Swarnali Acharyya, PhD

Profile Headshot


Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Pathology & Cell Biology in the Institute of Cancer Genetics

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • PhD, 2007 Integrated Biomedical Science, Ohio State University

Honors & Awards

2019 - Pershing Square Sohn Prize
2019 - The Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award
2019 - Schaefer Research Scholar Award
2018 - Irving Scholar Award
2017 - Department of Defense Lung Cancer Program
2017 - Susan G. Komen Career Catalyst Award
2016 - American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award
2016 - Department of Defense Breast Cancer Breakthrough Award
2016 - Columbia University Provost's Grant for Junior faculty for promoting diversity
2016 - HICCC Interprogrammatic Pilot grant
2015 - Avon Products Foundation Assistant Professorship in Breast Cancer research
2014 - METAvivor Research grant for metastatic breast cancer research
2013 - Ed Leonard Prize for Chemokine Research, International Cytokine and Interferon Society (ICIS)
2013 - NIH Pathway to Independence K99 award, NCI
2013 - Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
2012 - Travel Award to Herrenhausen Symposium on Metastasis, Seeon, Germany
2008 - Breast Cancer Era of Hope- postdoctoral fellowship, US Department of Defense
2006 - Presidential Dissertation Fellowship, The Ohio State University, USA
2006 - First Place Award, Graduate Student Research, 5th Annual Graduate and Post-Graduate Research Day in Biomedical Science, Columbus, OH, USA
2006 - Best Poster Award in Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics, 8th Annual OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center Scientific Meeting, Columbus, OH, USA
2005 - First Place Basic Science research Award, 3rd International Cachexia Conference, Rome, Italy


The broad focus of our laboratory is exploring mechanisms of drug resistance and cancer metastasis. These are two major challenges that significantly limit anti-cancer therapy and claim millions of lives worldwide. Metastasis originates from the Greek word meaning “change of place” and is the process by which cancer cells spread from their original site of origin to other parts of the body. Even if the primary tumor is diagnosed early, surgically removed or treated, cancer cells can remain in the body often culminating in aggressive metastatic disease, sometimes even after decades. Patients with metastatic disease often show poor response to conventional therapies and succumb to death. The goal of our laboratory is to identify new mediators of metastasis and to develop strategies to sensitize these metastases to more effective therapies. We utilize a combination of genetically engineered and xenograft mouse models to understand the process of metastasis. We actively collaborate with clinical investigators to model the development and treatment of metastatic disease in preclinical models (see Figure B) and to validate our findings in patient-derived clinical samples. We are particularly interested in investigating the tumor-microenvironment interactions that promote the growth and survival of metastasis and those that dictate therapeutic response. Our primary focus lies on two types of solid tumors - metastatic breast cancer and lung cancer.

Selected Publications

  • Wang G, Biswas AK, Ma W, Kandpal M, Coker C, Grandgenett PM, Hollingsworth MA, Jain R, Tanji K, LÏŒpez-Pintado S, Borczuk A, Hebert D, Jenkitkasemwong S, Hojyo S, Davuluri RV, Knutson MD, Fukada T, Acharyya S. Metastatic cancers promote cachexia through ZIP14 upregulation in skeletal muscle. Nat Med. 2018 Jun;24(6):770-781. doi: 10.1038/s41591-018-0054-2.
  • Consul N, Guo X, Coker C, Lopez-Pintado S, Hibshoosh H, Zhao B, Kalinsky K, Acharyya S. Monitoring Metastasis and Cachexia in a Patient with Breast Cancer: A Case Study. Clin Med Insights Oncol. 2016 Sep 11;10:83-94.
  • Shiono M, Huang K, Downey RJ, Consul N, Villanueva N, Beck K, Fenn K, Dietz D, Yamaguchi T, Kato S, Divgi C, Kalinsky K, Wei Y, Zhang Y, Borczuk AC, Inoue A, Halmos B, Acharyya S. An analysis of the relationship between metastases and cachexia in lung cancer patients. Cancer Med. 2016 Aug 3. doi: 10.1002/cam4.841.
  • Acharyya S, Massague J. Arresting supporters: targeting neutrophils in metastasis. Cell Res. 2016 Mar;26(3):273-4. doi: 10.1038/cr.2016.17.
  • Acharyya S, Oskarsson T, Vanharanta S, Malladi S, Kim J, Morris PG, Manova-Todorova K, Leversha M, Hogg N, Seshan VE, Norton L, Brogi E and Massague J, A CXCL1 paracrine network links cancer chemoresistance and metastasis. Cell, 150(1), 165-178(2012). PMID 22770218
  • Oskarsson T, Acharyya S, Zhang XHF, Vanharanta S, Tavazoie SF, Morris PG, Downey RJ, Manova-Todorova K, Brogi E and Massague J. Breast cancer cells produce tenascin-C as a metastatic niche component to colonize the lungs. Nature Medicine, 17, 867-74 (2011). PMID 21706029
  • Acharyya S, Sharma SM, Cheng A, Ladner KJ, Wang H, He W, Ostrowski M, Huang TMH, Guttridge DC. TNF inhibits Notch-1 in skeletal muscle by Ezh2 and DNA methylation mediated repression: implications in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. PLoS One 5(8): e12479 (2010). PMID 20814569
  • Kim MY, Oskarsson T, Acharyya S, Nguyen DX, Zhang XH, Norton L and Massague J. Tumor self-seeding by circulating cancer cells. Cell, 24: 139(7):1315-26 (2009) PMID 20064377
  • Damrauer J*, Stadler ME*, Acharyya S*, Baldwin AS, Couch ME and Guttridge DC. Chemotherapy-induced muscle wasting: association with NF-kB and cancer cachexia. Basic Applied Myology. 18(5):139-148 (2008) *Contributed equally.
  • Gupta GP, Perk J, Acharyya S, de Candia P, Mittal V, Todorova-Manova K, Gerald WL, Brogi E, Benezra R and Massagué J. ID genes mediate tumor re-initiation during breast cancer metastasis. PNAS 104(49):19506-11 (2007) PMID 18048329
  • Acharyya S and Guttridge DC. Cancer Cachexia Signaling pathways continue to emerge yet much still points to the proteasome. Clin Cancer Res. Mar 1;13(5):1356-61. (2007). PMID 17332276
  • Acharyya S, Villalta SA, Bakkar N, Bupha-Intr T, Janssen PML, Carathers M, Karin M, Li ZW, Beg A, Ghosh S, Sahenk Z, Weinstein M, Gardner KL, Rafael-Fortney JA, Tidball JG, Baldwin AS and Guttridge DC. IKK/NF-kB Signaling Interplay in Macrophages and Myofibers Promotes Muscle Wasting in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. J Clin Invest, 117(4): 889-901. (2007). PMID 17380205
  • Acharyya S, Butchbach ME, Sahenk Z, Wang H, Saji M, Carathers M, Ringel MD, Skipworth RJ, Fearon KC, Hollingsworth MA, Muscarella P, Burghes AH, Rafael-Fortney JA, Guttridge DC. Dystrophin glycoprotein complex dysfunction: a regulatory link between muscular dystrophy and cancer cachexia. Cancer Cell, 8(5): 421-32 (2005). PMID 16286249
  • Acharyya S, Ladner KJ, Nelsen LL, Damrauer J, Reiser PJ, Swoap S and Guttridge DC. Cancer cachexia is regulated by selective targeting of skeletal muscle gene products. J Clin Invest, 114(3): 370-8 (2004). PMID 15286803