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Bhardwaj reports on Advisor/Consultant or Board Member positions at Apricity, BioNTech, Boehringer Ingelheim, BreakBio, Carisma Therapeutics, CureVac, Genentech, Gilead, Novartis, Primevax, Rome Therapeutics, Tempest Therapeutics and Rubius Therapeutics; and industry research support from DC Prime, Dragonfly Therapeutics, Harbor BioMed Sciences and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
Nina BhardwajMD, promotionhas spent her career studying dendritic cells and identifying novel cancer-specific antigens with the goal of developing a commercial vaccine for the treatment, work that has recently received recognition.
Bhardwaj was this year’s winner of the American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research’s Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Award. Each year, the association presents its award to an outstanding scientist in recognition of significant contributions to cancer research that have had a lasting impact and demonstrate a lifelong commitment to advances in the fight against cancer.
“It was a tremendous honor,” Bhardwaj, who currently serves as Director of Immunotherapy, Medical Director of the Vaccine and Cell Therapy Laboratory and Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program at Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, as well as the Ward Coleman Chair in Cancer Research at the Icahn School of Medicine, Healio said. “When I look at who has received this award over the past few years, it’s quite amazing. I am deeply honored and grateful to the committee and society for this recognition.”
Bhardwaj originally started out as a rheumatologist fascinated by immunology. As a postdoc she worked in the laboratory of Ralph M stonemanmdthe Rockefeller University scientist who received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the dendritic cell.
“I was fortunate to be trained in his lab to start studying human dendritic cells, which weren’t well studied at the time,” she told Healio. “I had the opportunity to be part of the first wave of investigations into the biology of human dendritic cells, and that led to trying to understand how these cells play a role in enhancing the immune system not only in autoimmunity but also in viral immunity and eventually boost cancer.”
Through Steinman’s lab, Bhardwaj transitioned into oncology and has made important discoveries related to dendritic cells with her own team.
“We were one of the groups that discovered plasmacytoid dendritic cells,” she said. “We also learned how to grow dendritic cells in the laboratory and use them as cellular adjuvants for cancer vaccination.”
Bhardwaj added that her team is focused on understanding how the immune system recognizes cancer-associated or cancer-specific antigens.
“In recent years we have developed what we call a neoantigen research pipeline, in which we are trying to identify new antigens from tumors of cancer patients that can be used and formulated into vaccines,” she said. “We have identified ways and means to induce immunity against patient-specific neoantigens (a patient-specific repertoire of novel antigens), but we have also played a crucial role in identifying antigenic epitopes of neoantigens that can be shared by patients and eventually provide a ready-to-use solution Develop vaccines for patients with certain types of tumors, such as B. Patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms or microsatellite instability.”
“Exceptional Mentors” committed to equality
When asked how she got to her current position as an oncologist, Bhardwaj emphasized the positive influence of her mentors on her career.
Next to Steinman, steven BurakoffmdLloyd J Altmd; and Arnold J. Levine, PhDThey are all “extraordinary mentors,” Bhardwaj said, adding that they think they are excellent examples of what makes a good mentor.
“They really care about you as a person and your career path; You as a person come first,” she said. “I believe the unconditional support, kindness, selflessness and the fact that they were always available no matter what to help me find positions or give me advice on negotiations are qualities of a good mentor.”
Although Bhardwaj detailed her amazing mentors and her luck in her career path, she also acknowledged that as a woman she still faced challenges in this field.
“The biggest challenges have been dealing with difficult personalities and the commitment to being a woman for equality, which wasn’t readily apparent many years ago,” she said. “Fighting for equality, salary and sometimes justice in scientific arguments was a big challenge.
“I’m very proud that I stood up for myself and my team when I had to,” she added. “These are tough fights sometimes and you have to step up when things aren’t even. Even if it costs you to stand up for yourself, you have to do it to be able to go back, look in the mirror and say I did what I thought was right.”
As part of the wave in oncology that has embraced new therapeutic modalities, Bhardwaj looks forward to what the new generation of oncologists will unveil.
“It’s a really exciting time for younger people to be in this space,” she said. “I wish I was 20 years younger so I could see what’s going to happen in the next 20 years.
“I challenge young investigators and students, especially women, to remember that the world is open in this field,” she added.
With such a successful career and the recent receipt of her lifetime achievement award, Bhardwaj offered some advice for young oncologists.
“You have to find people who support you unconditionally,” she said. “Surround yourself with a team of people who support you. For example, if you work in a lab, you need to be sure that the lab and mentor will give you unconditional support and guide you through your career, no matter what stage you are at. This network is very important and does not have to consist only of women; it can be women and men. In my case, my mentors were all men and they were great.”
Bhardwaj concluded, “They need to stand up, stand up for themselves, find supportive networks and teams in the departments or departments they serve, and also reach out to people.”
For more informations:
Nina BhardwajMD, promotion, can be reached at [email protected].