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Dr Rama Khokha
Robert L. Noble Prize co-recipient in 2014
Dr Khokha is a highly respected leader in cancer research, in Canada and internationally, who has made exceptional contributions to many aspects of our understanding of cancer – particularly cancers of the breast, liver, lung and bone.
Among her greatest contributions are her discoveries about the impact of the hormone progesterone on breast stem cells, published in Nature in 2010. Through this, she transformed the way researchers think about sex hormone status and stem cells, especially with regard to breast cancer risk. She has made numerous contributions to advancing research methods, including a screening method for cancer-causing gene mutations (published in 2014 in Nature Genetics) and her innovative genetic mouse models, which she and many scientists have used to advance our understanding of the disease process. She has also been invaluable in building scientific understanding of the tumour microenvironment and how it helps dictate what happens to cells. She has often demonstrated an appreciation of the importance of an area of research long before it was broadly understood by the larger research community. Her publications have collectively been cited almost 9,000 times.
Dr Khokha demonstrates her commitment to the research community through academic service, such as her work to modernize the graduate student curriculum to reflect the multidisciplinary nature of cancer research and her many years as a reviewer and panel chair for the Canadian Cancer Society. Her dedication as a mentor is proven by the number of her past trainees who went on to prestigious positions in cancer research. Finally, her networks with international leaders in cancer research are evidence of her highly collaborative spirit.