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Academics (US & Canada) | NRI of the year – 2014

The story of courage, care, and cure against cancer in children.

The Crusader Against Cancer

The story of courage, care, and cure against cancer in children.

Cancer is bad. And a cancer diagnosis in a child shatters the entire family. It is was during her pediatric residency at Sir Hurkisondas Nurrotumdas (HN) Hospital and Research Center, Mumbai, did Mala realise the courage it takes to break the news of cancer diagnosis to parents. While the hospital didn’t have a pediatric oncology unit, Mala’s learnings from her interaction with a few child patients led her to dedicate her life to treating and curing cancer.

Mala Kiran Talekar

NRI of the Year 2014, Academics(USA)

Mala observed that although there were many advanced medical technologies available for adult cancer patients, the pediatric protocols were not the most current. When Mala realised that while one cannot direct the winds, but one can adjust the sails, she decided to move to the United States to further her study in Pediatric Hematology Oncology and to develop a research career.

After completing her residency from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the top ranking children’s hospital in the US, Mala followed it up with a Pediatric Hematology Oncology Fellowship program at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. When one of her patients was diagnosed with Disseminated Peripheral T cell Lymphoma – a very rare form of Non- Hodgkin Lymphoma in childhood that proved to be progressive and resistant to all forms of chemotherapy – she decided to pursue her research in the field of novel drugs for childhood cancer. Mala’s research soon found headway in the form of Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) which is a normal protein that the human body makes and holds the potential of selectively killing cancer cells. After extensively researching on TRAIL-based therapies which were being developed for treatment of childhood cancers, Mala proposed her preliminary concept of exploring TRAIL based therapy for pediatric lymphoma to Dr. Wafik El-Deiry, who accepted to mentor Mala

Mala’s experiments in the laboratory have shown that the agent – ONC201 appears to be very effective on lymphoma in the laboratory. Her research has been presented at major national meetings in 2013 of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society for Pediatric Hematology Oncology (ASPHO), and American Society of Hematology(ASH).

For her outstanding work, Mala has been awarded the ASH 2013 Meeting Abstract Achievement Award, the Outstanding Advocate Achievement Award and has been recognised for providing great care to cancer patient and their families.

“NRI of the Year Awards – S5, 2018 – Registrations Open – USA”

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