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Athauda, Gagani

Title: Interim Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology; Course Director for Gastrointestinal and Pharmacology Courses

Office: GL 495E

Phone: 305-348-4649


Department(s): Cellular Biology and Pharmacology

Dr. Athauda, a native of Sri Lanka earned her medical degree from the Riga Stradiņš University, Riga, Latvia. Upon completion of her medical training, she embarked on a three-year Visiting Research Fellowship at the Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her research at the NIH focused on development of novel methods for diagnosing and monitoring the progression of cancer. Her work resulted in multiple peer-reviewed original scientific research articles but her most significant and enduring work led to the approval of four US patents and three related international patents. In 2006, Dr. Athauda was recruited by the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami (UM). At the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, she was a key member of the Clinical Trial Initiative team. Her significant contributions in developing a clinical grade cell therapy product consisting of Human Schwann Cells for transplantation into a spinal cord injury site resulted in approval of another US patent.

Dr. Athauda began to pursue a lifelong interest in becoming an educator when she joined the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) in 2011. At HWCOM, Dr. Athauda is involved in pharmacology education of medical students throughout the undergraduate medical school curriculum. She has been honored with multiple teaching awards including: “HWCOM Excellence in Teaching Award” (2015 and 2019), the “FIU Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching Award” (2015), the “Figure 1: Healthcare Educators Award” (2016), and the “ASPET Pharmacology Educator Travel Award” (2019). Dr. Athauda has been recognized for excellence in mentoring medical students and received the “HWCOM Mentor of the Year Student Choice Award” (2015). She has been recognized as one of the most distinguished faculty members and mentors and was selected by the students of graduating classes 2016-2019 as their Student Marshal for the Convocation ceremony. 

Dr. Athauda was inducted into Florida Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society honoring gifted teaching (2017). She has also been inducted into the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics’ (ASPET) Academy of Pharmacology Educators (2019) which recognized her as an individual who has made exemplary contributions to pharmacology education in the areas of student–teacher interaction, innovative contributions, scholarly endeavors, and professional development and service. In addition, she was inducted into the Herbert Wertheim Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honors Society which recognizes individuals who exemplify excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service (2018).

Dr. Athauda has published numerous peer-reviewed papers and presented her scholarly work at various national and international conferences. She is an executive committee member of the ASPET Division for Pharmacology Education (DPE) and has been elected to serve as the DPE Secretary/Treasurer for term 2020-2022. 

Patents and Invention Reports

1. Dalton D, Athauda G, Bunge M, Guest J, Levi A, Pearse D, Wood P.
U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 16/078537; Feb 21, 2019
Production of Schwann cells. 
2. Bottaro DP, Peach M, Nicklaus M, Burke TR Jr, Athauda G, Choyke S, Giubellino A, Tan N, Shi Z-D. 
US Patent No. 8,754,081; June 17, 2014
Related International Publication No. WO/124013.
Compositions and methods for inhibition of hepatocyte growth factor receptor c-Met signaling. 
3. Bottaro DP, Athauda G, Burgess TL. 
US Patent No. 8,617,831; December 31, 2013
Related International Publication No. WO/20130029352.
Methods for Diagnosing and Monitoring the Progression of Cancer by Measuring Soluble c-Met Ectodomain. 
4. Bottaro DP, Athauda G, Burgess TL. 
US Patent No. 8,304,199; November 6, 2012
Methods for Diagnosing and Monitoring the Progression of Cancer by Measuring Soluble c-Met Ectodomain.
5. Bottaro DP, Athauda G, Burgess TL. 
US Patent No. 7,964,365; June 21, 2011
Related International Publication No. WO/2007/056523.
Methods for Diagnosing and Monitoring the Progression of Cancer. 

