Nita Ahuja

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Nita Ahuja is the Chair of the Department of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine and Surgeon-in-Chief of Surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital.[1] She is the first woman ever to serve as Chair of Surgery in Yale in its >200 year history. [2] Before taking this position she was the first woman ever to be the Chief of Surgical Oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, USA. [3] Ahuja researches in the field of epigenetics. She also served as the director of Sarcoma and peritoneal surface malignancy program. She is a surgeon-scientist and her research has been cited more than 11,000 times in scientific literature.[4]

Born in India, she migrated to the United States in early childhood with her parents. Her journey into the world of science started as a laboratory technician in Dept. of Immunology, National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda. She was awarded with "Outstanding College Students of America" and "Alpha-omega-alpha original research award" for her outstanding research work. She joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 2003 after studying medicine at Duke University and surgery at Johns Hopkins.[3]

Ahuja runs a research laboratory focused on understanding the epigenetic dysregulation in gastrointestinal cancers such as colorectal cancers and pancreas cancers and translating the information to develop biomarkers and epigenetic therapeutics.[5] Her work initially as a postdoctoral research fellow twenty years ago identified the concept of CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) or CpG island hypermethylation in colorectal cancer.[6] This concept of CIMP now is known to have implications for prognosis as well as response to therapy. CIMP has now been shown to exist in multiple other tumor types such as glioblastomas, leukemia, duodenal cancers etc. Her laboratory has also identified biomarkers for early detection of colorectal and pancreas cancer using non-invasive body fluids such as serum or plasma.[7] These biomarkers have been licensed and are currently being developed into a commercial assay. Ahuja also led the epigenetic therapy trials in solid tumors as part of the Stand Up To Cancer consortium since 2008 and since then her laboratory has generated preclinical data for the next generation of clinical epigenetic trials conducted nationally and internationally.[8][9] She is co-author of a 2016 report for the Society of University Surgeons on barriers facing surgeon-scientists in basic science,[10] as well as Johns Hopkins guides for patients, including on pancreatic cancer.[11]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Message".
  3. ^ a b "Nita Ahuja M.D." Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Bio".
  5. ^ "Ahuja Lab, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes".
  6. ^ Toyota, M; Ahuja, N; Ohe-Toyota, M; Herman, JG; Baylin, SB; Issa, JP (July 1999). "CpG island methylator phenotype in colorectal cancer". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 96: 8681–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.15.8681. PMC 17576. PMID 10411935.
  7. ^ Yi, JM; Guzzetta, AA; Bailey, VJ; Downing, SR; Van Neste, L; Chiappinelli, KB; Keeley, BP; Stark, A; Herrera, A; Wolfgang, C; Pappou, EP; Iacobuzio-Donahue, CA; Goggins, MG; Herman, JG; Wang, TH; Baylin, SB; Ahuja, N (1 December 2013). "Novel methylation biomarker panel for the early detection of pancreatic cancer". Clinical Cancer Research. 19 (23): 6544–55. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-3224. PMC 4310572. PMID 24088737.
  8. ^ Azad, NS; El-Khoueiry, A; Yin, J; Oberg, AL; Flynn, P; Adkins, D; Sharma, A; Weisenberger, DJ; Brown, T; Medvari, P; Jones, PA; Easwaran, H; Kamel, I; Bahary, N; Kim, G; Picus, J; Pitot, HC; Erlichman, C; Donehower, R; Shen, H; Laird, PW; Piekarz, R; Baylin, S; Ahuja, N. "Combination epigenetic therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with subcutaneous 5-azacitidine and entinostat: a phase 2 consortium/stand up 2 cancer study". Oncotarget. 8: 35326–35338. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.15108. PMID 28186961.
  9. ^ Connolly, RM; Li, H; Jankowitz, RC; Zhang, Z; Rudek, MA; Jeter, SC; Slater, SA; Powers, P; Wolff, AC; Fetting, JH; Brufsky, A; Piekarz, R; Ahuja, N; Laird, PW; Shen, H; Weisenberger, DJ; Cope, L; Herman, JG; Somlo, G; Garcia, AA; Jones, PA; Baylin, SB; Davidson, NE; Zahnow, CA; Stearns, V. "Combination Epigenetic Therapy in Advanced Breast Cancer with 5-Azacitidine and Entinostat: A Phase II National Cancer Institute/Stand Up to Cancer Study". Clin Cancer Res. 23: 2691–2701. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-1729. PMC 5457329. PMID 27979916.
  10. ^ Keswani, SG; Moles, CM; Morowitz, M; Zeh, H; Kuo, JS; Levine, MH; Cheng, LS; Hackam, DJ; Ahuja, N; Goldstein, AM; Basic Science Committee of the Society of University, Surgeons. (16 September 2016). "The Future of Basic Science in Academic Surgery: Identifying Barriers to Success for Surgeon-scientists". Annals of Surgery. 265: 1053–1059. doi:10.1097/SLA.0000000000002009. PMC 5450912. PMID 27643928.
  11. ^ Ahuja, Nita; Coleman, JoAnn (2010). Johns Hopkins Patients' Guide to Pancreatic Cancer. Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN 9781449632762. Retrieved 23 April 2017.