Saurabh Agarwal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Pharmaceutical Sciences
Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of LucknowM.S., Biochemistry, Jiwaji University

Dr. Saurabh Agarwal joined St. John’s University in Fall 2018 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences within the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Prior to joining St. John’s, Dr. Agarwal served as an Instructor Faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston (2015-2018). Dr. Agarwal earned his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from University of Lucknow, and M.S. in Biochemistry from Jiwaji University in India. Based on his doctoral research, Dr. Agarwal received French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) Fellowship, and performed postdoctoral research at INSERM, Paris (2009-2010) on immunotherapy and cancer. Further, Dr. Agarwal completed another postdoctoral fellowship at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston (2011-2015), where he discovered a new cancer stem cell sub-population in neuroblastoma.  

Dr. Agarwal published numerous high-impact and highly cited research publications, including publications in Nature Medicine, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Cancer Research, and Cancer Letters. Dr. Agarwal received numerous awards, recognitions, and philanthropy grants for his research including the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar Career Development Award, David’s Warriors Hero Award, Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer Award, Villa Joep Foundation Research Excellence Award, and St. John’s University Venture Capital Fund Award, to name a few. Dr. Agarwal also serve as an Editorial Board Member for Journal of Brain Tumors & Neuro-oncology, and for Hematology and Blood Disorders. He also actively participates as reviewer for more than 20 high-impact research Journals.   
                    
Dr. Agarwal have active collaborations and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, and at Texas Children’s Cancer Center at Houston. He regularly participates and actively contribute in Institution’s education and research mission. Dr. Agarwal’s scholastic activities also include his regular participation and presentations in different local, national, and international conferences. Dr. Agarwal is an active member of American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association (ANRA), and American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). Dr. Agarwal also participate in Research Fundraising events as guest speaker, and his research work is covered by different medical research media news.

  • St. John’s University Venture Capital Fund Award, 2019
  • St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar Career Development Award, 2017
  • Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer Foundation Research Award, 2017

Dr. Agarwal’s current research focuses on deciphering the biological and epigenetic mechanisms in pediatric cancer neuroblastoma. His main research interest is to develop effective targeted therapeutic approaches for neuroblastoma and for other cancers. Dr. Agarwal and his team discovered a novel cancer stem cell sub-population in neuroblastoma tumors and found that these cancer stem cells are responsible for cancer initiation, metastasis, drug-resistance, and relapse. He recently identified the role of cytokine G-CSF in enhancing tumorigenicity, metastasis, and relapse in neuroblastoma. His research leads to a major clinical trial for accessing safety of G-CSF use in neuroblastoma patients. 
Currently Dr. Agarwal’s laboratory is developing effective therapeutic approaches to target cancer stem cells by identifying molecular and epigenetic factors responsible for maintaining these cells. 
He established a cancer research laboratory at St. John’s and his research is well funded by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Wipe Out Kids Cancer Foundation, and by the St. John’s University.

*Interested students who would like to know more about Dr. Agarwal’s research and available opportunities in his lab should contact him directly by email.

