Sanchita Bhatnagar Interview


The KTB is pleased to introduce you to Dr. Sanchita Bhatnagar, who requested and received KTB samples to work with in her lab at the University of Virginia.


Q: How did you find out about the Komen Tissue Bank, and why did it interest you?

Komen Tissue Bank is very well known for its contribution to breast cancer research. My lab recently identified the function of TRIM37 in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) metastasis. As a follow-up study, we began to investigate TRIM37 role in TNBC racial disparity. In a very early stage of the project, we realized that non-cancerous breast tissue is a limiting factor. Our literature search pointed us to Komen Tissue Bank, which is the only resource for normal breast tissue. We would like to thank Jill Henry and Dr. Natascia Marino who helped us to build a strong collaboration for the project.

Q: What types of samples have you obtained from the Komen Tissue Bank?

We have obtained breast tissue samples from African American and Caucasian women.

Q: What do you hope to discover/have you discovered in your research? 

TNBC incidence is disproportionately higher in African American (AA) women than other races, signifying racial disparity. Whether earlier onset or advanced-stage at the time of diagnosis, an aggressive tumor phenotype is a characteristic feature of TNBC in AA women. Consequentially, a 5-year survival rate for TNBC in AA patients is only 14% compared to 36% in non-African American women. Although disparities in treatment, co-morbid disease, and access to health care contribute to poor prognosis, we cannot rule out a race-specific biological component to TNBC disparity. My lab is investigating the genetic determinants of racial disparity in breast cancer.

Q: How will the Komen Tissue Bank samples help with your research? What value do they add?

The samples from Komen Bank are vital for our research program. To identify race-specific biological factors, we need to compare tissues from African American and Caucasian breast tissues. These samples are not readily available. Our collaboration with Komen Tissue Bank enabled these studies in our lab.

Q: Please explain in lay terms how your research might impact treatment options for BC patients in the future?

If successful, the resulting information will help reduce the racial disparities in clinical outcomes of TNBC. Our results may establish the clinical utility of oncogenic signatures as a risk predictor and/or therapeutic target for effective disease management. 

Q: Our readers would love to know some personal information about you. What would you like to share with us?

Outside lab, I am a busy mom of two beautiful boys. We have a busy schedule, but we try our best to spend time together that include soccer practices, music recitals, hikes, biking, playing basketball, and dinner table. We travel a lot together as a family, but our best vacation place is Disney and would love to go there more often.


Thank you so much for this great information, Dr. Bhatnagar, and for taking the time to be interviewed for the newsletter. We wish you all the best. Check out Dr. Bhatnagar’s great lab website here.  Post script…Dr. Bhatnagar recently moved her lab from the University of Virginia to UC-Davis.