Visitor of the Week: Kranthi Kumar Chougoni


Meet Kranthi Kumar Chougoni of the Virginia Commonwealth University. Kranthi is a PhD student in Dr. Steven R. Grossman’s lab, in the Clinical and Transitional Research with Concentration in Cancer and Molecular Medicine Program. He is currently taking part in our biennially-held Workshop on Pancreatic Cancer which also happens to be his first course at CSHL. 

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
Complex heterogeneity and disease progression of pancreatic cancer is what intrigues me. Currently, I am studying the role of oncoprotein, C-terminal Binding protein (CtBP2) and p38 MAP Kinases in progression of pancreatic cancer.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers with very limited treatment options available because much of the disease’s progression is not known. Dr. Grossman’s lab focuses on pancreatic and colorectal cancer research, and when I got a chance to work in his lab, it was like a “wow” moment for me and I grabbed the opportunity with no second thought.

How did your scientific journey begin?
My undergraduate professors Dr. David Banji and Dr. Otilia Banji, who are extremely talented and hardworking, are a huge inspiration for me. Their pharmacology lab always drew my attention and I was fascinated by the research work carried in their lab and that’s when I decided to become a researcher and make valuable contributions to the science and society. Then, during my Master’s in pharmacology and toxicology at Wright State University, working with Dr. Norma C. Adragna further strengthened my interest in research.

Was there something specific about the Workshop on Pancreatic Cancer that drew you to apply?
I am a basic scientist and I always wanted to know things from a clinical perspective for a better understanding of the disease. This was a perfect opportunity; I had a chance to listen to the lectures from clinicians who actually treat pancreatic cancer patients.

What and/or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the workshop to your work?
It’s about halfway through the workshop and it feels like I learned a ton already, starting from symptoms reported by pancreatic cancer patients to the complex mechanistic progression of cancer. One specific thing I will take back to the lab is co-culturing pancreatic cells with fibroblasts to recapitulate tumor microenvironment. 

What is your key takeaway from the workshop?
One of the key takeaways for me is “to think critically about what you want to do before you actually do and pick the right experiment model” as said by Dr. Kenneth P. Olive. Also to be a “fearless scientist” as said by Dr. Ben Stanger.

If someone curious in attending this workshop asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would totally recommend it after all the wonderful exposure I have had. My only advice would be to come prepared. There are experts all around. All you have to do is come prepared and approach them.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The Banbury campus is so green, peaceful and beautiful. I really enjoyed walking on the beach and talking to other participants. We also played games during the evening breaks and that was so much fun.

Thank you to Kranthi for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.