraged to conduct paradigm-shifting research that can bring forward new basic science discoveries and help our patients. Graduate students are supported and mentored directly by the PI, as well as provided with hands-on training and supervision by the senior fellows and other technology experts in the laboratory. The laboratory is an inter-dependent team and a science family that works diligently to help one another and foster laboratory collaborations. Graduate students are encouraged to learn freely and identify a project of their interest, and pursue their thesis work with direct supervision and training from the PI and all members of the laboratory.
Education & Training
PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center, 1992
MD, Brown University School of Medicine, 2009