After my undergraduate training in Engineering in India, I came to the U.S for my masters in Bioinformatics at Northeastern University. I completed my degree just around the time the NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) era was starting. I jumped right into an exciting role as a Bioinformatics Scientist at Raindance Technologies, analyzing targeted sequencing data and designing assays for different genetic disorders. When I worked on my first cancer genome, I was instantly fascinated by the intrinsic challenges in analyzing cancer genomes and the idea of identifying driver mutations in cancer (the proverbial needle in the haystack). I followed my interest and moved to Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research and worked in a group that focuses on cancer genomics. I worked on understanding more about why some patients respond to certain drugs and others don’t and why therapeutic resistance may emerge. As time went by, I realized that I wanted to gain more depth in certain areas. I decided to go back to school for a PhD in computational biology focusing on cancer genomics to gain deeper knowledge and perspective.
I chose the CBM program because of the number of faculty members working on clinical and translational aspects of cancer. The Tri-I environment offers a lot of flexibility in choosing course work, rotations and research directions. I think it is very different from other institutions in terms of empowering the student to make decisions about their PhD path and offering a lot of guidance and support. After my rotations, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Michael Berger Memorial Sloan Kettering and currently work on gaining an integrated understanding of inherited and acquired mutations in cancer. Leveraging tumor and normal sequencing data from over 17,000 patients, my work will help understand how inherited mutations drive tumor initiation and progression in different cellular contexts. The collaborative research environment and the clinical impact of my work are things that motivate me. I have also been extremely fortunate to have amazing mentors. I am grateful for the extent to which my advisor, collaborators, committee members and the Tri-I department have supported me. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and seeing the world through the eyes of my curious three-year old daughter.