• Portrait of Versha Banerji.
  • Associate professor 

    Max Rady College of Medicine
    Internal Medicine
    ON5015 - 675 McDermot Avenue
    CancerCare Manitoba
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 0V9

    Phone: 204-787-1884  
    versha.banerji@umanitoba.ca

Research themes

  • Leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Research interests

As a clinical scientist, Dr. Banerji’s goal is to bring effective and tolerable treatments to patients with blood cancers. HIs research program aims to target dependency on metabolism in cancer. Many novel agents are being developed and combined with excellent efficacy but challenges with tolerability. In addition, novel agents are entering clinical practice and we are now seeing resistance arise in the most effective treatments. Many of the resistance patterns are secondary to increases oxidative phosphorylation as the survival mechanism of these cells. His program focuses on the evaluation of small molecules or approved compounds on mitochondrial metabolism in cancer cells using primary cells or cell lines models using a suspension-based method to evaluation oxygen consumption. With this platform, he aims to identify candidates compounds to move from pre-clinical to in vivo testing. His group designs combination therapies and evaluates dose reduction strategies in vitro and ex vivo.

Research affiliations

CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute

Research summary

Dr. Banerji’s training involved the use of next-generation sequencing technology to identify structural abnormalities, or mutations in the DNA of cancer cells, and understanding the consequences of these mutations to cancer cell growth using high-throughput functional screens. He has applied these novel technologies to a variety of malignancies including breast cancer, lung cancer, and sarcoma.
 

Biography

Dr. Versha Banerji is an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Manitoba. She is also an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Winnipeg.

She is currently one of the senior investigators for the chronic lymphocytic leukemia research team in CancerCare Manitoba’s Research Institute of Cell Biology. She is also a senior scientist at the Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology, conducting research primarily in hematologic malignancies.

Dr. Banerji has received grant support from a total of 12 local, provincial and federal agencies, totaling to 2.8 million Canadian dollars in funding.

With over 50 peer reviewed publications consisting of original research, editorials, chapters, and abstracts, her work was published in many high impact journals including The Lancet, Blood Journal, Blood Advances, Leukemia, British Journal of Hematology, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention, International Journal of Cancer, Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Her main goals are bringing the most effective and safest therapies to patients by evaluating the role of metabolism in in cancer using mitochondrial respiration as a biomarker for disease and response to therapy.

Education

Dr. Versha Banerji graduated from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor of science in 1997, completed a pre-masters in physiology in 1998 and an MD in 2002. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Manitoba from 2002-2005. She then completed her clinical fellowship specializing in hematology at the University of Manitoba from 2005-2007. Subsequently, she completed a research fellowship focusing in acute myeloid leukemia gene expression-based drug discovery and target validation in pediatric oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/ Harvard Cancer Centre and the Broad Institute of MIT located in Boston, Massachusetts from 2007-2011.

Awards

  • Honor - WXN TOP 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada - Selected by the University of Manitoba as 1/3 women in the category (2020)
  • The Winnipeg Foundation’s Martha Donovan Leadership Award - University of Manitoba - $11,000 CAD (January 2020-January 2025)
  • ATOMWISE COMPOUND LIBRARY (September 2019)
  • Lady Tata Memorial Trust- International Leukemia Research Award - £35,000 GBP (August 2014-September 2015)
  • Richard Hoeschen Award - The University of Manitoba - $4,000 CAD (May 2014-May 2016)
  • NCIC-TFF Post MD Research Fellowship - Research discipline: Hematology, and Area of research: Metabolism - National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) - $150,000 CAD (July 2009-June 2011)

Contact us

Internal Medicine
Room GC430, Health Sciences Centre
820 Sherbrook Street
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3A 1R9 Canada

204-787-7772
204-787-4826