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CRS Scientist Spotlight on Dr. Debu Chakravarti

Choose a mentor who is truly interested in advancement of your career. All successful people have great mentors and picked smarter folks to surround them around. ”

Dr. Debu Chakravarti, PhD

Dr. Debu Chakravarti, PhD is the Anna Lapham Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Vice Chair for Translational Research for the Department of Ob/Gyn. Dr. Chakravarti's multidimensional research focuses on understanding the molecular dynamics of reproductive diseases such as leiomyomas, endometriosis and prostate cancer.


What brought you to join the CRS community and what is your current position?

When I came to Northwestern, I didn’t consider myself a “reproductive biologist”. However, upon arrival Kelly Mayo who I knew before and Teresa Woodruff approached me to join CRS.  To be a good citizen at a new place I obliged.  Little did I know that in the next 15 years I will change my research focus and address key questions in reproductive pathologies including leiomyomas, endometriosis and cancer.

I am currently Anna Lapham Professor of OB/GYN, Vice Chair for Translational Research, OB/GYN, Associate Director of Division of Reproductive Science in Medicine, Professor of Pharmacology, and Assistant Director of Shared Resources of Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Could you describe your research?

I jokingly but semi-seriously say:  We are an equal opportunity reproductive biology laboratory.  One part of the laboratory focuses on female reproductive diseases such as leiomyomas and Endometriosis while the other part focuses on prostate cancer in men. 

We use genome-wide studies using human samples where ever possible to understand these diseases at the molecular level with the hope that a better understanding of the diseases will lead to future therapeutic development.

What aspect(s) of CRS do you find most valuable? 

A sense of community, and inclusiveness, and promotion of reproductive research across the world.

What has been the most valuable aspect to your training as a reproductive scientist? 

Having colleagues and students who are smarter than me.  In all sincerity, I learned so much about the clinical importance these reproductive diseases from my colleagues and friends including Dr. Serdar Bulun, and Sarki Abdulkadir. From my discussions I learned what are the key fundamental questions I can ask and address.  My lab members are really smart and I learn every day from my lab members about execution and interpretation of results and their implications in human diseases.  Of course, by attending CRS seminars and talking with my CRS colleagues, I continue to become a better scientist.

What would you recommend to junior scientists in order for them succeed in their scientific careers?

Ask important question. Question dogma in science. Let data be your guide and not the other way around. Have confidence in yourself and surround yourself with people smarter than you.  Choose a mentor who is truly interested in advancement of your career.  All successful people have great mentors and picked smarter folks to surround them around.

What do you think will be the next big contribution in the reproductive biology field?

Use of genomic technologies will steer studies on unknown aspects and molecular specifications of fetal development.

What hobbies do you have outside of the lab?

You are right coming to the lab is a hobby and not a job.  My non-academic highly successful friends say that I am the only one among friends who is happy with my “Job”.  You have to like your job as your hobby.  I came to the lab everyday during CoVID19 lockdown.  Outside of the lab, I really enjoy cooking. To relax during a grant submission, I cook. To entertain friends and family , I don’t order food, I cook (I can’t bake!!).  I relax by running almost everyday in my neighborhood and on the lake-front. I read biographical books and books on political and historical events.  I watch documentaries.  Finally I relax watching sports of all kinds on TV including curling.