Sanjeevani Arora, PhD

Sanjeevani Arora, PhD

Research Program


Research Motivation

I am passionate about advancing personalized medicine initiatives to impact early diagnosis and cancer treatment. My focus, prompted by my early experiences working in a clinical diagnostic laboratory, has been on early detection and improving treatment response. With this aim I have been conducting research in identifying novel genetic risk factors that could be relevant to cancer risk assessment, biomarker development and potentially optimization of personalized treatment. I am investigating the molecular circuits that govern DNA damage response and how changes in these can contribute to cancer. I am also interested in applying these findings to predict response to cancer therapy.

Education and Training

Educational Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, 2017
  • PhD, University of Toledo - Health Science Campus, Toledo, OH, 2012
  • MS, CMR Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore University, Bangalore, India, 2006
  • BS, Garden City College, Bangalore University, Bangalore, Karnataka, 2004


  • AACR Integrative Molecular Epidemiology: Bridging Cancer Biology and Precision Medicine, July 2017
  • ACMG Genomics Case Conference: "Solving the Unresolved: A systematic approach to WES Negative Patients in the Undiagnosed Diseases Network"


  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Member
  • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), Member
  • American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), Member
  • Association of Women in Science (AWIS), Member
  • European Association for Cancer Research (EACR), Member
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center, Co-Founder and Leader, "Women in Science" group
  • DNA Repair and Genome Stability working group (FCCC), Founder and organizer
  • Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), Mentoring Program Director, “Represent Manager” -Women in Science
  • Journal of Biochemical Technology, Authors Advisory Board
  • World Association of Young Scientists, Member
  • 13th Annual Midwest DNA Repair Symposium, UT-HSC, Organizing Member and Host

Honors & Awards

  • FY17 Peer Reviewed  Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) Career Development Award, 2018
  • NCI T32 training fellowship, 2016
  • Travel award for presenting at “ACMG Annual Clinical Genetics meeting” in Salt Lake City, UT, Fox Chase Cancer Center Postdoctoral program, 2015
  •  1st place- Oral presentation, 19th Annual Postdoctoral Day, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 2014
  •  "Board of Directors" Postdoctoral Fellowship, Fox Chase Cancer Center 2013


See Dr. Arora's profile on LinkedIn      Twitter: @sanjeevaniarora

Research Profile

Research Program

Research Interests

Cancer genetic studies to improve screening, early detection and treatment

  • Mechanisms underlying genetically undefined hereditary cancers
  • Predictive biomarkers for response to chemoradiation therapy
  • Novel strategies to screen for individuals at high-risk for cancer

Lab Overview

My laboratory seeks to understand how innate differences (such as germline variants) in DNA replication and/or repair impact two critical areas in precision oncology: (1) what underlies an individual’s cancer risk, and (2) how an individual will respond to cancer treatment. Currently my work focuses on colorectal and renal tumors, but results from my work are applicable to multiple tumor types.

In the area of cancer risk prediction, we seek to identify and functionally assess novel or rare ‘risk’ germline variants in the population. Knowing which germline variants confer risk and which don’t is important because physicians don’t know how to act upon the massive number of variants of uncertain significance that have been identified by sequencing studies. We currently are evaluating variants in replicative DNA polymerases, POLE and POLD1, as these are known to cause mutagenesis, genetic instability and cancer (such as colorectal, endometrial).

Our approach to solving the ‘too many uncertain variants’ problem is based on a novel hypothesis, that germline POLE and POLD1 variants that are dysfunctional in the tumor also have a detectable dysfunctional signature in the germline. We are leveraging big data of tumor and germline to build a Germline Signature, which can be adopted into clinical practice to guide risk prediction and allow for application of cancer prevention strategies (e.g., lifestyle interventions) or early detection (e.g. by improving cancer screening panels). Collaborating with clinical partners, we plan to improve and validate this tool in prospective studies. Longer term, we plan to use the Germline Signature to build risk prediction models.

In the area of individual response to cancer treatment, we are integrating germline variation data with biological assessment of innate capacity to repair DNA damage to develop a ‘signature’ that predicts the magnitude of benefit from chemoradiation therapy. My approach is particularly novel because tumor-specific signatures have been sought but no biomarker has ever been established; this may be because prior studies did not evaluate innate factors. This work will deliver preclinical evidence that could allow for precision stratification of patients to therapies.

