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Sara Sukumar

Saraswati Sukumar, PhD, is the Barbara B. Rubenstein Professor of Oncology and Professor of Pathology, and a preceptor in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, Human Genetics and the Pathobiology graduate programs. She is the Assistant Director of Faculty Affairs at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

She has served as the Principal Investigator of the DOD’s Center of Excellence, NCI’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) and of the AVON Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr. Sukumar has worked in the breast cancer field since her postdoctoral training at National Cancer Institute at Bethesda MD. There she established that RAS oncogenes were present in carcinogen induced mammary tumor models in rats and mice, and showed that the nature of the mutations in the oncogene reflected the chemical specificity of the carcinogen action on DNA. She joined her first faculty position at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA in 1988, and then moved to Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in 1994 as Associate Professor to assume the position of Director of Basic Research at the newly formed breast cancer research program. She was promoted to Professor in 2001. She has authored more than 180 publications. Her laboratory’s work spans the entire spectrum of basic research to preclinical studies, and all the way to translation to the clinic. A blood test, called cMethDNA measuring methylation markers in free DNA has been validated in a clinical trial, and is being automated for use in predicting the course of disease and for prognosticating the outcome of breast cancer. Her current research focus is to implement a rapid, automated diagnosis platform using fine needle aspirates for breast cancer in the underdeveloped parts of the world.

Dr. Sukumar is very active both in the Johns Hopkins and outside community. She has participated and chaired many grant review committees in the NIH, DOD, and Susan G Komen Foundation. She served as a scientific advisory board member of the SGKF for the Cure and is currently a scientific advisory board member of the AVON Research Foundation, and the Susan Love Research Foundation. She is a senior editor for Cancer Research and several other journals. She is an avid supporter of equal representation for women faculty in the center as well as in the school of medicine as a whole. This has resulted in greater awareness and closer attention to this question. She has mentored over 40 postdoctoral fellows and researchers in her career, many of whom are in academic research positions. She is committed to their success not only as fellows but also as independent researchers, helping them get established in their careers