Muneesh Tewari, MD, PhD
Photo: Muneesh Tewari



Elected 2015
Dr. Tewari earned an M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1997, where he worked with Dr. Vishva Dixit on mechanisms of apoptosis for his thesis research. He then completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Hospitals and a Medical Oncology clinical fellowship at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He subsequently trained in systems biology and genetics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, as a postdoctoral fellow bridging the labs of Dr. Marc Vidal and Dr. Gary Ruvkun. Dr. Tewari joined the faculty of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2005 where he began an independent research program studying microRNAs and cancer. In 2008, Dr. Tewari\'s laboratory reported that microRNAs are released from cancer cells into the bloodstream where they circulate in a highly stable form. This has led to burgeoning interest in circulating microRNAs as biomarkers for cancer and other diseases. His laboratory has gone on to study the biochemistry of extracellular microRNAs (including mechanisms that stabilize them in the extracellular environment), and to develop fundamental understanding pertinent to developing microRNA-based disease biomarker approaches. Through this journey, Dr. Tewari has come to believe that for non-invasive cancer biomarker research to make meaningful progress, the dimension of time needs to be incorporated. The current paradigm typically involves taking a measurement at a single time-point and comparing it to a \"reference range\" from \"normal\" individuals in the population to interpret the result. This is in contrast to making frequent, serial biomarker measurements from the same individual, which can capture an individual\'s pattern and trajectory over time. Whereas in the past such serial measurements were impractical due to cost and logistical concerns, recent advances in technology (e.g., simple, miniaturized diagnostic tests and smartphone-based data analysis and transmission) could overcome such barriers. Dr. Tewari has become inspired to develop a next generation of biomarker approaches for human health and disease that will involve serial monitoring at high time resolution at drastically lower cost than is currently possible. This will require both fundamental research on biomarkers and their relationship to physiology, as well as technology development grounded in advances in engineering and the physical sciences. In 2014, Dr. Tewari moved to the University of Michigan, where he is pursuing this inspiration as a faculty member in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, in the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics, and in the inter-disciplinary Biointerfaces Institute.