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June 5, 2013

Bassett doctor earns research award

It has been a rewarding — and awarding — year for Nischala Ammannagari, M.D., a medical resident in her second year of training at Bassett Medical Center.

Ammannagari has been named the winner of the E. Donnall Thomas Outstanding Research Presentation Award for 2013. Her research project and poster were among 12 recently presented as part of the E. Donnall Thomas Research Day.

Ammannagari’s research was also presented at the New York Chapter American College of Physicians meeting earlier this year and won first prize for best resident research.

The E. Donnall Thomas Award is given annually to a Bassett trainee who has conducted exceptional research while at Bassett Medical Center during residency. The award is named in honor of E. Donnall Thomas, who served as Bassett’s physician-in-chief from 1955 to 1963. He was awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation, which he began at Bassett. Thomas performed the world’s first human bone marrow transplant at Bassett in 1956.

Ammannagari, whose project was titled “Impact of obesity on the efficacy of colon cancer treatment,” said her research on the subject will continue.

“As diet-induced obesity is a major health problem worldwide, I chose to conduct a study to see if there was a relationship between obesity and the response to chemotherapy in colon cancer,” Ammannagari said. “Interestingly, it was found that obesity does affect the treatment response, as it seems to block the intended action of chemotherapy. I plan to study the cell-signaling pathways that get activated in the setting of obesity, with an intention to look for new focused therapeutic agents in cancer patients with obesity and metabolic syndrome.”

Ammannagari worked on the study project with Erin Gillaspie, M.D., Michael Greene, Ph.D., Christine Burrington and Melissa Horsman from the research lab at Bassett Medical Center; and Anush Patel, M.D., attending physician in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.

Ammannagari earned her medical degree from SVS Medical College, India, and plans to pursue a career in medical oncology.

“Dr. Ammannagari’s scholarly work represents her well,” says Patel. “Her recent poster at American College of Physicians and the E. Donnall Thomas Outstanding Research Award supports her ongoing efforts in becoming a researcher and a caring physician. Her dedication, enthusiasm and insight are inspiring.”

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