Veena Padmanaban

Metastasis is the primary driver of cancer-related deaths. Yet, its mechanisms remain poorly characterized. The current model of metastasis is based on loss of the cell-cell adhesion protein (E-cadherin) as a driver of cancer cell invasion and distant colonization; it is therefore classified as a tumor/ metastasis suppressor. My work directly demonstrates that, although E-cadherin suppresses invasion, its expression is required for successful metastasis in most breast cancers. I show that E-cadherin is a survival factor whose expression is essential for limiting oxidative-stress mediated cell death in cancer cells during metastasis.

Questions & Answers

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?

Johns Hopkins is at the frontier of biomedical research and fosters an environment of collaboration and sustained encouragement of its trainees. It is also an institute with a rich history and a pedigree of great scientists. We have a great community of mentors who are genuinely invested in their students’ success. The supportive and close-knit network of graduate students further strengthened my decision to complete my graduate training at Hopkins.

What contributed to your project’s success? 

The continued support, encouragement and guidance provided by my Ph.D. adviser, Andrew Ewald, is key to my project’s success. Together, we worked toward identifying an important question, developing experimental strategies to effectively test our hypotheses and executing these ideas. I am also thankful for the countless discussions with others in the lab and collaborations that were critical in drawing some key conclusions. I am proud of what we were together able to achieve.

What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators’ Day itself, as a celebration of the roles students and fellows play in research at Johns Hopkins?

Young Investigators’ Day is a celebration of exceptional trainees at Johns Hopkins. I remember attending the ceremony in 2015 and being inspired to be on the stage one day. During the course of their research, most students/ postdocs persevere through failed experiments and long hours, and the excitement of science may be forgotten. The Young Investigators’ Awards provide a tangible measure of success that students aspire toward.

What are your plans over the next year or so? Graduating, looking for faculty positions, etc.?

I will be receiving my Ph.D. in cell biology in April 2019. I am planning to transition to an academic postdoctoral fellowship in July.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.

I enjoy taking road trips (sometimes extremely long ones), hiking and exploring new towns/cities with family and friends.