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Sheelu  Varghese

Sheelu Varghese Ph.D.

Academic Title: Assistant Professor
Primary Appointment: Surgery
Location: 655 West Baltimore Street, 10-45
Phone: 410-706-8452
Lab: 410-706-0279

Personal History:


  • 1993: M.Sc., M.G. University, Kerala
  • 1996: M.Phil., University of Kerala
  • 2000: Ph.D., University of Kerala
  • 2000-2001: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Canada
  • 2001-2004: Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Cellular Carcinogenesis and Tumor Promotion, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD.
  • 2004-2006: Postdoctoral Fellow, Surgery Branch, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Varghese is a member of the Experimental Therapeutics Program within the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine. Experimental Therapeutics researchers collaborate with both basic and clinical research investigators, focusing on the rapid transfer of knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic. Dr. Varghese’s research centers on the identification of novel genes and proteins that are important targets in cancer stem cells.

Research Interests:

Growing evidence suggests that cancer stem cells serve as the source for the heterogeneous cell populations found in solid-organ tumors. Dr. Varghese's research focuses on cancer stem cell biology; particularly the mechanisms responsible for self-renewal and differentiation of cancer stem cells in solid-organ tumors.

We have demonstrated in abdominal cancers that cell proliferation and differentiation of cancer stem cells into endothelial lineage is important for tumor initiation and progression. Our efforts are directed toward understanding the nature and function of genes that regulate the process of self-renewal and differentiation in cancer stem cells and how various gene networks contribute to cancer progression. Utilizing innovative combinations of in vitro techniques for transcriptional profiling, cell culture-based assays, proteomics as well as in vivo xenotransplantation experiments our studies are targeted towards providing new insights into mechanisms of tumor progression in human cancers.

Asymmetric cancer stem cell division


Varghese S, Burness M, Xu H, Beresnev T, Pingpank J, Alexander HR. Site-specific gene expression profiles and novel molecular prognostic factors in patients with lower gastrointestinal adenocarcinoma diffusely metastatic to liver or peritoneum. Ann Surg Oncol. 2007;14(12):3460-71.

Varghese S, Xu H, Bartlett D, Hughes M, Pingpank JF, Beresnev T, Alexander HR Jr. Isolated hepatic perfusion with high-dose melphalan results in immediate alterations in tumor gene expression in patients with metastatic ocular melanoma. Ann Surg Oncol. 2010;17(7):1870-7.

Varghese S, Chen Z, Bartlett DL, Pingpank JF, Libutti SK, Steinberg SM, Wunderlich J, Alexander HR Jr. Activation of the phosphoinositide- 3-kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathways are associated with shortened survival in patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. Cancer. 2011;117(2):361-71.

Varghese S, Whipple R, Martin SS, Alexander HR. Multipotent cancer stem cells derived from human malignant peritoneal mesothelioma promote tumorigenesis. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52825.