Peer Reviewed Journal Publications 

1. Ottolenghi J, Athauda G, Stumbar SE, Kashan SB, Lupi C. Contraceptive pharmacology and risk communication: a case-based flipped classroom exercise. MedEdPORTAL. 2019;15:10790. 
2. Brooks AE, Athauda G, Bunge MB, Khan A. (2018) Culture and Expansion of Rodent and Porcine Schwann Cells for Preclinical Animal Studies. Methods Mol. Biol. 1739: 111-126.
3. Maas JA, Toonkel RL, Athauda G. (2018) Large Group Case-Based Learning (TB-CBL) Is an Effective Method for Teaching Cancer Chemotherapy to Medical Students. Medical Science Educator 28: 191-194.
4. Bastidas J, Athauda G, De La Cruz G, Chan WM, Golshani R, Berrocal Y, Henao M, Lalwani A, Mannoji C, Assi M, Otero PA, Khan A, Marcillo AE, Norenberg M, Levi AD, Wood PM, Guest JD, Dietrich WD, Bartlett Bunge M, Pearse DD. (2017) Human Schwann cells exhibit long-term cell survival, are not tumorigenic and promote repair when transplanted into the contused spinal cord. Glia. Aug; 65(8): 1278-1301. 
5. McNeil BK, Sorbellini M, Grubb RL3rd, Apolo A, Cecchi F, Athauda G, Cohen B, Giubellion A, Simpson H, Agarwal PK, Coleman J, Getzenberg RH, Netto GJ, Shih J, Linehan WM, Pinto PA, Bottaro DP. (2014) Preliminary evaluation of urinary soluble met as a biomarker for urothelial carcinoma of the bladder. J Transl Med. Oct 21: 12:199.
6. Petroianu GA, Athauda G, Darvas F, Kalasz H, Lorke D. (2014) K-Oxime (K-27): Phosphylation-Induced Changes in Logp. Mil. Med. Sci. Lett. (Voj. Zdrav. Listy) 83: 52-58.
7. Petroianu GA, Athauda G, Darvas F, Kalasz, H. (2013) Pralidoxime and Obidoxime: Phosphylation induced Changes in logP (partition coefficient). Journal of Environmental Immunology and Toxicology 1(1): 35-40.
8. Zhang C, Jia P, Huang X, Sferrazza GF, Athauda G, Achary MP, Wang J, Lemanski SL, Dube DK, Lemanski LF. (2009) Myofibril-inducing RNA (MIR) is essential for tropomyosin expression and myofibrillogenesis in axolotl hearts. J Biomed Sci. Sep 3; 16:81.
9. Peach ML, Tan N, Choyke SJ, Giubellino A, Athauda G, Burke TR Jr., Nicklaus MC, Bottaro DP. (2009) Directed discovery of agents targeting the Met tyrosine kinase domain by virtual screening. J Med Chem. 52(4):943-951.
10. Monje PV, Rendon S, Athauda G, Bates M, Wood PM, Bunge, MB. (2009) Non-antagonistic relationship between mitogenic factors and cAMP in adult Schwann cell re-differentiation. Glia. 57(9):947-961.
11. Giubellino A, Shi ZD, Jenkins LM, Worthy KM, Bindu LK, Athauda G, Peruzzi B, Fisher RJ, Appella E, Burke TR, Bottaro DP. (2008) Selectivity and mechanism of action of a growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 SRC homology 2 domain binding antagonist. J Med Chem. 51(23):7459-7468.
12. Monje PV, Athauda G, Wood PM. (2008) Protein kinase A-mediated gating of neuregulin-dependent ErbB2-ErbB3 activation underlies the synergistic action of cAMP on Schwann cell proliferation. J Biol Chem. 283(49):34087-34100.
13. Gess B, Halfter H, Kleffner I, Monje P, Athauda G, Wood PM, Young P, Wanner IB. (2008) Inhibition of N-cadherin and beta-catenin function reduces axon-induced Schwann cell proliferation. J. Neurosci Res. 86(4):797-812.
14. Zhang C, Pietras KM, Sferrazza GF, Jia P, Athauda G, Rueda-de-Leon E, Maier JA, Dube DK, Lemanski SL, Lemanski LF. (2008) Molecular and immunohistochemical analyses of cardiac troponin T during cardiac development in the Mexican axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum. J Cell Biochem. 100(1):1-15. Erratum in: J Cell Biochem 105(2):624.
15. Sferrazza GF, Zhang C, Jia P Lemanski, SL, Athauda G, Stassi A, Halager K, Maier JA, Rueda-de-Leon E, Gupta A, Dube S, Huang X, Prentice, HM, Dube DK, Lemanski LF. (2007) Role of myofibril-inducing RNA in cardiac TnT expression in developing Mexican axolotl. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 357(1):32-37.
16. Peruzzi B, Athauda G, Bottaro DP. (2006) The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene product represses oncogenic beta-catenin signaling in renal carcinoma cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 103(39):14531-14536.
17. Athauda G, Giubellino A, Coleman JA, Horak C, Steeg PS, Lee MJ, Trepel J, Wimberly J, Sun J, Coxon A, Burgess TL, Bottaro DP. (2006) c-Met ectodomain shedding rate correlates with malignant potential. Clin Cancer Res. 12(14 Pt 1):4154-4162.
18. Dharmawardana PG, Peruzzi B, Giubellino A, Burke TR Jr., Bottaro DP. (2006) Molecular targeting of growth factor receptor-bound 2 (Grb2) as an anti-cancer strategy. Anticancer Drugs. 17(1):13-20 Review.
19. Kang SU, Shi ZD, Worthy KM, Bindu LK, Dharmawardana PG, Choyke SJ, Bottaro DP, Fisher RJ, Burke TR Jr. (2005) Examination of phosphoryl-mimicking functionalities within a macrocyclic Grb2 SH2 domain-binding platform. J Med Chem. 48(12):3945-3948.
20. Shi ZD, Karki RG, Oishi S, Worthy KM, Bindu LK, Dharmawardana PG, Nicklaus MC, Bottaro DP, Fisher RJ, Burke TR Jr. (2005) Utilization of a nitrobenzoxadiazole (NBD) fluorophore in the design of a Grb2 SH2 domain-binding peptide mimetic. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 15(5):1385-1388.
21. Dharmawardana PG, Giubellino A, Bottaro DP. (2004) Hereditary papillary renal carcinoma type I. Curr Mol Med. 4(8):855-868 Review.
22. Hwang JJ, Dharmawardana PG, Uchio EM, Wynberg J, Phillips JL. (2003) Prostate cancer in Klinefelter syndrome during hormonal replacement therapy. Urology. 62(5):941.

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