Researcher’s Profile

Swarnali Acharyya, PhD

Research Statement: 

The broad focus of our laboratory is exploring mechanisms of drug resistance and cancer metastasis. These are two major challenges that significantly limit anti-cancer therapy and claim millions of lives worldwide.

Metastasis originates from the Greek word meaning “change of place” and is the process by which cancer cells spread from their original site of origin to other parts of the body. Even if the primary tumor is diagnosed early, surgically removed or treated, cancer cells can remain in the body often culminating in aggressive metastatic disease, sometimes even after decades. Patients with metastatic disease often show poor response to conventional therapies and succumb to death.

The goal of our laboratory is to identify new mediators of metastasis and to develop strategies to sensitize these metastases to more effective therapies.

We utilize a combination of genetically engineered and xenograft mouse models to understand the process of metastasis.

We actively collaborate with clinical investigators to model the development and treatment of metastatic disease in preclinical models (see Figure B) and to validate our findings in patient-derived clinical samples.
We are particularly interested in investigating the tumor-microenvironment interactions that promote the growth and survival of metastasis and those that dictate therapeutic response.

Our primary focus lies on two types of solid tumors - metastatic breast cancer and lung cancer.


Wang G, Biswas AK, Ma W, Kandpal M, Coker C, Grandgenett PM, Hollingsworth MA, Jain R, Tanji K, Lόpez-Pintado S, Borczuk A, Hebert D, Jenkitkasemwong S, Hojyo S, Davuluri RV, Knutson MD, Fukada T, Acharyya S. Metastatic cancers promote cachexia through ZIP14 upregulation in skeletal muscle. Nat Med. 2018 Jun;24(6):770-781. doi: 10.1038/s41591-018-0054-2.

Consul N, Guo X, Coker C, Lopez-Pintado S, Hibshoosh H, Zhao B, Kalinsky K, Acharyya S. Monitoring Metastasis and Cachexia in a Patient with Breast Cancer: A Case Study. Clin Med Insights Oncol. 2016 Sep 11;10:83-94.

Shiono M, Huang K, Downey RJ, Consul N, Villanueva N, Beck K, Fenn K, Dietz D, Yamaguchi T, Kato S, Divgi C, Kalinsky K, Wei Y, Zhang Y, Borczuk AC, Inoue A, Halmos B, Acharyya S. An analysis of the relationship between metastases and cachexia in lung cancer patients.  Cancer Med. 2016 Aug 3. doi: 10.1002/cam4.841.

Acharyya S, Massague J.  Arresting supporters: targeting neutrophils in metastasis.  Cell Res. 2016 Mar;26(3):273-4. doi: 10.1038/cr.2016.17.

Acharyya S, Oskarsson T, Vanharanta S, Malladi S, Kim J, Morris PG, Manova-Todorova K, Leversha M, Hogg N, Seshan VE, Norton L, Brogi E and Massague J, A CXCL1 paracrine network links cancer chemoresistance and metastasis. Cell, 150(1), 165-178(2012). PMID 22770218