Profile

Research

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Team

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Rakesh Kumar, PhD

Distinguished Professor and National Chair in Cancer Research

(O) 471-2781-270

rakeshkumar@rgcb.res.in

rakesh
rakesh

Rakesh Kumar, PhD

Distinguished Professor and National Chair in Cancer Research

(O) 471-2781-270

rakeshkumar@rgcb.res.in

  • Profile

    Experience (Selected)

    • 2014-2017: Visiting Professor of Cancer Medicine, Oxford University, Oxford, UK.
    • 2010-2017: Visiting Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, India.
    • 2009-2017: Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2009-2014: Professor and Chairman, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2009-2014: Catharine Birch & McCormick Chair, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2011-2014: Chair of the Chairs of the Basic Sciences Departments, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2010-2013: Co-Director, W.M. Keck Institute of Proteomics, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2009-2013: Director, Institute of Coregulator Biology, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2006-2009: Research and Academic Operation Leader, Designated Third Institutional Alternate Leader, Institutional Emergency Management Team, University of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 2003-2009: John G. & Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation Chair, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 2001-2009: Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Cellular & Molecular Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 1999-2009: Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 1998-2009: Professor, University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 2005-2007: Chair, Institutional Space Review Committee, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 2002-2003: Edward Rotan Distinguished Professor, University of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 1998-2000: Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 1996-1998: Associate Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 1993-1996: Associate Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Physiology Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA.
    • 1993-1996: Graduate Faculty, Inter-College Graduate Degree Program in Physiology, Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA.
    • 1991-1992: Associate Lab Member, Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA.
    • 1989-1991: Assistant Lab Member, Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA.
    • 1986-1988: Associate Researcher, Molecular Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA.

    Honors (Selected)

    • 2013: East Shanghai Cancer Forum Award
    • 2013: Lifetime Achievement Award, American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research
    • 2011: Elaine H. Snyder Cancer Research Award
    • 2008: Ranbaxy Research Award
    • 2007: MDACC Presidential Recognition for a Mentor of Distinction Award
    • 2004-2007: MDACC Exceptional Leadership and Support as a Mentor Award
    • 2002-2007: Annual First Place AMGEN Award in Basic Science to students from Kumar labs
    • 2004: The Norman Brinkler Award for Research Excellence
    • 2004: MDACC Faculty Achievement Award in Basic Science
    • 1995: Hinkle Outstanding Investigator Award, Penn State University, PA
    • 1995: ASIOA Young Scientist Award; A.L. Bortree Lectureship, Penn State University, PA

    Membership (selected)

    • 2016: Chair, Cancer Drug Discovery and Therapeutic Study Section, Special Emphasis Panel, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    • 2016: Co-Chair, Cancer Drug Discovery and Therapeutic Study Section, Special Emphasis Panel, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    • 2013-2014: Chartered Member, Veteran Administration System Study Section, USA
    • 2011-2014: Chartered Member, Cancer Molecular Pathobiology Study Section, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    • 2014: Member, NCI Intramural Peer-review Program Site Visit, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    • 2011-2015: Founding Chair of the "Global Cancer Genomic Consortium" among 6 leading institutions from US, UK, Japan, Portugal and India)
    • 2012 -2014: Member, University Sub-committee on Appointment, Salary and Benefits, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2012: Member, University Strategy Vision Committee on Globalization, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.
    • 2005-2009: Member, Research Strategy & Advisory Committee, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 2007-2009: Member, Physician-Scientist Program Selection Committee, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 2004-2009: Member, National Institutes of Health Study Section, USA.
    • 2004-2009: Member and Chair, Mike Hogg Award Committee, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA. (scope of the committee: select, invite and host a Nobel Laureate each year)
    • 2005-2009: Chartered Member, Drug Discovery & Molecular Pharmacology Study Section, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    • 2007: Member, Selection Committee for the Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research, USA.
    • 2008: Co-chair -AACR Conference on "Cytoskeleton Signaling in Cancer" Feb 3-5, San Diego, USA.
    • 2006: AACR Program Committee 2006, Chair -Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics Subcommittee Co-Chair- 2006 Mini-symposium on "Experimental Therapeutic I," USA,
    • 2005: Session Chair/Invited Speaker, Gordon Conference, Hormone Action in Cancer & Development, USA.
    • 2005: Member, 2005 AACR Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics Program Subcommittee, USA.
    • 2002-2005 Member, Institutional Space Review Committee, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
    • 1999-2016: Ad hoc Member - Numerous Peer-review Study Sections, US Department of Defense, USA.
    • 1995-2016: Ad hoc Member - Numerous Peer-review Study Sections, National Institutes of Health, USA.

