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Dr. Sarkar is currently a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Oncology at Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine who started his scientific career in 1978 when he completed his Ph.D. thesis work. Dr. Sarkar’s early research, which still continues, is focused on understanding the role of a “master” transcription factor, NF-ï«B, and the regulation of its upstream and downstream signaling molecules in solid tumors, and focusing on tumor microenvironment. Moreover, his research has been directed toward elucidating the molecular mechanism(s) of action of “natural agents”, their synthetic analogues, and other synthetic small molecule inhibitors of Bcl-2 and MDM2 for cancer prevention and therapy. The discoveries from in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies led to the design and execution of multiple Phase I/II clinical trials in breast, pancreas and prostate cancer for assessing the effects of several “natural agents” in the alterations of biomarkers as well as some early clinical efficacy testing. Dr. Sarkar’s research led to the concept of chemo-sensitization of cancer cells by reversing their drug-resistance phenotype to conventional therapeutics (chemo-radio-therapy), and all of which has been focused on tumor microenvironment, system biology and integrated holistic approach which led to clinical trials conducted at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. The innovation of his basic science research has attracted clinicians to collaborate with him, which clearly documents his leadership in translational research. Dr. Sarkar’s recent research in the last 15 years has also been focused on understanding the molecular mechanism(s) of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), a phenomenon that is reminiscent of cancer stem cells (CSCs) or cancer stem-like cells (CSLCs) within the tumor microenvironment, which are highly resistant to conventional therapeutics. Since understanding the molecular mechanism(s) only is not sufficient, his research also extended to the discovery of strategies by which drug-resistant EMT phenotypic cells (CSCs or CSLCs) could be eliminated by novel agents including “natural agents” (Two patents pending on this topic). Dr. Sarkar also discovered early-on that targeting microRNAs (miRNAs) by such agents could become a newer avenues for the treatment of human malignancies. The application of systems biology in elucidating the targets of specific miRNAs and their role in developing novel targeted therapeutic agents is his primary focus in recent years for translational research. It is important to note that his pre-clinical and ongoing clinical studies using BR-DIM is a perfect example of “bench to bedside” research. Moreover, Dr. Sarkar have recently developed a novel synthetic derivative of a “natural agent”-curcumin, named as CDF (3.4-difluorobenozo-curcumin or in short difluorinated curcumin), which is currently being planned for toxicological testing for clinical development. Dr. Sarkar has been collaborating with many investigators focusing on tumor microenvironment and developing strategies for conditioning the tumor microenvironment in different tumor models in order to optimize therapeutics. Dr. Sarkar has over 30 years of molecular cancer research expertise and he is also an experts in “bench-to-bedside” as well as “bedside-to-bench” (clinical translational research). Overall, his expertise would be instrumental in developing multi-faceted molecular and translational cancer research program that could be coupled with drug discovery and development for the treatment of human malignancies. Dr. Sarkar trained numerous pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students throughout the last 25 years at Wayne State University. In addition, he served and still serving on a number of departmental, university and national committees, and continue to serve in both NIH and DOD study sections including NIH program projects, SPORE grants and Cancer Center Core grants (site visit) for NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Currently, Dr. Sarkar is the chair of the Promotion & Tenure Committee of the Department of Pathology, which requires leadership skills. Moreover, Dr. Sarkar is a member of the editorial board of many cancer-specific and medicinal chemistry related journals. In summary, the above accomplishments clearly provide broader perspectives on Dr. Sarkar’s expertise in the field of cancer biology, cancer drug discovery, experimental therapeutics, medicinal chemistry, molecular mechanism of tumor aggressiveness within the tumor microenvironment, pre-clinical model research and conducting clinical trials. In addition, his experience is worth noticing in leading basic and clinical scientists to translate discoveries to early phase investigator-initiated clinical trials. Lastly, Dr. Sarkar’s activities clearly document his leadership expertise, and he really earned his well-deserved national and international stature in cancer research and drug discovery specifically focusing on conditioning the tumor microenvironment. Based on Dr. Sarkar’s accomplishments, he has been inducted to the “Academy of Scholars” at Wayne State University in 2012.
Molecular mechanism(s) of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT)