Faculty Educator of the Month: February 2012
Dr. Rajyalakshmi Luthra
Rajyalakshmi Luthra, Ph.D., Director of both the Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Program and Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (MDL), Medical Advisor for the Molecular Genetic Technology Program in the School of Health Professions, and Professor in the Department of Hematopathology, has been named the February 2012 Faculty Educator of the Month.
In directing the Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Program, Dr. Luthra is instrumental in the educational development of trainees at MD Anderson. Specifically, she oversees and mentors fellows, pathology residents, and graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Health Professions. In addition, she serves as a supervisor for their research projects.
Dr. Luthra also is able to make significant educational contributions as Director of the MDL. In particular, she provides laboratory-based training in molecular diagnostics to fellows, residents, and School of Health Professions students; supervises visitors and observers; oversees fellows’ and visitors’ research projects; mentors junior faculty members; and directly supervises other research projects.
Currently, Dr. Luthra is very active in several training programs at MD Anderson, teaching in the Pathology, Hematopathology, Molecular Genetic Pathology, and Transplant Immunology fellowships. She also teaches in the Molecular Pathology and Molecular Genetic Pathology conferences and the Medical Genetics Program in the School of Health Professions and delivers genomics lectures to students in that school’s Molecular Genetic Technology Program.
Since 2004, Dr. Luthra has directly supervised fellows in the Molecular Genetic Pathology program. She has also supervised 13 Molecular Genetic Pathology fellows, 4 postdoctoral research fellows, and 1 graduate student. Furthermore, since 1993, she has supervised several visitors and rotators.
Outside of MD Anderson, Dr. Luthra has taught in the Pathology Residency Program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In addition, she has directly supervised graduate students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Pathology residents at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and eight Molecular Genetic Pathology fellows at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Luthra has participated in supervisory teaching in all three of these institutions, as well.
Dr. Luthra was honored for her educational efforts by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, receiving the Outstanding Clinical Instructor award in 2004 and 2006.
Dr. Luthra received her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1977. After completing a fellowship there in 1979, she came to Houston as a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Pharmacology at The University of Texas Health Science Center. In 1984, she was named a Research Scientist in the Department of Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine.
In 1987, Dr. Luthra came to MD Anderson when she was named a Research Associate, first in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and then in the Department of Pathology. She was appointed an Instructor in the Department of Pathology in 1992 and promoted to Assistant Professor in 1996 and Associate Professor in 2001. She was then named Associate Professor in the Department of Hematopathology in 2004 and promoted to Professor in 2007. Since 2004, Dr. Luthra also has been an Adjunct Professor in the Master’s Program for Molecular Pathology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Bachelor’s Program for Molecular Genetic Pathology at the MD Anderson School of Health Professions.
Dr. Luthra has been the Director of the Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Program since 2008, Medical Advisor for the Molecular Genetic Technology Program in the School of Health Professions since 2008, and Director of the MDL since its inception in 1990. She also serves on the faculty for the Transplant Immunology Director Fellowship Program at MD Anderson, Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Program at Baylor College of Medicine, and Molecular Pathology Resident Program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and she is the faculty advisor for the Molecular Genetic Technology Program at MD Anderson and the Molecular Pathology Program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Over the past decade, Dr. Luthra has been the principal investigator, a co-principal investigator, a co-investigator, or a collaborator for 30 funded research projects and protocols. She also holds three patents and one technology license. Her research is focused on the creation and use of diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive molecular assays for cancer management.
Dr. Luthra has been a reviewer for 11 journals over the past 12 years. She has documented her research extensively in more than 125 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, 2 invited articles, 2 book chapters, and numerous abstracts.