Nita Ahuja, MD

Pronounced: uh-hoo-jaa

William H Carmalt Professor of Surgery and Pathology
Chair, Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine
Surgeon-in-Chief, Yale New Haven Hospital
Chair, Yale Medicine Faculty Practice Plan Board

Dr. Nita Ahuja is a renowned surgeon-scientist, well known for her seminal research in translational epigenetics and oncology, and for her passionate advocacy for the development of physician-scientists and junior faculty. She is the first female William H. Carmalt Chair of
Surgery at Yale University School of Medicine, Chief of Surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital, and Boardwoman Chair of the Yale Medicine Family Practice Plan. Dr. Ahuja has a documented track record of leading large, multi-disciplinary teams in bench-to-bedside research.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine with more than 250 publications in highimpact journals, Dr. Ahuja’s NIH funded laboratory is focused on understanding the role of epigenetic dysregulation for the development of prognostic and diagnostic approaches to
multiple types of cancer. Her early-career research at Johns Hopkins University first identified the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) in cancer -a concept now recognized to have implications for prognosis as well as response to therapy in multiple cancers. Her NIH funded laboratory focuses on understanding the role of epigenetic regulation in cancer initiation and progression in solid tumors including colorectal and pancreas cancer. Dr. Ahuja’s research team was one of the first to identify the role of methylation biomarkers in early detection of cancers including colorectal, pancreas, breast and renal cancers using noninvasive strategies.

She is currently developing a high-sensitivity, bedside blood test that screens for specific DNA markers for early-stage pancreas cancer along with high-risk preneoplastic lesions.

Dr. Ahuja has also been involved in some of the key clinical trials using combinatorial epigenetic agents as part of Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team since 2008. In particular, her laboratory has done seminal work in the role of epigenetic drugs as priming agents for reversing chemoresistance as well as immunomodulatory agents. These preclinical studies have led to national and multinational trials in colorectal, hepatobiliary, and other solid tumors.

Dr. Ahuja has served in several clinical and administrative leadership positions throughout her career, including Vice Chair of Research, Division Chief of Surgical Oncology, and Associate Director of Surgical Oncology of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is the Chair of The Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS) for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and serves on the AAMC Board of Directors as a champion of diversity in academic medicine.