Currently, my two research directions are relatively separate. But I envision they will eventually meet. By pursuing both it may be possible to identify specific innate factors that influence both risk and response to treatment. Results may elucidate mechanisms common to many cancers and/or underlying predisposition to a certain tumor type.

Extramural Affiliations

  • Adjunct, Department of Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University
  • Adjunct, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Drexel University School of Medicine
Lab Staff

Elena Demidova, MS

Graduate Student

Room: P2149

Waleed Iqbal, MS

Graduate Student, School of Biomedical Engineering Science and Health Systems, Drexel University.

Room: P2149

Amanda Browne, BS

Scientific Technician I

Room: P2149

Additional Staff

Former Personnel:

Jessica Mauricette, University of Delaware-FCCC Summer Fellow 2019
Current: Undergraduate student, University of Delaware

Randy Lesh, Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Fellow 2019
Current: Medical student, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Mercedes Davis, Drexel University Undergraduate Co-op
Current: Continuing undergraduate studies, Drexel University

Amanda Browne, NCI CURE Program Fellow
Current: Scientific Technician I, Arora Lab 

Waleed Iqbal, Master’s thesis, Drexel University School of Medicine
Current: PhD candidate, School of Biomedical Engineering Science & Health Systems, Drexel University
Co-Advisors: Sanjeevani Arora, PhD and Gail Rosen, PhD (Associate Professor, Drexel University College of Engineering) 


Nina Shah, Summer Research Volunteer
Current: Continuing undergraduate studies, Haverford College


Selected Publications

Nicolas E., Demidova E.V., Iqbal W., Serebriiskii I.G., Vlasenkova R., Ghatalia P., Zhou Y., Rainey K., Forman A.F., Dunbrack R.L., Jr., Golemis E.A., Hall M.J., Daly M.B., Arora S., Interaction of germline variants in a family with a history of early-onset clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Mol Genet Genomic Med. 7(3): e556, 2019. PMC6418363. 9.924

Serebriiskii I.G., Connelly C., Frampton G., Newberg J., Cooke M., Miller V., Ali S., Ross J.S., Handorf E., Arora S., Lieu C., Golemis E.A., Meyer J.E., Comprehensive characterization of ras mutations in colon and rectal cancers in old and young patients. Nat Commun. 10(1): 3722, 2019. PMC6700103. 11.878

Arora S., Heyza J.R., Chalfin E.C., Ruch R.J. ,Patrick S.M., Gap junction intercellular communication positively regulates cisplatin toxicity by inducing DNA damage through bystander signaling. Cancers (Basel). 10(10)2018. PMC6210410. 6.162

Arora S., Huwe P.J., Sikder R., Shah M., Browne A.J., Lesh R., Nicolas E., Deshpande S., Hall M.J., Dunbrack R.L., Jr., Golemis E.A., Functional analysis of rare variants in mismatch repair proteins augments results from computation-based predictive methods. Cancer Biol Ther. 18(7): 519-533, 2017. PMC5639829. 2.879


Nicolas E, Golemis EA, Arora S*. POLD1: Central mediator of DNA replication and repair, and implication in cancer and other pathologies. Gene 590:128-41, 2016. Pubmed PMID: 27320729 *corresponding.

Nicolas E, Arora S, Zhou Y, Serebriiskii IG, Andrake MD, Handorf E, Bodia DL, Vockley JG, Dunbrack RL, Ross EA, Hall MJ, Golemis EA, Giri VN, and Daly MB.  Systematic evaluation of underlying defects in DNA repair as an approach to case-only assessment of familial prostate cancer. Oncotarget 6:39614-33, 2015, PubMed PMID: 26485759. PMCID: 4741850

Arora S, Yan H, Cho I, Fan HY, Luo B, Gai X, Bodian DL, Vockley JG, Zhou Y, Handorf E, Egleston BL, Andrake M, Nicolas E, Serebriiskii I, Yen TJ, Hall MJ, Golemis EA, Enders GH. Genetic Variants That Predispose to DNA Double-strand Breaks in Lymphocytes from a Subset of Patients With Familial Colorectal Carcinomas. Gastroenterology 149:1872-1883, 2015. PMID: 26344056; PMCID: PMC4663158.

Arora S, Kothandapani A, Tillison K, Kalman-Maltese V, Patrick SM. Downregulation of XPF-ERCC1 enhances cisplatin efficacy in cancer cells. DNA Repair (Amst). 2010 Jul 1;9(7):745-53. PubMed PMID: 20418188; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4331052

Additional Publications


This Fox Chase professor participates in the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship
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