Pathways Summer 2019

Page 14




Going for the Goal Dr. Sumit Chanda takes a high-risk approach to science with an ambitious endgame: everything from cancer therapies to a cure for HIV. On Sunday mornings, Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., can usually be found on the soccer field, playing an informal pickup game with friends. “We just have fun,” he insists. He adds with a laugh, “My goal is not to get injured! If I don’t get injured, it’s a successful day.” That play-it-safe strategy, though, only applies on the soccer field. In his lab at Sanford Burnham Prebys, his approach is completely the opposite: Go big or go home. “In academic research, we should be more high risk, try to disrupt things,” says Chanda, a professor and director of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys. “You should be failing 95 percent of the time because you should be doing something that innovative and that risky.” Innovation is the hallmark of Chanda’s lab, and his goals are definitely big. Like a cure for HIV. An HIV vaccine. New, breakthrough cancer therapies. And they’re not just pipe dreams, either; he’s getting results.