Women's History Month Stories

Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD

CRI Scientific Advisory Council Associate Director, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai

Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD is a professor of medicine professor of medicine, hematology, and medical oncology, and a professor of urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Additionally, she is the medical director of the Vaccine and Cell Therapy Laboratory, and co-director of the Cancer Immunology Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute. At the Icahn Genomics Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, she holds the Ward Coleman Chair in Cancer Research. Dr. Bhardwaj was also a CRI Fellow early in her career. She currently is a member CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council, leading luminaries in the fields of immunology and cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Bhardwaj was recently elevated to Associate Director in January, and CRI currently funds her research.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud of my work on human dendritic cells, showing how critical their function is in jumpstarting an immune response and adapting them and their properties to improve immunity in humans. Also, I am very pleased to be a part of the community investigating and discovering cancer associated neoantigens. 

What advice do you have for women entering scientific fields?  

Find the field or area that excites you the most, and then find the best lab and or mentor to train you, support you, and to help you thrive as you move up the ranks. You must be passionate about what you are interested in and the area of science that you wish to explore. The rest is really a matter of who you are surrounded by, who is mentoring you, and access to the best minds. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that unfortunately there is not equity in science yet. There is still bias, so it is very important to speak out and speak your mind when you encounter issues. I have done that and am proud that I did. Finally, as a woman, I do my best to ensure that women in my lab feel well mentored and supported. 

Who is a woman/mentor that you admire? 

The women I admire most are in my family. My mother and my sisters were doctors and lawyers. My mother came to the U.S. as a young doctor, retrained, and became a pathologist, rising through the ranks to become a blood bank director all the while raising three children. She did everything to perfection; I could never beat her record.  

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