Vasundara VenkateswaranMSc, MPhil, PhD
Associate Professor Surgery (Urology)
Director, Summer Undergraduate Research Program
Graduate Coordinator and Chair, Graduate Admissions
Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto
Dr. Venkateswaran is a PhD in Clinical Biochemistry and a cancer biologist by training, having devoted over two decades to pursuing cancer research. She completed her postdoctoral training was at the Washington State University and Kansas University Medical Centre, USA. Her primary area of Medical Specialization is Clinical Biochemistry, however has broadened her horizon to encompass other specialization including and Cell biology, Clinical investigation as well as Nutrition and Metabolism.
Dr. Venkateswaran's research interest is in the most fundamental questions regarding the major modifiable cancer risks factors and the interplay between micronutrients, macronutrients, obesity, energy imbalance and consequential hyperinsulinemia, as well as the benefits of physical activity in relation to prostate cancer prevention and progression. She has established a major initiative in the study on the cellular effects of micronutrients particularly vitamin E, selenium and lycopene in prostate cancer. This initiative was essentially started from scratch, has now resulted in a burgeoning research program.
The lab uses a number of in vivo and in vitro techniques to address questions regarding factors that regulate prostate cancer cell growth. Her laboratory comprising of graduate and undergraduate students and Uro-oncology fellows are presently working on several areas of research. The first one focuses on the effects of sustained aerobic exercise on prostate cancer progression. The lab also examines the relationship between dietary carbohydrate, obesity, diet-induced hyperinsulinemia and insulin-mediated signaling. The question under investigation is whether metformin can sensitize and markedly improve the response of prostate cancer cells compared to conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapeutic drugs, by eradicating tumor cells as well as cancer stem cells in the tumors. In addition Capsaicin is currently being studied as a novel radio-sensitizing and therapeutic agent in prostate cancer. One other unique research is the use of Cannabinoid in prostate cancer. The lab has also developed a novel use for Desmopressin (a vasopressin analogue) (this has been patented) that has been tested in combination with chemotherapy to reduce prostate cancer progression.
Dr. Venkateswaran has a huge administrative role at the University of Toronto. She is the “Director” of one of the largest Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), University of Toronto. In addition she is “Graduate Coordinator” and “Chair” of Graduate Admissions at IMS, University of Toronto.
Areas of Specialty and Research Interests
Prostate Cancer Prevention, Treatment Modalities, Dietary agents, Lifestyle Factor, Prostate Cancer Stem Cells, Prostate Cancer Progression