Indumathy Varadarajan, MD, is a hematologist oncologist at UVA Cancer Center. She specializes in caring for patients with a variety of blood cancers, including:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- Acute myeloid leukemia
- Multiple myeloma
As an active researcher and member of the bone marrow transplant team, Varadarajan is also interested in advancing the use of stem cell transplantation and CAR T-cell therapy. CAR T is a promising new immunotherapy currently being used to treat select adult patients with lymphoma and pediatric patients with leukemia.
Meet a UVA Hematologist Oncologist
1. Why did you become a doctor?
When I was 16, I grew up with my grandmother and unfortunately she passed away from leukemia. That is what pushed me into field of science. Both of my parents are physicians as well so I knew what the lifestyle was. I knew what I was getting into.
2. Why did you choose to specialize in hematology oncology?
I chose hematology oncology because of my grandmother’s experience with leukemia.
3. What is your favorite thing about Charlottesville?
The weather and beautiful skies in Charlottesville. It’s one of the most picturesque and extremely beautiful places I’ve ever been. It’s very calm and pleasant.
4. Where did you grow up?
Chennai, India — also known as Madras. It’s a city in South India.
5. What’s the most exciting thing/research happening in your field right now?
We have a lot of exciting research happening in the field of CAR T-cell therapy. It’s being tried in adult leukemia patients with [acute lymphocytic leukemia] and it’s also being tried in other diseases like mantle cell lymphoma. In terms of transplant, there are many new agents being tried to improve outcomes in graft-versus-host disease. And there’s a lot of interest now in the gut microbiome; what we eat is what we’re made of and it can greatly impact our well being. Those are some of the exciting things.
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6. Who was your inspiration?
I’ve had a lot of people to look up to. I draw a lot of inspiration from my parents, who are both physicians. My mother has balanced her duty as a physician with her time given to us at home very well. She has given us all of the attention we needed and, at the same time, has been wonderful to her patients.
I also draw inspiration from my father because he is one of the most hard-working men I have met in my life. Even today, after 35 years of practice in clinical medicine, he does not have any hesitation to dedicate long hours for patient care.
My mentors include Dr. David Avigan, Dr. Fredrick Locke, Dr. Karen Ballen and Dr. Mike Williams. They’re all a source of inspiration because they continue to work hard to try to show that there’s always room for improvement and ongoing aspirations. They have innumerable professionally admirable qualities that are worthy of emulation.
7. What is your favorite thing about working at UVA?
I think it has a very unique combination of giving personalized patient care and ongoing clinical trials. We have a lot of good basic science research. It’s a good combo of the two.