Only one person every year in the radiation biology field earns the honor that 2020 V Scholar Aadel Chaudhuri just received – the Michael Fry Research Award from the Radiation Research Society. The award honors the country’s most promising radiation biologists at the junior faculty level.
“When I found out, my reaction was that someone must have made a huge mistake,” Aadel said (laughing). “It is humbling to earn this honor.”
Chaudhuri, an assistant professor in radiation oncology and a physician scientist who treats lung cancer at Washington University in St. Louis, found out about the honor while he was leading a Zoom meeting – a Zoom meeting he had to eventually stop short of its fully scheduled time. His mentor, Charles Thomas Jr., MD, an ardent advocate for diversity and inclusion and Chief of the Section of Radiation Oncology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, texted him to break the news. Dr. Thomas is the person who nominated Aadel for the award, along with Dr. Dennis Hallahan at Washington University and Dr. Maximilian Diehn at Stanford.
Radiation oncology uses radiation to treat cancer. Radiation biology studies, in part, the health effects of radiation. Dr. Chaudhuri is learning more about the health effects of radiation through liquid biopsies, which takes a fluid like a blood sample to predict the risk of cancer recurrence by measuring if the patient who has been treated with radiation has any tumor DNA remaining in his or her body.
In his ideal future, Chaudhuri hopes a blood test will be able to determine if a patient has cancer or how well the tumor is responding to treatment, leading to more personalized treatments. Additionally, the blood test would be used post-treatment to assess the risk of the cancer coming back. Dr. Chaudhuri has shown in his research how circulating tumor DNA in the blood of localized lung cancer patients can be measured shortly after completing their radiation treatment. This helped start the field of solid tumor “molecular residual disease” (MRD), now proven to be a powerfully prognostic biomarker across several cancer types.
As part of the honor, Dr. Chaudhuri will speak at the Radiation Research Society’s 68th Annual Meeting in Hawaii in October, giving him the opportunity to share the difference he’s making in cancer research with both younger and established scientists from across the country.
Heading to Hawaii, in part thanks to his mentors, Dr. Charles Thomas Jr., Dr. Dennis Hallahan, and Dr. Maximilian Diehn
And that team approach is just one of the ways in which Dr. Chaudhuri sees how doctors like himself are a lot like the athletes we follow, the athletes who are a part of the V Foundation’s fabric and history.
“We have a competitive desire to overcome obstacles and make a positive difference in this world.”
A summary of Dr. Chaudhuri’s work through his V Foundation Scholar grant is available here.