  • Li H, Yu Y, Zhao Y, Wu D, Yu X, Lu J, Chen Z, Zhang H, Hu Y, Zhai Y, Su J, Aheman A, De Las Casas A, Jin J, Xu X, Shi Z, Woodfield SE, Vasudevan SA, Agarwal S, Yan Y, Yang J, Foster JH (2019) Small molecule inhibitor agerafenib effectively suppresses neuroblastoma tumor growth in mouse models via inhibiting ERK MAPK signaling. Cancer Letters. 2019 May 14. pii: S0304-3835(19)30294-0.
  • Agarwal S, Milazzo G, Rajapakshe K, Bernardi R, Chen Z, Vasudevan S, Perini G, Coarfa C, Shohet J. (2018) MYCN acts as a direct co-regulator of p53 in MYCN amplified neuroblastoma. Oncotarget, DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.24859.
  • Yang A, Agarwal S* (2018) Role of G-CSF and G-CSFR in cancer development. Journal of Tumor Research and Report. (Editorial) 
  • Guan S, Lu J, Zhao Y, Yu Y, Li H, Chen Z, Shi Z, Liang H, Wang M, Guo K, Chen X, Sun W, Xu X, Agarwal S*, Yang J (2017) MELK is a MYCN/MYC transcriptional target and is required for the cell proliferation of neuroblastoma. Oncotarget, DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.23515.
  • Tomolonis J, Agarwal S, Shohet J (2017) Neuroblastoma pathogenesis: deregulation of embryonic neural crest development. Cell and Tissue Research, DOI:10.1007/s00441-017-2747-0
  • Sun W, Rojas Y, Wang H, Yu Y, Wang Y, Chen Z Xu X, Huang W, Agarwal S, Patel R, Woodfield S, Jin J, Zhang H, Major A, Hicks J, Shohet J, Vasudevan S, Coarfa C, Yang J, Nuchtern J. (2017) EWS-FLI1 and RNA helicase A interaction inhibitor YK-4-279 inhibits growth of neuroblastoma. Oncotarget. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.21933
  • Agarwal S, Ghosh R, Chen Z, Lakoma A, Gunaratne P, Kim E, Shohet J (2016) Transmembrane adaptor protein PAG1 is a novel tumor suppressor in neuroblastoma. Oncotarget DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.8116. PMID: 26993602.
  • Ghaghada K, Starosolski Z, Lakoma A, Kaffes C, Agarwal S, Athreya K, Shohet J, Kim E, Annapragada A (2016) Heterogeneous uptake of nanoparticles in mouse models of pediatric high-risk neuroblastoma. PLoS One 11(11):e0165877. PMID: 27861510; PMCID: PMC5115667. 
  • Zhang S, Wei J, Li S, Badgett T, Song Y, Agarwal S, Coarfa C, Tolman C, Hurd L, Liao H, He J, Wen X, Liu Z, Thiele CJ, Westermann F, Asgharzadeh S, Seeger RC, Maris JM, Guidry Auvil JM, Smith MA, Kolaczyk ED, Shohet J, Khan J (2016) MYCN controls an alternative RNA splicing program in high-risk metastatic neuroblastoma. Cancer Letters 371(2): 214-224. PMID: 26683771; PMCID: PMC4738031. 
  • Jha S, Agarwal S, Sanyal I, Amla DV. (2016) Single-Step Purification and Characterization of a Recombinant Serine Proteinase Inhibitor. Applied Biochemistry & Biotechnology 179(2): 220-36. PMID: 26852026.
  • Agarwal S, Lakoma A, Chen Z, Hicks J, Metelitsa L, Kim E, Shohet J (2015) G-CSF promotes neuroblastoma tumorigenicity and metastasis via STAT3-dependent cancer stem cell activation. Cancer Research 75 (12):2566-2579. PMID:  25908586; PMCID: PMC4470771.
  • Zheng L, Agarwal S, Shohet J, Zage P (2015) CD114 Expression Mediates Melanoma Tumor Cell Growth and Treatment Resistance. Anticancer Research 35: 3787-3792. PMID: 26124323.
  • Lakoma A, Barbieri E, Agarwal S, Jackson J, Chen Z, Kim Y, McVay M, Shohet J, Kim E (2015) The MDM2 small molecule inhibitor RG7388 leads to potent tumor inhibition in p53 wild-type neuroblastoma”. Cell Death Discovery 1: 15026. PMID: 26998348; PMCID: PMC4794278. 
