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I Live to Conquer Cancer: Dr. Devanand Sarkar

Nov 19, 2018

As part of ASCO’s “I Live to Conquer CancerTM” Campaign to raise awareness of the critical importance of federally funded cancer research, members of the oncology community are invited to answer the question “Why do you live to conquer cancer?” Written stories and videos may be shared on ASCO.org and ASCO ConnectionTell us your story today.

By Devanand Sarkar, MBBS, PhD

When Devanand Sarkar, MBBS, PhD, came to VCU Massey Cancer Center in 2008, he wanted to pursue a new direction in his research.

Three years after joining Massey, Dr. Sarkar lost his close friend and colleague to liver cancer. Driven by the loss, Dr. Sarkar has been on a mission to better understand the processes that drive the development of liver cancer. Now, nearly a decade after he started, his research is close to bringing about new treatments for the disease while redefining how obesity is connected to cancer.

“I worked closely with Dr. Su for 7 years in New York before we both came to VCU,” said Dr. Sarkar, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics at the VCU School of Medicine and the associate scientific director for Cancer Therapeutics at the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine. “He passed away 2 years after he was diagnosed. I might have moved on to other things, but his loss was a very personal experience and it kept me focused on the disease.”

Dr. Sarkar conducts experiments focused on SND1 and other genes that play a role in promoting liver cancer. Ultimately, it may be a combination of therapies that offer patients the best chance of beating the disease that claimed his friend’s life.

“Funding is always an issue. Positive results from the NCL will help us apply for additional grants, but production of the therapy and administration of clinical trials can be very costly,” says Dr. Sarkar. “Even though I can’t give an exact estimate on when, I’m confident we will bring this treatment to the clinic.”

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