UMass Boston

Faculty & Staff Directory

Shailja Pathania

Title: Associate Professor

Phone: 617.287.6398


Department: Biology

Areas of Expertise

Cancer Biology, Breast and Ovarian Cancer, DNA Repair , Transcriptomics


PhD, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
MS, Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, India
BS, Chemistry, Miranda House, Delhi University, India

Professional Publications & Contributions

Research Interests

The primary research interest of Shailja Pathania's laboratory is to understand 1) how and when normal, presumably healthy cells become tumor cells, and 2) how can we leverage these mechanistic insights to design better preventive and therapeutic treatment strategies. We are addressing these questions in the setting of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer by studying genes like BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, Rad51C and others. Women with mutations in hereditary cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are highly predisposed to breast cancer (lifetime risk 50-80%), ovarian cancer (lifetime risk 15-40%), and men with mutations in BRCA2 are predisposed to pancreatic, and prostate cancer. How a normal, presumably healthy cell in these mutation carriers transforms into a tumor cell is largely unknown.

Our ongoing projects aim to give us a better understanding of the different functions of these cancer predisposing genes, with special focus on DNA damage repair function, given that it is the most commonly disrupted function in the tumor cells of the mutation carriers. We are addressing these questions in primary cells derived from patient tissues, as well as in transgenic mouse models.

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Dr. David Livingston’s lab at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.


  • Endowed Faculty Career Development Award, University of Massachusetts Boston (2019).
  • Recipient of the 2013 Susan G. Komen for the Cure Career Catalyst Research Grant.
  • Recipient of James P. Allison Fellowship for Research at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation Award at the University of Texas at Austin.