Faculty Educator of the Month: April 2013

Joya Chandra, Ph.D.

Joya Chandra, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Division of Pediatrics and at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston (GSBS), has been named the April 2013 Faculty Educator of the Month.

Dr. Chandra’s educational activities have covered a wide spectrum, benefitting undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows, patients, and the general public. As a laboratory-based researcher and active member of the GSBS, Dr. Chandra trains students and fellows. Through participation in student advisory and examining committees and hosting of summer interns, she has impacted the training of nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate students. In 2012, she was reappointed to the GSBS with commendation. She serves on the Graduate Education Committee at MD Anderson, chairs the Academic Standards Subcommittee, and serves on the GSBS Membership Committee. Also, she is a member of the Cancer Biology Program and the Experimental Therapeutics Program, serving on the Executive Committee for the latter, and she chairs the Awards Committee. Under her supervision, students and fellows in her laboratory have excelled, receiving national recognition such as the National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, American Society of Hematology Scholar Awards, and American Association for Cancer Research awards.

Dr. Joya ChandraIn addition, Dr. Chandra has had a great deal of didactic experience at the GSBS. Currently, she is a lecturer for five GSBS courses: Mechanisms in Cancer Therapeutics, Cancer Cell Signaling, Cell Biology, Topics in Molecular Medicine, and Translational Sciences: From Bedside to Bench and Back. She also was a lecturer for the course Molecular Basis of Programmed Cell Death. Furthermore, Dr. Chandra has been a lecturer for two courses at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and one course each at the Mayo Graduate School and Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Chandra was honored for her educational efforts in 2012 with the John P. McGovern Outstanding Teacher Award. She is also a recipient of the Leukemia Specialized Program in Research Excellence Career Development Award (2004-2007), Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women's Club Award (2004), and Children's Oncology Group Young Investigator Award (2003-2004).

Perhaps her most unique contribution has come as the Director of the Optimizing Nutrition (ON) to Life Program at the Children’s Cancer Hospital. This program is a multidisciplinary effort designed to promote healthy dietary habits in pediatric cancer patients and survivors via education, behavioral science, and laboratory research. One product of the ON to Life Program is the @TheTable Cookbook, an online source of healthy recipes approved by MD Anderson nutritionists and subjected to taste testing by local individuals. This website contains search options designed for patients receiving treatment so that they may identify healthy food choices that are palatable and accommodate side effects of therapy. She is currently expanding educational efforts related to healthy diet to the general public using this cookbook by working with obese children in a regional pediatric practice.

Dr. Chandra received her Ph.D. degree in Cancer Biology and Immunology from the GSBS in 1998. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Apoptosis and Oxidative Stress in the Division of Toxicology, Institute for Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in 2000. During her fellowship, Dr. Chandra was a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Division of Toxicology. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Drug Development, Apoptosis, and Leukemia Therapy in the Division of Oncology Research at the Mayo Clinic (2002), where she was a Postdoctoral Research Assistant.

After her second fellowship, Dr. Chandra returned to Houston when she was named an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatrics and at the GSBS in 2002. She was promoted to her current position of Associate Professor at both institutions in 2008. Additionally, she was named Director of the ON to Life Program in 2009.

In addition to her research and educational responsibilities, Dr. Chandra serves on the MD Anderson Research Council, Margaret L. Kripke Legend Award Selection Committee, and Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. She also is a member of the Medical Advisory Board for the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation.

During her time at MD Anderson, Dr. Chandra has been quite active as a speaker or presenter, appearing at conferences and other meetings throughout the world. In addition, she has been the principal investigator, a co-investigator, or a mentor for 22 funded research projects as well as a collaborator for others. Dr. Chandra also has been a grant reviewer for several national and international study sections.

Dr. Chandra has served as a reviewer for 27 journals. Over the span of her career, she has authored more than 40 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, 9 invited articles, 4 book chapters, and many abstracts.

View complete list of awardees.