  • Rihani A, Van Goethem A, Ongenaert M, De Brouwer S, Volders P, Agarwal S, De Preter K, Mestdagh P, Shohet J, Speleman F, Vandesompele J, Van Maerken T (2015) Genome wide expression profiling of p53 regulated miRNAs in neuroblastoma. Scientific Reports 12;5:9027. PMID: 25762502; PMCID: PMC4356961. 
  • Beckers A, Van P, Carter D, Gartlgruber M, Herrmann C, Agarwal S, Helsmoortel HH, Althoff K, Molenaar JJ, Cheung BB, Schulte JH, Benoit Y, Shohet JM, Westermann F, Marshall GM, Vandesompele J, De Preter K, Speleman F (2015) MYCN-driven regulatory mechanisms controlling LIN28B in neuroblastoma. Cancer Letters 366(1):123-32. PMID: 26123663; PMCID: PMC4837470.
  • Kim E, Agarwal S, Shohet J (2015) G-CSF is a cancer stem cell-specific growth factor-response. Cancer Research 75(18):3992. PMID: 26337907; PMCID: PMC4608385. 
  • Hsu D*, Agarwal S*, Benham A, Coarfa C, Trahan D, Chen Z, Stowers P, Courtney A, Man C, Olutoye O, Metelitsa L, Gunaratne P, Kim E, Shohet J (2013) G-CSF receptor positive neuroblastoma subpopulations are enriched in chemotherapy-resistant or relapsed tumors and are highly tumorigenic. Cancer Research 73 (13):4134-4146. PMID: 23687340; PMCID: PMC4298227. (*Co-first Author)
  • Jha S, Agarwal S, Sanyal I, Jain GK, Amla DV. (2012) Differential subcellular targeting of recombinant human α₁-proteinase inhibitor influences yield, biological activity and in planta stability of the protein in transgenic tomato plants. Plant Science 196: 53-66. PMID: 23017899.
  • Coulon S, Dussiot M, Grapton D, Maciel T, Wang P, Callens C, Agarwal S, Fricot A, Tamouza H, Zermati Y, Ribeil J, Djedaini K, Oruc Z, Pascal V, Courtois G, Arnulf B, Alyanakian M, Benhamou M, Cogné M, Monteiro RC, Hermine O, Moura IC (2011) Polymeric IgA1 controls erythroblast proliferation and accelerates erythropoiesis recovery in anemia. Nature Medicine 17 (11):1456-1465. PMID: 22019886. 
  • Callens C, Coulon S, Naudin J, Radford I, Boissel N, Wang PH, Agarwal S, Tamouza H, Paubelle E, Asnafi V, Ribeil JA, Dessen P, Canioni D, Chandesris O, Rubio MT, Beaumont C, Benhamou M, Monteiro RC, Moura IC, Hermine O. (2010) Targeting iron homeostasis induces cellular differentiation and synergizes with differentiating agents in acute myeloid leukemia. Journal of Experimental Medicine 207(4):731-750. PMID: 20368581; PMCID: PMC2856037. 
  • Jha S, Agarwal S, Sanyal I, Jain V, Amla D. (2010) Over-expression of human serum alpha-1-protease inhibitor (α1-PI) in alternate hosts for therapeutic applications. Journal of Surgical Sciences. 2010; 1(1):31-37. (Review Article)
  • Agarwal S, Jha S, Sanyal I, Amla DV (2010) Expression and purification of recombinant human alpha-1-proteinase inhibitor and its single amino acid substituted variants in Escherichia coli for enhanced stability and biological activity. Journal of Biotechnology 147 (1): 64-72. PMID: 20346993.
  • Agarwal S, Jha S, Sanyal I, Amla DV. (2009) Effect of point mutations in translation initiation context on the expression of recombinant human alpha(1)-proteinase inhibitor in transgenic tomato plants. Plant Cell Reports 28(12): 1791-8. PMID: 19834712.
  • Agarwal S, Singh R, Sanyal I, Amla DV (2008) Expression of modified gene encoding functional human alpha-1-antitrypsin protein in transgenic tomato plants. Transgenic Research 17: 881-896. PMID: 18320339.

