Adjunct Faculty, Pune University
A trained cell and cancer biologist, I graduated from the University of Mumbai (Bombay) with a bachelors and master’s degrees in Microbiology and a PhD from the Cancer Research Institute, Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai. My lab has focused on understanding how integrin mediated cell adhesion regulates cellular function and how cancer cells overcome this regulation to drive their anchorage independent phenotype. Our work has identified how integrin mediated adhesion affects membrane trafficking and the role caveolar endocytosis and Ral-exocyst dependent exocytosis have in mediating the same. We have evaluated the AURKA-RalA crosstalk in Ras-dependent and independent cancers and helped develop a nanovesicle encapsulated Alisertib (MLN8237) to target this pathway and anchorage-independent signaling and growth in cancers. We have further identified how adhesion regulates organelle function, focusing on the Golgi, ER and mitochondria, and the role this could have in cancers. Our studies are now helping elucidate how these adhesion dependent regulatory pathways and processes are differentially regulated in 2D vs 3D microenvironments of varying stiffness and the impact this has on cancer progression. We are also interested in evaluating the role of lesser known and studied matrix proteins, such as fibulin, in driving cancer phenotypes. I also lead an inter-institutional public science project, “Manav-Human Atlas Initiative”, that aims to develop a learning-annotation tool for students/researchers and combine it with AI tools to build data networks from existing scientific literature. This will be particular relevant in filling existing information gaps in our understanding of biological processes and diseases like cancer.