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The one hundred honoree: Shyamala Maheswaran, PhD

Innovation Story

The one hundred honoree: Shyamala Maheswaran, PhD

Mass General Giving

Shyamala Maheswaran, PhD, left the strife in her homeland, Sri Lanka, to pursue biomedical research in the United States.

Devoted to research on breast cancer, Dr. Maheswaran worked in both the academic and biotech worlds before joining Mass General’s Division of Surgical Oncology and the Center for Cancer Research. Her laboratory is investigating molecular mechanisms that govern the growth and tumorigenesis (production of new tumors) of the mammary gland.

As the biomedical leader of a multidisciplinary team that includes bioengineers and clinicians as well as molecular biologists, Dr. Maheswaran is co-directing a project to isolate extraordinarily rare circulating tumor cells from the blood of patients with cancer. These cells hold clues to understanding the process of cancer metastasis and monitoring the effectiveness of new, targeted cancer therapies.

In May 2009, the group received a three-year “Dream Team” research grant of $15 million from Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the entertainment industry’s charitable initiative to accelerate development of groundbreaking cancer treatments.