Tannishtha Reya, PhD

Tannishtha Reya, PhD
​Department of PharmacologyUniversity of California San Diego
San Diego, California

Tannishtha Reya received her B.A. from Williams College and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently she completed her postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University. Dr. Reya joined the Duke University faculty in 2001 and served as the Co-Director of the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Program at the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was recruited to the University of California San Diego in 2010 where she is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, a member of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and co-director of the Stem Cell Program at the Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Reya has made key contributions to the field of cancer biology by defining the signals that control stem cell growth, and how these signals are subverted to drive cancer progression and therapy resistance. This includes demonstration that Wnt and Hedgehog signaling are key players in promoting resistance and residual disease in myeloid leukemia, work that formed part of the basis of ongoing clinical trials testing Hedgehog antagonists as a possible therapy for poor prognosis hematologic malignancies.  She also pioneered the development of single cell imaging to track asymmetric division in mammalian stem cells and showed that loss of asymmetric division can be a critical trigger for cancer progression; this led to the discovery that regulators of asymmetric division such as the stem cell determinant Musashi, are key drivers of aggressive cancers, and important targets for diagnostics and therapy. In an effort to build a more systems view of cancer growth in vivo, her group has recently developed a high resolution imaging system to non-invasively map the interactions and behavior of cancer cells within the microenvironment of living animals, and define how these change during disease progression and the rise of therapy resistance.

For her work, Dr. Reya has received several awards, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health.