Vignesh Gunasekharan, Ph.D.
Contracting Officer Representative
Chemopreventive Agent Development
Vignesh Gunasekharan, Ph.D., serves as a Program Director and Contractor Officer’s Representative in the Chemopreventive Agent Development Research Group (CADRG), Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP), National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Gunasekharan joined DCP in 2021, following an 11-year research career in Molecular Oncology and Virology.
Dr. Gunasekharan’s responsibilities include planning, implementing, and evaluating preventive efficacy projects in the PREVENT Cancer Preclinical Drug Development Program (PREVENT). He also manages contracts for the PREVENT program; grants for CADRG; and cooperative agreements for Cancer Prevention-Interception Targeted Agent Discovery Program (CAP-IT).
Dr. Gunasekharan holds a Ph.D. in cancer biology from Queen’s University in the United Kingdom. Before joining CADRG, he worked as a faculty and lab director at the Yale Cancer Center where he led a pre-clinical drug development team that helped to develop targeted therapeutics against triple-negative breast cancer. At the Yale Cancer Center, he also led a team that developed a metabolic inhibitor that was selected among the top 22 biotech opportunities at the Yale Lifesciences Pitchfest 2020.
During his postdoctoral training at Northwestern University, Dr. Gunasekharan studied Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) pathogenesis and helped to identify host-pathogen interactions critical for viral life cycle events. His work was one of the first to identify that viral genomes contain human miRNA target sequences, which viruses exploit using human miRNA machinery to regulate viral gene expression and replication. His mentorship of graduate students and junior scientists led to the identification of several other host-pathogen interactions critical to viral life cycle events.