Distinguished scientist: Moorthy Ponnusamy, PhD

February 09, 2022

Image with caption: Moorthy Ponnusamy, PhD

Moorthy Ponnusamy, PhD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on Feb. 24 for UNMC's 2021 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

Distinguished Scientist Award

The Distinguished Scientist Award -- which is sponsored by the chancellor -- recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists at UNMC during the past five years.

  • Name: Moorthy Ponnusamy, PhD 
  • Title: Associate professor in the UNMC Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 
  • Joined UNMC: January 2006  
  • Hometown: Poolambadi, Perambalur (Dt), Tamil Nadu, India  

Please give a one to three-word description of your research focus:  

  • Cancer stem cells 
  • Pancreatic and ovarian cancers 
  • Therapeutic targets 

Why is research important in the world today?  

My research is focused on the identification and characterization of cancer stem cell populations in pancreatic and ovarian cancers. Over the last several years, it has been evident that a small population of cancer cells, referred to as cancer stem cells, is responsible for the disease aggressiveness, resistance to therapy and spread of the tumor. Cancer stem cells are difficult to target using conventional therapies because they are drug resistant. We have identified a novel biomarker, pancreatic differentiation 2 (PD2), involved in the maintenance of drug resistance and self-renewal of cancer stem cells in ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Our current research is focused on investigating the impact of PD2 in the self-renewal and drug-resistance of cancer stem cells for this lethal disease.  

My research will make a difference because: Cancer stem cells, a small subset of the tumor population, play a central role in tumorigenesis and metastasis in different cancers. Metastasis is the primary cause of cancer-related deaths; therefore, identifying specific molecular mechanisms contributing to metastasis is highly prioritized. Therefore, my research focuses on understanding the stemness properties in heterogeneous cancer stem cells and how these populations contribute to the metastasis of aggressive cancers. Identifying a biomarker for the maintenance of cancer stem cells would provide critical information for the long-term goal of developing novel targeted therapy against lethal cancers. Furthermore, my other goal is to establish a 3D organoid culture to understand therapy response, since it mimics tumor biology and physiology better than monolayer culture and provides scope for personalized treatment. 

The best advice I’ve ever received: “Hard work never fails” This is what Surinder Batra, PhD, my mentor, always tells me. Dr. Batra is my inspiration for hard work. Furthermore, my PhD mentors, Halagowder Devaraj, PhD, and Niranjali Devaraj, PhD, taught me “sincerity and punctuality,” which helped me build my career. In addition, my father always tells me, “Believe yourself, you can archive.”

Three things you may not know about me are: 

  • My wife, Kanchana, is a software engineer, and we are proud parents of a beautiful daughter, Meghna, and a handsome son, Rudransh.  
  • I enjoy reading Tamil literature and biographies of successful leaders.
  • I enjoy gardening.

Gopalakrishnan Natarajan
February 24, 2022 at 4:52 PM

Hearty Congratulations to Dr. Moorthy

Gopalakrishnan Natarajan
February 24, 2022 at 4:50 PM

Hearty Congratulations to Dr. Moorthy

Kusum K. Kharbanda
February 21, 2022 at 11:34 AM

Congratulations, Moorthy!

Jawed Siddiqui
February 10, 2022 at 6:18 AM

Congratulations, Dr. Moorty.

Chidam Alagar
February 09, 2022 at 9:46 PM

Congratulations Dr. Moorthy!

February 09, 2022 at 7:47 PM

Heartiest Congratulations to you Dr Moorthy!! You are an inspiration!

Devi Arikketh
February 09, 2022 at 7:28 PM

Congratulations Moorthy

Saiprasad Gowrikumar
February 09, 2022 at 7:24 PM

Congratulations Dear Dr. Moorthy!

Yashpal Singh Chhonker
February 09, 2022 at 1:29 PM

Congratulations Dr Moorthy!

Ramesh Ramalingam
February 09, 2022 at 1:17 PM

Congratulations Moorthy. Wishing you all the best. Ramesh

Sathish Kumar Natarajan
February 09, 2022 at 12:08 PM

Congratulations Moorthy!!!

Karuna Rasineni
February 09, 2022 at 10:55 AM

Congratulations Moorthy!

February 09, 2022 at 10:42 AM

Hai Dear Dr. Moorthi Ponnusamy PhD Congratulations For Your AchievementπŸ€πŸ‘πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

Murali Ganesan
February 09, 2022 at 10:07 AM

Congratulations Moorthy.

Parthasarathy Seshacharyulu
February 09, 2022 at 9:36 AM

Congrats Dr. Moorthy!.

Parvez Khan
February 09, 2022 at 9:11 AM

Congratulations!!! Dr. Moorthy

February 09, 2022 at 9:07 AM

Congratulations Moorthy

February 09, 2022 at 9:02 AM

Hearty congratulations Dr. Moorthy!

Wasim Nasser
February 09, 2022 at 8:56 AM

Congratulations Moorthy! Well deserved.

Venkatesh Varadharaj
February 09, 2022 at 8:45 AM

Congratulations Dr Moorthy.

Babu Guda
February 09, 2022 at 8:39 AM

Congratulations Moorthy! Well deserved.

Surendra Kumar Shukla
February 09, 2022 at 8:33 AM

Congratulations Dr. Moorthy!

Sandy Goetzinger-Comer
February 09, 2022 at 8:10 AM

This is exciting research!! Thank you for dedicating your life to finding ways to fight this disease!!

Asad Ur Rehman
February 09, 2022 at 7:40 AM

Congratulations Dr. Moorty!

Amar singh
February 09, 2022 at 7:37 AM

Many congratulations Moorthy. Well deserved. We are proud of you and your work.

Prakash Radhakrishnan
February 09, 2022 at 6:25 AM

Congratulations Moorthy.

February 09, 2022 at 6:08 AM

My hearty congratulations Anna!