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

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

Assistant Professor
Division of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery

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 member of 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.

  • Hellman Fellows Fund, UCSF, 2019
  • UCSF RAP Pilot Award, UCSF, 2019
  • 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.

Most recent publications from a total of 13
  1. Hoang NT, Acevedo LA, Mann MJ, Tolani B. A review of soft-tissue sarcomas: translation of biological advances into treatment measures. Cancer Manag Res. 2018; 10:1089-1114. View in PubMed
  2. Tolani B, Hoang NT, Acevedo LA, Giroux Leprieur E, Li H, He B, Jablons DM. Preclinical characterization of therapeutic antibodies targeted at the carboxy-terminus of Sonic hedgehog. Oncotarget. 2018 03 06; 9(18):14311-14323. View in PubMed
  3. Tolani B, Acevedo LA, Hoang NT, He B. Heterogeneous Contributing Factors in MPM Disease Development and Progression: Biological Advances and Clinical Implications. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jan 13; 19(1). View in PubMed
  4. Chang Y, Tolani B, Nie X, Zhi X, Hu M, He B. Review of the clinical applications and technological advances of circulating tumor DNA in cancer monitoring. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2017; 13:1363-1374. View in PubMed
  5. Giroux Leprieur E, Tolani B, Li H, Leguay F, Hoang NT, Acevedo LA, Jin JQ, Tseng HH, Yue D, Kim IJ, Wislez M, Wang C, Jablons DM, He B. Membrane-bound full-length Sonic Hedgehog identifies cancer stem cells in human non-small cell lung cancer. Oncotarget. 2017 11 28; 8(61):103744-103757. View in PubMed
  6. 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 Dec 06; 7(49):80415-80425. View in PubMed
  7. 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
  8. 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 07; 35(14):1797-810. View in PubMed
  9. 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
  10. 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
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Please note: UCSF Profiles publications are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact CTSI for help.
  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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