Dimpy Koul, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Neuro-Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics at MD Anderson Cancer Center, shared her experiences with the CERN Foundation and what led her into the field of cancer research.
Dr. Koul graduated in 1989 from the Kashmir University in Srinagar, India with a Master’s degree in Biochemistry. She went onto receive her Ph.D. in Immunopathology from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India in 1996. After receiving her Ph.D., Dimpy was accepted as a post doctorate fellow at MD Anderson under the leadership of late Dr. Peter Steck,/Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung’s Group. She has been at MD Anderson ever since and joined the CERN Foundation as one of our lead researchers in developmental therapeutics. When Dr. Koul is not engrossed in her research, she is at home spending time with her husband, who is a physician, and her two children, a 10 year-old son and a 7 year old daughter. Because of her and her husband’s busy schedules, the most important thing that they do in their “down” time is being together as a family. It can be as simple as playing a game with their children, eating in a restaurant or taking a family vacation – as long as they are together as a family, that’s all that is necessary to bring them happiness.
When we asked Dimpy what first led her to her studies in cancer research, she told us that, “For almost every disease there is a treatment, but cancer still does not have a treatment that can cure. As soon as you hear the word cancer it scares you. My Dad was my true inspiration, not because anyone in our family had cancer, but because he had complete faith in me that I would become a rising star in the field of cancer research.” Since joining the CERN Foundation, her passion and drive to find a cure for cancer has grown exponentially, especially in regard to finding a cure so that children and adults diagnosed with ependymoma, would have successful treatment options.
Dr. Koul‘s research efforts are focused on finding a therapy to target specific pathways with minimal side effects for patients. Since the development of new therapies for ependymoma is dramatically limited by the absence of optimal in vivo and in vitro models, in the first couple of years, Dimpy and her CERN Foundation colleagues were successful in developing in-vitro and in-vivo models for ependymoma to study the molecular pathways necessary for growth and progression in ependymoma. In addition, these models can be used to study the therapeutic intervention of ependymomas. CERN Foundation researchers have been able to use these models to look at therapeutic approaches to treating ependymoma and testing new drugs on ependymoma that have been identified in Dr. Gilbertson’s drug screenings. Additionally, they have been able to test other conventional chemotherapies and targeted drugs that have already been useful in treating other types of cancers.
When we asked Dimpy about her thoughts on working with the CERN Foundation thus far, she shared the following with us, “At meetings I am always interacting with excellent colleagues and have been able to reach out and collaborate with what I have come to think of as my CERN family. Talking and sharing resources with each other has really enabled me to learn a lot from them. In the past 5 years we have already achieved so much and it is evident through the many Pub med publications, clinical trials that have already been developed. We continue to learn more about the biology of ependymoma and pathways and subgroups have been identified – everything we have learned has increased dramatically.” With the continued help of CERN Foundation colleagues like Dr. Koul we have so much hope for what the next five years will bring to patients’ outcomes and quality of life. We are thankful to Dimpy and her efforts at the CERN Foundation and believe that she has already fulfilled her father’s hopes as we consider her a rising star on our team.
With gratitude and recognition to W.K. Alfred Yung, M.D., Mark Gilbert, M.D., Kenneth Aldape, M.D. and Richard Gilbertson, M.D., Ph.D.