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Pathology and Laboratory Medicine distinguished professor Dr. Rajendra K. Sharma (pictured above in 2019)is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the by the Saskatchewan Association of Laboratory Medicine. (Photo: Kristen McEwen)

Pathology professor recognized with lifetime achievement award

After significant contributions and dedication to a career of cancer research, Dr. Rajendra K. Sharma (SOM, PhD, DSc, FRSA) has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Saskatchewan Association of Laboratory Medicine.

Sharma is a distinguished professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan.

“It is very humbling for me to be recognized for this Lifetime Achievement Award,” Sharma said. “Growing up in a small town in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, India, I was brought up with humble beginnings.”

Sharma was inspired to pursue science by his father.

“My father was the local medicine man and was a great proponent of education. It was during a time where there was great advancement in the areas of medicine and the sciences around the world. Because of this, I was influenced heavily to pursue a dream of being a scientist.”

Over the past 50 years, Sharma has made several milestone discoveries. His research has had a profound impact in the areas of colorectal cancer, brain research and the cardiovascular system.

In 1991, Sharma was hired to rejuvenate basic science research within the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Four years later, Sharma and his research team found that an enzyme called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) plays a significant role in early-stage colorectal cancer. By using NMT as a target, anti-cancer drugs have since been developed to target the enzyme.

Much of Sharma’s career has also focused on signal transduction systems, also known as the way molecular signals are transmitted from outside of the cell, to inside the cell, and how Ca2+ calmodulin (CaM)-regulated enzymes are critical in regular cell functions.

Sharma and his laboratory have purified and characterized more than 24 proteins from various species. Through this process, he has identified and purified nearly 12 new proteins and determined their biological and physiological functions.

Sharma quoted the piece of advice he likes to share with learners in his laboratory.

“Whenever my postdoctoral fellows or students face problems during an experiment, I say, ‘Don’t get discouraged, it is often the last experiment that leads to an outstanding discovery.’ ”

Sharma also recalled a piece of advice his father shared with him, “It takes a lot of time to gain wisdom, but it does not take too much time to share wisdom.”

Throughout his career, Sharma has published more than 250 full length papers in the first rate journals with high impact factors, with additional papers currently in the works.

“For me, to have them been able to move across the world, pursue my passions, raise a family, and contribute to the sciences at this level has validated all my effort and sacrifice. Over a fulfilling career, I remain the same passionate young boy from Hathras, filled forever with passion and wonder.”

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