Dr. Vadgama is the Vice President for Research and Health Affairs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU). He is a Full Professor of Medicine at CDU and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in the Department(s) of Internal Medicine. Dr. Vadgama has provided significant leadership in growing and sustaining research at CDU over the last two decades. Dr. Vadgama has several additional administrative responsibilities that include Chair of the Institutional Space Committee, Chair of the Ph.D. Planning Committee, establishing the Intellectual Property/Patent Committee at CDU, Institutional Official for IACUC, and chairing several Task Force committees.
Leadership Experience: Dr. Vadgama continues to serve as Division Chief, Center Director, Vice President, member of the President’s Executive Team, and the Provost’s Team in addition to several additional executive roles. He has over 30 years of direct experience in Academia and Research with a strong understanding of the processes, policies, and procedures necessary to attain academic excellence. He provides significant support and leadership to students, faculty, the Academic Senate, division chiefs, department chairs, deans, provosts, and the University president on matters relevant to research, academic processes, challenges, and growth. Under Dr. Vadgama’s leadership, CDU has set the foundation for establishing a Precision Medicine program's infrastructure to bring genomic-level diagnosis to the translational investigation. He continues to work with faculty, students, and staff to strengthen clinical, basic, and translational research/programs, integrate them with academic programs across campus and develop strong partnerships with UCLA, Cedars, and other institutions. Dr. Vadgama serves on the senior leadership team of the UCLA CTSI Program. At the University president and deans' request, he has represented the University at several national forums on cancer and health disparities. He serves in an advisory capacity to the president and the Executive Team for directing research initiatives at CDU in partnership with other institutions.
Strength in Diversity: Dr. Vadgama has over 25 years of experience working at Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). In 1992/3, he was recruited to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science as Director of Laboratory Research and Development to develop Biomedical Sciences research infrastructure that supported underrepresented and underserved undergraduate students, graduate students, medical residents, clinical fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. Also, during these last 27 years and prior, he has had extensive experience working with underrepresented and under-resourced communities in South Los Angeles and neighboring communities. Dr. Vadgama states: “It continues to be an honor and privilege to be able to make differences in the day to day lives of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners.”
Translational Cancer Research Experience: Dr. Vadgama has extensive experience in conducting oncology research that integrates clinical, basic, and community-based research. The outcome of these efforts has resulted in the development of translational cancer research at CDU. Research programs in his division focus on 1) genetics and epigenetics; 2) identification of cellular/molecular markers and novel genes for early detection, prevention, and management of breast, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancers; 3) mechanisms associated with bone metastasis from breast cancer; 4) role of mismatch repair proteins and microsatellite instability in colorectal cancer in minority populations; 5) identification and characterization of normal and cancer stem cells in breast and prostate cancers that contribute to drug resistance; 6) cancer outreach and prevention studies. 7) Dr. Vadgama and his research team are making significant
Impact on understanding how social and epigenomic factors associated with social determinants of health in underserved and under-resourced communities impact health outcomes, focusing on cancer health disparities. Specifically, his team has identified that comorbidities such as Obesity, Diabetes, and Hypertension play a significant role in cancer health disparities.
He has been a recipient of numerous extramural grants. Recent examples include 1) Identification of novel biomarkers associated with risk for bone metastasis from breast cancer (NIH/NCI CA15083-25S3), and 2) Role of Mismatch Repair Proteins and Microsatellite Instability in Colorectal Cancer in African American and Hispanic patients (CA 15083-25S3). Currently, he is the principal investigator of several center grants at CDU. The CDU/UCLA Cancer Center Partnership has been funded by the National Cancer Institute (U54CA143931) since 2003, with the last renewal for $12.6M (2015-2021). The partnership supports cancer disparities research at CDU and UCLA. It supports programs that develop novel cancer health disparities research. It has developed a state-of-the-art biomarker and biospecimen repository. It provides formal training in cancer research to students, fellows, faculty, community engagement activities, and clinical research studies. In addition, Dr. Vadgama serves as PI for the Accelerating Excellence in Translational Science Center (U54MD007598), recently funded for $18.76M (2019-2025). The overall purpose of the AXIS is to better position CDU for conducting clinical and translational research, especially research focused on health disparities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Vadgama and the CDU team have obtained several administrative supplements from NIH (>$950K) to study health disparities associated with COVID-19 in African American and Latinx communities in South Los Angeles. They have also obtained funding for Covid-19 Vaccine Trials with Fred Hutch Cancer Center for over $1,9M.
Other Professional Experience: Dr. Vadgama serves as a reviewer for grants submitted to the NIH, DOD, VHA, and EPSRC. He is Editor-In-Chief of IJBS, Clinics in Oncology Journal, and serves on the editorial board of 14 journals, and an ad-hoc reviewer for 30 peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Vadgama has participated at national and international cancer meetings as chair, co-chair, invited honorary, and keynote speaker. He has also served on several community-partnered panels and conferences and honored with a Distinguished Achievement Award for Research and Community Partnership award from the Watts Area Ministers (WAM). He received the “Unsung Heroes Award” by the National Community Based Organization Network for Dedicated Service and Outstanding Accomplishments in the Field of Community-Based Public Health. In addition to serving on NIH Study Section Review Committees, Dr. Vadgama serves on several advisory boards. To name a few, The Susan G. Komen® African American Health Equity Initiative (AAHEI): AAHEI Community Advisory Board; the University of California Riverside, Center for Health Disparities; and others.
Teaching and Training Experience: Dr. Vadgama has extensive training students, residents, and fellows in basic, clinical, and translational cancer research. The NIH has funded his training programs since 2004 and serves as a mentor and reviewer for several training programs, including the CTSI and Susan G. Komen Foundation. To date, Dr. Vadgama has mentored 59 postdoctoral and clinical fellows, 34 graduate students, 16 medical students (mostly underrepresented), 149 undergraduate students across the nation, and 35 high school students. Dr. Vadgama serves as a mentor for several funded early-stage investigators at CDU and the UCLA School of Medicine. In addition, he mentors several underrepresented trainees from schools such as CDU, UCLA, UCI, UCR, CSUDH, USC, and others.