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Lucy alumna Dr Soma Sengupta describes her groundbreaking research in neuro-oncology 

Dr Soma Sengupta (Clinical Medicine) is a neurology trained neuro-oncologist. She is an Associate Professor of Neurology & Rehabilitation Medicine and Associate Director of the Brain Tumor Center at the University of Cincinnati.

“I am a neurologist that prescribes chemotherapy and takes care of the brain tumor survivorship needs with my team of glioblastoma patients and other CNS cancers. I gain a lot of inspiration from my patients and their journeys. I had a childhood friend die of brain cancer, and it became extremely important to me to improve the survival outcomes and quality of life of this group of patients. In my spare time, I am studying for an on-line MBA with healthcare modules, and doing an integrative medicine fellowship. I am extremely concerned about healthcare disparities, and am very keen to improve outcomes by vaious methods. I trained in the UK and in the US. My type of clinical training is exceedingly rare in the U.K. Traditionally neuro-oncology patients in the U.K. are taken care of by radiation oncologists and medical oncologists, and the rare neurology trained neuro-oncologist that there might be in the U.K., does not prescribe chemotherapy.

I have always been interested in music therapy as a “treatment modality for patients who have experienced other types of neurotrauma, like stroke, as well as those who are living with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Harold C. Schott Endowed Chair of Molecular Therapeutics. One of my former mentor’s at Harvard, Gottfried Schlaug also used music therapy and imaging in his stroke patients. Now I want to extend this option to cancer patients, who are suffering from neurocognitive issues due to their treatments.  I reached out to my colleagues, Claudia Rebola, who is an associate dean at DAAP, and Rhonna Shatz, who is a neuro-cognitive neurologist, University of Cincinnati. Claudia, her student and I, designed an app based on my idea of having an adaptive component along with a receptive component. The app is part of a University of Cincinnati Brain Tumor Center Survivorship Project Pilot Feasibility Trial, slated to start in the Winter of 2020.

My father, Samarendralal Sengupta was an inspiration to me. He was a dedicated general practitioner and an obstetrician. He also practiced medicine in Zambia, where he introduced more established obstetric and gynecological practices, in areas that had very high infant and maternal mortality rates. He lived for medicine, and he was definitely an inspiration.

I had done my Ph.D. at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, and then had gone to Yale to do a funded post-doctoral fellowship. However, when I looked into doing the medical side, I was very impressed by the supportive pre-clinical and clinical medicine program that Lucy offered. To this day, I am in touch with Ruth Jones, who is a fabulous and supportive clinical supervisor. I made fantastic friends such as Dr Eleanor Minshall, who is now an Allergy consultant at Sheffield. I also had the great fortune of having Gordon Wright from Clare College, who became a lifelong mentor and friend. In addition, I was always encouraged to do research, and had a productive time in Professor Paul Lehner’s laboratory, and he and his wife Jaana, have remained wonderful friends. I am still in touch with many of my class-mates from my clinical time at Cambridge. Being at Cambridge, was truly a fantastic time of my life. My husband Daniel Pomeranz Krummel (who did a post-doctoral fellowship at the LMB) and I have extremely fond memories of our time at Cambridge, and miss our times walking along the backs.”

Dr Sengupta's research focus

Translational neuro-oncology research laboratory

●     Contribution of membrane transport proteins to cancer development. Of particular interest is a chloride channel, the hetero-pentameric GABA-A neurotransmitter receptor.

●     Membrane transport proteins as anti-cancer therapeutic targets. We are particularly interested in targeting primary and secondary (metastatic) brain tumors. The laboratory works on glioblastoma, medulloblastoma, metastatic melanoma and metastatic lung cancer.

●     Employing new and emerging technology to aid therapeutic delivery to brain tumors.

Clinical neuro-oncology research

●     Survivorship research, improving outcomes using music therapy and other therapies (Chemo-brain study).

●     Health disparities research.

●     Clinical trials (investigator initiated trials)