Dr. Tushar Desai is a pulmonary physician who has been committed to basic and translational lung research since his clinical training. His research focuses on cells in the gas exchange region of lung- how they develop, regenerate, and become cancerous.
Dr. Desai has made several foundational insights in lung biology. He recently identified rare lung stem cells that intermittently generate new cells to replace those lost during aging. These stem cells are important for regeneration after lung injury but can become cancerous if not properly regulated.
Dr. Desai's lab is currently investigating the signals that control the activity of these lung stem cells, since medications targeting these signals may also be helpful for controlling cancer growth. Dr. Desai recently co-invented a powerful new staining technology that will allow researchers to simultaneously map the distribution of many different signals in cells within an intact human tissue specimen. Applying this technology to stain tissue biopsies of lung cancer may identify important signals being exchanged between individual tumor and immune or other nearby cells, providing insight into how the tumor functions as an intact ecosystem.
Achieving this holistic level of mechanistic understanding of cancer may in turn suggest diverse signals that can be simultaneously targeted to achieve eradication of the tumor.