BUFI - IISc Seed Fund for Collaboration Project

A collaborative project between Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc) & Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), Boston, MA, USA

In 2016, Boston University Foundation - India (BUFI) provided a seed grant of INR 13 lakhs (~USD 20,000) to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) Bangalore to support a collaborative research project between IISc. and Boston University School of Medicine, titled Breast Cancer Risk among Lean Women with Type 2 Diabetes in India.

The collaboration between IISc. in Bangalore and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) in Boston, was a direct result of the US National Cancer Institute having identified scientific partnerships with India as a strategic priority. BUSM professor Gerald Denis was one of the first investigators invited to travel to India in 2014 as part of a US delegation to develop new 'Provocative Questions' for research. His interest is in the dramatic increase in Type 2 diabetes and breast cancer occuring in Indian women, and believe his team may have some insights into the mechanisms. He is collaborating on a clinical study with Professor Annapoorni Rangarajan with recruited subjects in Bangalore.

The BUFI grant proved crucial in providing seed fund for face-to-face meetings of the Principle Investigators both in India and the US, as well as training of a junior scientist from the Rangarajan Lab at BU. One of the aspects of the research is to compare populations in both the countries to assess the risk associated with lean diabetics getting cancer at later stages. Yet another objective is to identify element which may be responsible for generating breast cancer in lean-diabetic patients.

The project duration was 18 months and it's conclusion in December 2017 has led to the creation of a unique database for clinical and research information across the US and Indian populations. In addition, a jointly authored review article for the Journal of Leukocyte Biology that includes members of both the IISc. and BU laboratories was published in April 2018.

The research work is significant because in longer run it may also lead to better prognosis and disease management protocols for breast cancer patients. These protocols could be adopted by hospitals. This could also lead to developing indigenous ways in which such patients are treated in India.