The University of Winnipeg



Defeating cancer through research

Dr. Shailly Varma Shrivastav, © UWinnipeg

Dr. Shailly Varma Shrivastav, © UWinnipeg

UWinnipeg’s Dr. Shailly Varma Shrivastav (biology) has received $30,000 from the Manitoba Medical Research Service foundation for her research in cancer. As a biochemist, she was first interested in studying the electrochemistry of enzymes for use in biosensors,but her path changed course when her young cousin of 36 years, was diagnosed with oral cancer, which was a shock to her and her family.

“In the process of trying to understand the treatments as a student of science I was intrigued to find that there are not many effective treatments for advanced oral cancer. This thought lingered and when I got an opportunity I decided to pursue cancer research.”

Varma Shrivastav believes the only defense against cancer is through research, “Our understanding of cancer indicates that it’s heterogeneous. Because of this heterogeneity almost all types of cancers have different sub-types, which indicates that every individual’s cancer is unique.”

This means that the concept of one-treatment for all is not a good strategy. Varma Shrivastav is trying to understand the journey of transformation of a normal cell into cancer cell.  This transformation is triggered by a series of ‘inputs’ received by a normal cell, which is perceived by the cell as uncontrollable growth, and in some cases leads to the movement of cells from one organ to another (metastasis). 

“My research interest is to understand the mechanisms of how these inputs lead to abrogation of normal cell functions in cancer and to understand whether these abrogated molecules can be reliably used for diagnostic and prognostic purposes,” she said. “I am interested in the identification of molecules, which can help stratify patients for individually tailored therapies, which would be successful and improve quality of life of patients. I am also interested in the identification of molecules, which can serve as a screening tool for the early identification for cancer, since prevention is the best cure.”

Varma Shrivastav and her colleague Dr. Danielle Defries (kinesiology and applied health) who also received funding for her research from the Manitoba Medical Research Service foundation will be honoured at a reception today with all the other 2016-2017 award recipients.

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