    Editorial Activities

    • 2016- : Scientific Reports
    • 2015- : Oncogenesis
    • 2014- : Epigenetics
    • 2014- : American Journal of Cancer Research
    • 2013- : Oncogene
    • 2009- : Journal of Cellular Physiology
    • 2009- : Journal of Translational Research
    • 2009- : Genes and Cancer
    • 2002- : Cancer & Metastasis Reviews
    • 2001- : Clinical Cancer Research
    • 2005-2016: Cancer Research (Senior Editor)
    • 2001-2004: Cancer Research (Associate Editor)
    • 2009-2012: Endocrinology
    • 2009-2011: Cancer Letters
    • 2005-2007: Clinical & Experimental Metastasis
    • 2004-2006: Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research
    • 2003-2007, 2010-13: Journal of Biological Chemistry
    • Students/Postdoctoral Fellows/Fellows Directly Mentored: About 61
  • Research

    Research Interests

    Women's Cancer, Estrogen Signaling, Cytoskeleton and Chromatin Remodeling, Epigenomic Cancer Progression, Cancer Biomarkers, and Therapeutic Targets.

    The laboratory continues to provide novel insights into the significance of cytoskeleton and chromatin remodeling - as two arms of phenotypic signaling - during the progression of women's cancer using physiologically relevant models and tools from molecular biology, genetics, proteogenomics, epigenetics, computational bioinformatics, and emerging platform based technologies. The laboratory contributed to the field of phenotypic signaling by defining how and why breast cancer cells move, with a focus on cytoskeleton signaling and the identification of novel drug targets such as p21-activated kinase (PAK1). The lab was the first to show the hyperactivation of PAK1 in human cancer, discover its numerous physiologic substrates, and establish new functions of PAK1 in cancer cells. The lab also discovered nuclear localization and functions of PAK1, which was previously thought to be a cytoplasmic kinase. Lessons learned from the PAK1 research turned-out to be true for many other PAK family members, and are vigorously pursued by cancer biologists. The second research focus is to reveal new facets of estrogen signaling, and sub-cellular localization of epigenetic modifiers in cancer cells. Specifically, the lab is interested in defining the molecular switch for dual coregulatory activity of a master coregulator by highlighting the significance of sequential, trans-regulation of post-translational modifications of histones and non-histone coregulator such as metastatic-associated protein 1 (MTA1). Our on-going and planned studies are designed to reveal the significance of signaling-dependent epigenomic regulation of women's cancer, including breast, with a focus on molecules which are at the interface of pathways that regulate cell survival, cell death, metabolism, inflammation, and immunomodulation, and thus, could regulate multiple pathways during cancer progression. The goal is to start translating such therapeutic targets and biomarkers from working pre-clinical models to the bed-side for the benefit of suffering cancer patients. The laboratory also hopes to continue the tradition of enabling others, particularly younger colleagues and students to live out their dreams in biomedical research, and to become future leaders by closely mentoring.

  • Publications

    Peer Reviewed Publications and Invited Reviews: 294
    Book chapters: 10

    Books/Volumes

    • Protein Kinases in Cancer; Editor: Rakesh Kumar; Cancer Metastasis Reviews 22, Number 4, pages 297-472, 2003; ISSN: 0167-7659
    • Molecular Signaling and Therapeutics; Editor: Rakesh Kumar, Kluwer Press, 2004; Pages 327; ISBN: 1-4020-7822-6
    • NR Coregulators and Human Diseases, Editors: Rakesh Kumar & Bert W. O'Malley World Scientific Publishers 2008; Pages 602; ISBN: 10-9812705368
    • Cytoskeleton Signaling in Cancer; Editors: Rakesh Kumar and Alan Hall; Metastasis Cancer Reviews 28, Number 1-2, pages 1-263, 2009; ISSN: 0167-7659.
    • Nuclear Signaling Pathways and Targeting Transcription in Cancer, Editor: Rakesh Kumar Springer Press 2013; Pages 441; ISBN 978-1-4614-8038-9
    • Functions and Clinical Relevance of MTA Proteins in Human Cancer; Editor: Rakesh Kumar; Cancer Metastasis Reviews 33, Number 4, pages 837-1127, 2014; ISSN: 0167-7659.

