With CPRIT funding, UTA cancer researcher establishes new lab

Piya Ghose, assistant professor of biology

With $2 million in support from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), The University of Texas at Arlington has added an emerging leader in cancer biology to its faculty and fortified its cancer research enterprise.

Piya Ghose, assistant professor of biology, came to UTA in January 2020 with an established portfolio of investigations into programmed cell death, which has major implications for cancer treatment.

Ghose describes the CPRIT award, established to support young investigators and first-time, tenure-track faculty members, as an honor and coming to UTA as an exciting opportunity to have her scientific voice heard.

“To be recognized among a cohort of numerous strong, young scientists is an honor, and it is motivating to look at the CPRIT scholars that have come before me,” Ghose said. “This award has opened up my world and is allowing me to pursue big, ambitious questions from the jump. It, along with the supportive and connected nature of UTA, really allows me to hit the ground running.”

Since arriving on the UTA campus, Ghose has been building her laboratory team and using the CPRIT funds to acquire sophisticated equipment that will expand her research in a “game-changing way.”

Ghose’s broad interests in genetics and cell and developmental biology led her to study programmed cell death, which, when defective, can lead to cancer through the creation of tumors. She describes her work as a “fundamental approach to cancer biology,” looking at how cells remodel, live and die.

Ghose is currently studying a special form of programmed cell death she discovered in her postdoctoral studies at the Rockefeller University called compartmentalized cell elimination, in which different parts of a cell degenerate in different ways. She said understanding this concept could lead to an understanding of how tumors behave throughout the body.

“I’m excited to discover what this concept can teach us in how we approach cancer,” Ghose said. “Through the CPRIT proposal, I got the chance to think about how I identify as a scientist and how I can utilize my interests to have an impact that will benefit the world. I feel at home at UTA and in what I’m doing. The years of effort are proving to be worth it.”

Ghose said she has been excited by the climate and energy of UTA and is thrilled by the level of diversity of all kinds on campus and how it is playing into her lab.

“It is invigorating for people of all backgrounds and cultures to come together through a love of science, and it definitely enhances our work,” she said.

“CPRIT’s investment in bringing Dr. Ghose to UTA is a recognition of not only the critical role she will undoubtedly play in the Texas cancer research community, but also of our University as one that cultivates excellence and empowers young faculty to make an impact,” UTA College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. “I am thrilled to have Piya on our faculty and look forward to the numerous ways she will enrich all facets of scholarship in our college and at UTA.”

/Public Release. View in full here.