Explore This Lab

About the Lab

The Laboratory of Uma Sachdeva, MD, PhD, in the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital uses 3D culture models of human and mouse-derived cells to study the pathogenesis of esophageal cancer, with a focus on the role of the esophageal microenvironment in early-stage disease. We are a dynamic group of scientists and scientists-in-training from diverse backgrounds, with projects encompassing the fields of cancer cell biology, 3D epithelial organoid biology, cell metabolism and tumor-stromal interactions. Our goal is to gain better understanding of the molecular changes that accompany the development and progression of esophageal cancer, the eighth most common cancer worldwide and sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.

We welcome highly motivated trainees of all levels, including postdoctoral fellows, medical or surgical residents, and students, to contact us if interested in joining our growing team.

Research Projects

There are two main types of esophageal cancer:

  1. Squamous cell cancer (ESCC) is the more common histology in Asia and Africa, with known risk factors including several forms of toxin exposure, such as alcohol, tobacco, nitrosamines and lye
  2. Adenocarcinoma (EAC) is the predominant histology in Western countries, with risk factors including obesity, gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett’s metaplasia. While EAC shares genetic similarity with the subtype of gastric cancer characterized by chromosomal instability, the molecular mechanisms by which Barrett’s esophagus develops into dysplasia or cancer remain unknown
Our experiments use 3D organoid cultures (here, shown embedded in Matrigel) to study tumor biology and microenvironment interactions in esophageal cancer.

Using 3D organoids derived from patient samples (PDOs) or esophageal cancer cell lines, the Sachdeva Lab is studying the responses of esophageal epithelial and stromal cells to metabolic stress, and the way in which these stress response pathways contribute to malignant transformation.

Basic and translational projects in the lab focus on the following key areas:

  1. Investigating metabolic shifts in esophageal non-transformed epithelial and cancer cells in response to acid- and bile-induced stresses
  2. Determining the role of stromal-derived cytokines in promoting early esophageal cancer development
  3. Developing PDO libraries from normal esophageal epithelium, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma from primary patient biopsy samples
Selected Publications

Meet the Team

Uma Sachdeva, MD, PhD

Uma Sachdeva, MD, PhD

Uma Sachdeva, MD, PhD, is a thoracic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. She received her MD and PhD in cell and molecular biology through the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pennsylvania, after completing an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Harvard College. She is a graduate of the MGH General Surgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery training programs. She practices all aspects of thoracic surgery, with a specific interest in thoracic oncology, including esophageal and lung cancers. She also leads a lab-based research effort studying the molecular pathways that underlie development of esophageal cancer and its precursor lesions, including Barrett’s esophagus. She is the recipient of the 2nd David C. Sabiston Research Scholarship from the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and the 2021 Research Scholarship from the Thoracic Surgery Foundation.

Lab Members

Pavithra Rajagopalan, PhD

Pavithra Rajagopalan, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Aya Tal-mason, BA

Aya Tal-mason, BA
Research Technician

Samuel Roytburd

Samuel Roytburd
BA/MD Student, Boston University