    NIH-Gene Wiki Initiative

    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTA1
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTA2
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MTA3
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAK1
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAK2
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAK3
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAK4
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAK5
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAK6

    Invited Speaker at Academic Institutions, and National and International Conferences: About 246

  • Team


    Hezlin Marzook, MSc, PhD student

    My work under the co-mentorship of Professors Rakesh Kumar and M. Radhakrishna Pillai focuses on the Metastasis Associated Tumor Antigen 1 (MTA1) which is a chromatin modifier protein found widely up regulated in a variety of human cancers. I study the role of MTA1 in tumor progression under stressed conditions. We suspect the involvement of MTA1 in imparting a pro-survival mechanism during stressed conditions in cancer cells. It is possible that MTA1 may have a protective role against stress, presumably, due to its ability to regulate a sub-set of relevant genes which are in the nuclear compartment, the mechanistic insights of which is yet unknown and form an aim of the present study.

    Hezlin-Marzook
    Hezlin-Marzook

    Hezlin Marzook, MSc, PhD student

    My work under the co-mentorship of Professors Rakesh Kumar and M. Radhakrishna Pillai focuses on the Metastasis Associated Tumor Antigen 1 (MTA1) which is a chromatin modifier protein found widely up regulated in a variety of human cancers. I study the role of MTA1 in tumor progression under stressed conditions. We suspect the involvement of MTA1 in imparting a pro-survival mechanism during stressed conditions in cancer cells. It is possible that MTA1 may have a protective role against stress, presumably, due to its ability to regulate a sub-set of relevant genes which are in the nuclear compartment, the mechanistic insights of which is yet unknown and form an aim of the present study.

    Deivendran S, MSc, PhD student

    I study the epigenetic role of MTA1 in cancer, a work that is jointly mentored by Professors Rakesh Kumar and M. Radhakrishna Pillai. The Metastatic Tumor Antigen 1 (MTA1) is one of the major overexpressed oncogenes in human cancer. Mechanistically, MTA1 is a chromatin modifier and modifier of transcription by virtue of its dual functional activity as a corepressor or coactivator. The goal of this project is to elucidate the role of MTA1 in target gene methylation and consequently, expression of genes that may be mechanistically involved in the action of the MTA1 master coregulator.

    Deivendran-S
    Deivendran-S

    Deivendran S, MSc, PhD student

    I study the epigenetic role of MTA1 in cancer, a work that is jointly mentored by Professors Rakesh Kumar and M. Radhakrishna Pillai. The Metastatic Tumor Antigen 1 (MTA1) is one of the major overexpressed oncogenes in human cancer. Mechanistically, MTA1 is a chromatin modifier and modifier of transcription by virtue of its dual functional activity as a corepressor or coactivator. The goal of this project is to elucidate the role of MTA1 in target gene methylation and consequently, expression of genes that may be mechanistically involved in the action of the MTA1 master coregulator.

    Parvathy M, PhD Student

    FUNCTIONAL ROLE OF P21 ACTIVATED KINASES (PAKs) IN ORAL CANCER*

    According to GLOBOCAN report of 2008, Oral Cancer is the second most common cancer among men in India. Despite considerable advances in treatment modalities, overall prognosis for patients with OSCC has not improved in the past two decades. This calls for the identification of new target molecules and translating them to clinical settings. A potential set of such target molecules is P21 Activated Kinases or PAKs, a family of serine/threonine kinases with roles in cell survival and oncogenesis. PAKs have been shown to play important role in the progression of cancer types like that of breast, ovarian etc by interfering in important cellular functions like cytoskeletal remodelling, cell cycle progression, angiogenesis, mitosis etc. However, its role and significance in Oral Cancer remains poorly understood. The focus of the on-going studies is to understand the role of PAKs in Oral Cancer progression.
    * Collaborative work with George Washington University

    parvathy1
    parvathy1

    Parvathy M, PhD Student

    FUNCTIONAL ROLE OF P21 ACTIVATED KINASES (PAKs) IN ORAL CANCER*

    According to GLOBOCAN report of 2008, Oral Cancer is the second most common cancer among men in India. Despite considerable advances in treatment modalities, overall prognosis for patients with OSCC has not improved in the past two decades. This calls for the identification of new target molecules and translating them to clinical settings. A potential set of such target molecules is P21 Activated Kinases or PAKs, a family of serine/threonine kinases with roles in cell survival and oncogenesis. PAKs have been shown to play important role in the progression of cancer types like that of breast, ovarian etc by interfering in important cellular functions like cytoskeletal remodelling, cell cycle progression, angiogenesis, mitosis etc. However, its role and significance in Oral Cancer remains poorly understood. The focus of the on-going studies is to understand the role of PAKs in Oral Cancer progression.
    * Collaborative work with George Washington University

  • Alumni