University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Bhairavi Tolani, PhD

Bhairavi Tolani, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Surgery, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Experimental Therapeutics

Research Summary

Bhairavi Tolani, Ph.D. provides research mentorship and supervision to surgical residents in UCSF's program as well as visiting thoracic surgeons, technicians and high school students. Dr. Tolani's research is focused on developing targeted therapies, small molecule inhibitors and biologics, for lung cancer.

Over the past 13 years, Dr. Tolani's cancer research experience has been diverse including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer and hematological malignancies spanning academia, industry and the National Institutes of Health. Prior to graduate school, she worked at 3 biotechnology companies [Invitrogen Life Technologies, Lonza, & Digene (Qiagen)] for 3 years. While at Digene, she contributed to the development of a test to detect cervical cancer in women. Concurrently she earned her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences while conducting her thesis research on cancer stem cells and the Hedgehog pathway in breast cancer at the National Cancer Institute.


Hood College B.A. 2001-2004 Biochemistry
Hood College and National Cancer Institute (thesis), M.S., 2005-2007, Biomedical Sciences
University of Southern California, Ph.D., 2007-2013, Molecular Biology
Stanford Research Institute, Postdoc, 2013-2014, Cancer Immunology
University of California, San Francisco, Postdoc, 2014-2015, Translational Oncology

Professional Experience

  • 2004 – 2005
    Technician - DNA Manufacturer, Custom Primers, Invitrogen Life Technologies
  • 2005 – 2006
    Operations Technician, Clonetics/Cell Therapy, Cambrex BioScience (Lonza Corporation) 
  • 2006 – 2007
    Scientific Associate II, Research and Development Dept., Digene Corporation (Qiagen) 
  • 2007 – 2013
    Graduate Research Assistant, Molecular and Computational Biology, Hematology/Oncology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California 
  • 2013 – 2014
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Cancer Immunology, Bioscience Division, Stanford Research Institute 
  • 2014 – 2015
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Thoracic Oncology Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCSF
  • 2015 – present
    Assistant Adjunct Professor, Thoracic Oncology Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCSF

Honors & Awards

  • 2004
    "Outstanding Poster Presentation" Spring Research Festival, National Cancer Institute
  • 2004
    Job Excellence, Invitrogen Life Technologies
  • 2005
    “No Matter What it Takes”, Cambrex BioScience (Lonza)
  • 2010
    "Best Poster" at Biology Interdept. Grad Symposium, University of Southern California
  • 2014
    Keller Entrepreneurship Fellow, University of California, Davis

Selected Publications

  1. Jiang L, Tolani B, Yeh CC, Fan Y, Reza JA, Horvai AE, Xia E, Kratz JR, Jablons DM, Mann MJ. Differential gene expression identifies KRT7 and MUC1 as potential metastasis-specific targets in sarcoma. Cancer Manag Res. 2019; 11:8209-8218.
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  2. Hoang NT, Acevedo LA, Mann MJ, Tolani B. A review of soft-tissue sarcomas: translation of biological advances into treatment measures. Cancer Manag Res. 2018; 10:1089-1114.
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  3. Tolani B, Hoang NT, Acevedo LA, Giroux Leprieur E, Li H, He B, Jablons DM. Preclinical characterization of therapeutic antibodies targeted at the carboxy-terminus of Sonic hedgehog. Oncotarget. 2018 03 06; 9(18):14311-14323.
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  4. Tolani B, Acevedo LA, Hoang NT, He B. Heterogeneous Contributing Factors in MPM Disease Development and Progression: Biological Advances and Clinical Implications. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan 13; 19(1).
    View on PubMed
  5. Chang Y, Tolani B, Nie X, Zhi X, Hu M, He B. Review of the clinical applications and technological advances of circulating tumor DNA in cancer monitoring. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2017; 13:1363-1374.
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  6. Giroux Leprieur E, Tolani B, Li H, Leguay F, Hoang NT, Acevedo LA, Jin JQ, Tseng HH, Yue D, Kim IJ, Wislez M, Wang C, Jablons DM, He B. Membrane-bound full-length Sonic Hedgehog identifies cancer stem cells in human non-small cell lung cancer. Oncotarget. 2017 11 28; 8(61):103744-103757.
    View on PubMed
  7. Li H, Yue D, Jin JQ, Woodard GA, Tolani B, Luh TM, Giroux-Leprieur E, Mo M, Chen Z, Che J, Zhang Z, Zhou Y, Wang L, Hao X, Jablons D, Wang C, He B. Gli promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human lung adenocarcinomas. Oncotarget. 2016 Dec 06; 7(49):80415-80425.
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  8. Yue D, Li H, Che J, Zhang Y, Tolani B, Mo M, Zhang H, Zheng Q, Yang Y, Cheng R, Jin JQ, Luh TW, Yang C, Tseng HH, Giroux-Leprieur E, Woodard GA, Hao X, Wang C, Jablons DM, He B. EMX2 Is a Predictive Marker for Adjuvant Chemotherapy in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinomas. PLoS One. 2015; 10(7):e0132134.
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  9. Gopalakrishnan R, Matta H, Tolani B, Triche T, Chaudhary PM. Immunomodulatory drugs target IKZF1-IRF4-MYC axis in primary effusion lymphoma in a cereblon-dependent manner and display synergistic cytotoxicity with BRD4 inhibitors. Oncogene. 2016 Apr 07; 35(14):1797-810.
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  10. Mo ML, Ma J, Chen Z, Wei B, Li H, Zhou Y, Shi H, Tolani B, Jin JQ, Tseng HH, Shen D, Zhan Y, Li J, Jablons DM, Zhang RQ, Guo Y, He B, Zhou HM. Measurement of genome-wide DNA methylation predicts survival benefits from chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2015 May; 141(5):901-8.
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  11. Tolani B, Matta H, Gopalakrishnan R, Punj V, Chaudhary PM. NEMO is essential for Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-encoded vFLIP K13-induced gene expression and protection against death receptor-induced cell death, and its N-terminal 251 residues are sufficient for this process. J Virol. 2014 Jun; 88(11):6345-54.
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  12. Tolani B, Gopalakrishnan R, Punj V, Matta H, Chaudhary PM. Targeting Myc in KSHV-associated primary effusion lymphoma with BET bromodomain inhibitors. Oncogene. 2014 May 29; 33(22):2928-37.
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  13. Graham C, Matta H, Yang Y, Yi H, Suo Y, Tolani B, Chaudhary PM. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus oncoprotein K13 protects against B cell receptor-induced growth arrest and apoptosis through NF-?B activation. J Virol. 2013 Feb; 87(4):2242-52.
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  14. Matta H, Gopalakrishnan R, Graham C, Tolani B, Khanna A, Yi H, Suo Y, Chaudhary PM. Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus encoded viral FLICE inhibitory protein K13 activates NF-?B pathway independent of TRAF6, TAK1 and LUBAC. PLoS One. 2012; 7(5):e36601.
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