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

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

  • Assistant Professor of Surgery
  • Division of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery

Contact Information

[email protected]
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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.

  Confired By    
  • 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.

    Data provided by UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI
    • Pancreatic Cancer and Autophagy
      Sponsor ID:
      Funding Period:
      Jul 2019
      Jun 2020
      Principal Investigator
    • Autophagy Inhibition as a Therapeutic Strategy in Pancreatic Cancers
      Sponsor ID:
      Funding Period:
      Jul 2019
      Jan 0001
      Principal Investigator
    Data provided by UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI
    1. Tolani B, Celli A, Yao Y, Tan YZ, Fetter R, Liem CR, de Smith AJ, Vasanthakumar T, Bisignano P, Cotton AD, Seiple IB, Rubinstein JL, Jost M, Weissman JS. Ras-mutant cancers are sensitive to small molecule inhibition of V-type ATPases in mice. Nat Biotechnol. 2022 12; 40(12):1834-1844. View in PubMed
    2. Marsh T, Tolani B, Debnath J. The pleiotropic functions of autophagy in metastasis. J Cell Sci. 2021 01 22; 134(2). View in PubMed
    3. Marsh T, Tolani B, Debnath J. The pleiotropic functions of autophagy in metastasis. J Cell Sci. 2021 01 15; 134(2). View in PubMed
    4. Blay V, Tolani B, Ho SP, Arkin MR. High-Throughput Screening: today's biochemical and cell-based approaches. Drug Discov Today. 2020 10; 25(10):1807-1821. View in PubMed
    5. Jiang L, Tolani B, Yeh CC, Fan Y, Reza JA, Horvai AE, Xia E, Kratz JR, Jablons DM, Mann MJ. Differential gene expression identifies KRT7 and MUC1 as potential metastasis-specific targets in sarcoma. Cancer Manag Res. 2019; 11:8209-8218. View in PubMed
    6. View All Publications
    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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