Presentations in National and International Conferences:

  • Agarwal S, Tomolonis J Vasudevan S, Shohet J “Epigenetic modifiers MLL1 and JMJD3 regulate neuroblastoma tumorigenicity by maintaining a cancer stem cell-like population”, in Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2018), May 2018, San Francisco, USA. Poster presentation.
  • Agarwal S “Epigenetic modifiers MLL1 and JMJD3 regulate neuroblastoma tumorigenicity by maintaining a cancer stem cell-like population” in Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2018), May 2018, San Francisco, USA. Rapid Oral Presentation.
  • Agarwal S, Tomolonis J, Vasudevan S, Shohet J “Epigenetic modifiers MLL1 and JMJD3 regulate neuroblastoma tumorigenicity by maintaining a cancer stem cell-like population” in AACR Special Conference: Pediatric Cancer Research: From Basic Science to the Clinic: December 3-6, 2017 at Omni Resort Atlanta CNN Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Tomolonis J, Zhang H, Vasudevan S, Shohet J. “Epigenetic regulation of neuroblastoma tumorigenicity through MLL1 and JMJD3 modulation in cancer stem cells” in AACR Annual Meeting: April 2017, Washington DC. Published in- Cancer Research DOI: 10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-4781 
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Tomolonis J, Zhang H, Vasudevan S, Shohet J. “Epigenetic regulation of neuroblastoma tumorigenicity through MLL1 and JMJD3 modulation in cancer stem cells” in Center for Cell and Gene Therapy 2016 Conference: 17th November, 2016 at The San Luis Resort, Galveston, USA 
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Lanza D, Heaney J, Shohet J. “Development of a novel transgenic neuroblastoma tumor model using genome editing” in Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2016), May 2016, Cairns, Australia.
  • Agarwal S, Ghosh R, Chen Z, Gunaratne PH, Kim ES, Shohet JM. “Transmembrane adaptor protein PAG1 is a novel tumor suppressor in neuroblastoma” in Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2016), May 2016, Cairns, Australia.
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Vasudevan S, Shohet J. “MLL1 and JMJD3 regulate neuroblastoma cancer stem cells” in Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2016), May 2016, Cairns, Australia. (Plenary Presentation) (Lerner Family Foundation Award)
  • Agarwal S, Rajapakshe K, Milazzo G, Chen Z, Perini G, Shohet J “Genome wide transcriptional assessment of MYCN mediated alteration in p53 activity” in MYC: from biology to therapy: January, 2015, La Jolla, California. 
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Vasudevan S, Shohet J “Epigenetic regulators maintain neuroblastoma cancer stem cells: Model to Treatment” in AACR Special Conference: Advances in Pediatric Cancer Research: From Mechanisms and Models to Treatment and Survivorship: November, 2015, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA  Published in- Cancer Research 76 (5 Supplement), A15-A15.
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Lakoma A, Kim E, Shohet J “Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) is a potent growth factor for Neuroblastoma and potentiates NB CSC functions” in 11th Annual Texas Children’s Cancer Center Symposium: May, 2015, Houston, USA (Oral Presentation)
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Lakoma A, Kim E, Shohet J “G-CSF/STAT3 signaling axis regulates the tumorigenic and metastatic potential of neuroblastoma cancer stem cells” in center for cell and gene therapy 2014 conference: at The Moody gardens, Galveston, USA
  • Agarwal S, Chen Z, Lakoma A, Kim E, Shohet J “G-CSF/STAT3 signaling axis regulates the tumorigenic and metastatic potential of neuroblastoma cancer stem cells (CSCs). at Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2014), May 2014, Cologne, Germany (Oral presentation) 
  • Agarwal S, Rajapakshe K, Coarfa C, Shohet JM “MYCN alters p53 chromatin binding and modulates p53 target gene activation via direct MYCN-p53 binding: a novel tumorigenic mechanism” at Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Conference (ANR 2014), May 2014, Cologne, Germany (Plenary Presentation)

Courses Taught: 

  • PHS 3505 Clinical Immunology
  • PHS 3509 Introduction to Pharmacology
  • PHM 103 Principals of Pharmacology
  • PHM 240 Pharmacology of Anti-cancer Drugs