Thoracic Oncology Program »  Meet the Team »  Basic Scientists »  Bhairavi Tolani, Ph.D., M.S.

Bhairavi Tolani, Ph.D., M.S.

Assistant Professor
Principal Investigator, Tolani Lab

Contact Information

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  • University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, Ph.D., Molecular Biology, 2013
  • Hood College, Frederick, Maryland, M.S., Biomedical Sciences, 2007
  • Hood College, Frederick, Maryland, B.A., Biochemistry, 2004
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, 2013-2014
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF Thoracic Oncology Lab, 2014-2015
  • Thoracic Oncology Program
  • Thoracic Oncology Laboratory
  • UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • UCSF Department of Surgery
  • Epigenetics & Virology
  • Hedgehog and other developmental pathway signaling
  • Small molecule inhibitors and biologics
  • Stem cell biology & cancer stem cells
  • Targeted therapies for lung and other cancers

Bhairavi (Vivi) Tolani, Ph.D., M.S. is a Principal Investigator in the Thoracic Oncology Lab, having initially joined the lab in June 2014 as a postdoctoral scholar. Dr. Tolani's research is focused on developing targeted therapies, small molecule inhibitors and biologics, for lung cancer.

Dr. Tolani provides research mentorship and supervision to surgical residents in UCSF's program as well as visiting thoracic surgeons, technicians and high school students. Prior to beginning her second postdoctoral fellowship  at UCSF, she worked on cancer immunology as a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Research Institute.

Dr. Tolani earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine under the mentorship of Preet Chaudhary M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Nohl Division of Hematology and Blood Diseases at Keck. A self-starter, she convinced the lab to undertake a new project involving small molecule BET epigenetic inhibitor drugs to target blood cancers in collaboration with Dr. James Bradner at Harvard's Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her doctoral research resulted in 5 peer-reviewed publications, and presentations at The American Society of Hematology (ASH) and The Gordon Research Conference.

  • Keller Entrepreneurship Fellow, UC Davis, 2014
  • "Best Poster" at Biology Interdepartmental Graduate Symposium, University of Southern California, 2010
  • "Outstanding Poster Presentation" at the Spring Research Festival, The National Cancer Institute, 2004

Over the past 10 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. Her work in industry earned her "Job Excellence" and "No Matter What it Takes" awards at Invitrogen Life Technologies and Lonza respectively. 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.

  1. 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 Aug 12. View in PubMed
  2. 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. View in PubMed
  3. 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 7; 35(14):1797-810. View in PubMed
  4. 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. View in PubMed
  5. 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. View in PubMed
  6. 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. View in PubMed
  7. 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. View in PubMed
  8. 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. View in PubMed
Publications provided by UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI at UCSF. View profile of Bhairavi Tolani, Ph.D., M.S.
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  1. Gopalakrishnan R, Matta H, Tolani B, Triche T, Bradner JE, Chaudhary PM (2014) Immunomodulatory Drugs are Efficacious against Primary Effusion Lymphoma by Targeting IZKF1, IRF4 and MYC in a CRBN-Dependent Manner and are Synergistic with BRD4 Inhibitors. [ASH poster abstract]
  2. Tolani B, Ly J, Dangaj D, Powell DJ Jr, Danet-Desnoyers G, et al.. (2014) Characterization of the Tumor Microenvironment of a Humanized Mouse Model of ovarian cancer after treatment with anti-B7-H4 recombinant Antibodies. [AACR poster abstract published online]
  3. Tolani B, Goodman M (2010) Binding & Deamination by Activation-Induced Cytidine Deaminase (AID) [Gordon Research Conference poster]

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