Cancer cells recruit surrounding normal cells and transform them to spur the growth and spread of tumors. Stromal cells, one type of these normal surrounding cells, provide factors to cancer cells that enable them to multiply, spread and colonize. In turn, cancer cells change stromal cells, which then foster disease progress. Little is known about how normal stromal cells become cancer-associated stromal cells. Dr. Mitra plans to study if certain molecules, called microRNAs, play a role in the conversion of normal stromal cells to cancer-associated stromal cells. MicroRNAs are involved in normal growth and development and also in the transformation of healthy cells into cancer cells in other cancers. His findings should improve understanding of stromal transformation and possibly lead to the development of new treatments that prevent the process.
Dr. Anirban Mitra did his M.Sc. in Biotechnology from Devi Ahilya University in Indore, India and completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Mumbai in Mumbai, India. Presently, is undergoing postdoctoral training under the mentorship of Dr. Ernst Lengyel in the Section of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago, Chicago. He is studying the biology of ovarian cancer with a specific interest is in unraveling how the cancer cells interact with their microenvironment. He has identified a novel, ligand independent activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase c-Met in the ovarian cancer cells by the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin via its receptor a5ß1-integrin. He is presently investigating the role of stroma in ovarian cancer progression. Dr. Mitra received the Department of Biotechnology Scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and the Junior Research Fellowship from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India. During his postdoctoral training, he received the American Association of Cancer Research Scholar in Training Award.