India Today - - COVER STORY -

One of the fore­most ex­perts on cancer stem cells in the coun­try, Dr Anu Ran­gara­jan, 35, has a host of aca­demic and pro­fes­sional achieve­ments un­der her belt. She holds a PhD from the Na­tional Cen­tre of Bi­o­log­i­cal Sci­ences, Ban­ga­lore and a post doc­toral fel­low­ship from the Robert Wein­berg Lab, MIT. “De­spite decades of aca­demic re­search, we are yet to un­der­stand cancer com­pletely. It still man­ages to catch us off guard. Even my mother has bat­tled cancer, so I know first-hand the trauma and un­cer­tainty as­so­ci­ated with the dis­ease,” says Dr Ran­gara­jan. To­day, she not only teaches at the Depart­ment of Molec­u­lar Re­pro­duc­tion, De­vel­op­ment and Ge­net­ics in the In­dian In­sti­tute of Sci­ence, Ban­ga­lore but has also pub­lished sig­nif­i­cant re­search work on cancer. “Cancer steam cells are in the lime­light in the re­search field. These are a sub­pop­u­la­tion of cancer cells that can gen­er­ate a new tu­mour. As they are drug re­sis­tant, these cells are of­ten left be­hind dur­ing chemo­ther­apy and even­tu­ally lead to a re­lapse. Stud­ies are now try­ing to de­ter­mine how to iso­late and elim­i­nate these cells,” ex­plains Ran­gara­jan. “The next step is to fos­ter more in­dus­try and academia in­ter­ac­tion. Doc­tors and re­searchers need to work hand in hand to bat­tle the dis­ease,” adds Ran­gara­jan.

Pho­to­graph by NILOTPAL BARUAH

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