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Indian-American Scientist Awarded Research Grant to Pursue Work into Cancer Prevention


The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas has awarded associate professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering, Navin Vardarajan, a $1.1 million grant to continue study and research into the effectiveness of T-cell immunotherapy of treating cancer.

Navin, an Indian-American researcher – who earned his first two academic degrees at Indian Universities, before bringing his expertise to Houston– will attempt to bring about consistent results to patients undergoing T-cell immunotherapy by creating programmed T-cells that destroy nefarious tumors. “We have to understand every single T-cell and what each one is capable of,” Navin said, “Once we know what is required to get a positive response, we can control the composition of the cells so that they all can work to fight cancer.”

Being Navin’s second grant received from the CPRIT, the project will involve treating patients from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Fellow researcher, Sanghyuk Chung, expressed optimism in the institute’s work and the funding it provides, “We are so lucky in Texas. No other state has a public program like CPRIT that supports cancer research and attracts prominent cancer researchers to do this kind of meaningful work.”

With help from the work that Indian researchers complete in the United States, the two countries are able to lead the new scientific frontier in global health advancements. The National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics found that the number of Indian researchers working in the US increased by 85% between 2003 and 2013, and made up 950,000 of the total 2.96 million researchers that came to the US from Asia.

Furthermore, the Indian and US governments are continuing to deepen their cooperation on scientific and medical research, especially into new areas such as cancer prevention. In the 2016/2017 period, the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum supported 17 bilateral workshops for US and-Indian researchers, allowing for long term collaborations between the scientific communities of India and the United States to broaden.

Toby Warden is an intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and a student at the University of Sydney in Australia.