Areas of Expertise
Molecular & Cellular Biology (MoCell); General Biology I ; Cancer Biology
B.Sc. (Biology), Emory University (2000)
Ph.D (Genetics and Molecular Biology), Emory University (2006)
PostDoc (Liver regeneration), Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (2012-2015)
My research focuses on studying secreted factors in microenvironment of both normal and neoplastic cells. I study the role of these secreted factors on a cell's interaction both with the other surrounding cells and the organism as a whole. I have two main projects of interest.
1. Tumor Microenvironment: I have been interested in the tumor microenvironment since the beginning of my graduate career. The aim of my dissertation was to examine molecular approaches for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The dissertation project led to a better understanding of the process of gliomagenesis through identification and characterization of secreted proteins present in the tumor microenvironment. It identified critical differences in protein profiles of CSF samples from patients with low and high-grade astrocytomas as compared to non-tumoral controls. This allowed for identification of a spectrum of signature proteins for different glioma types that may constitute new diagnostic markers in the form of a potential biomarker panel. In addition, I was able to identify and characterize soluble proteins regulated by wt-p53 expression in glioma cells. One of these proteins, Gal-3 was characterized further for its anti-tumor activities and was found to induce apoptosis in several tested tumor cell lines. At Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center (SKMCH&RC), I continued this work on biomarkers for cancer development, progression and treatment in breast and oral cancer in my independent research lab. The first study was designed to investigate the relationship between breast cancer prognosis and plasma levels of Gal-3 while the second study aimed to identify markers of nodal metastasis in early tongue cancer. I would like to continue this work further using in vitro breast cancer cell line model systems to confirm the involvement of Gal-3 in chemotherapy controlled p53-induced apoptosis.
2. Liver Regeneration: Liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy is fundamentally associated with the ability of resting hepatocytes to enter and complete the cell cycle with mitosis. However, hepatic regenerative capability diminishes with aging. How to restore the regenerative capability in aged animals remains unknown. My recent work has focused on using pharmacological agents such as GABA to prime hepatocytes from old mice into G2 prior to hepatectomy. This reverses age-related impairments of hepatocyte and liver regeneration in aged mice. Current studies in collaboration with Mayo Clinic focus on understanding the molecular pathways behind this positive effect of GABA on hepatocyte rejuvenation.
The ultimate goal of my teaching is to stimulate my students to understand basic biological principles so they can make informed decisions regarding their own health and the environment. In addition, I also want them to appreciate and value the importance of biological sciences in their lives and to leave my class understanding that biological issues are connected with economics, politics, history and culture. Since people have different learning styles and skills, I consider it my responsibility as a teacher and facilitator to present the information in a variety of approaches (books, visuals, animations, games, etc.), taking into account the varied learning tendencies of the student population. I do not believe in a one way conversation through lecturing in class. Rather, I intersperse my talk about a topic with animations, news clippings or expert scientist interviews to keep student attention and interest. In addition, I ask questions designed to make students think and use the information being presented thus allowing better retention. I facilitate the organization of information by providing short outline of main points of lecture and detailed slides for studying purposes. This allows students to focus on actually understanding the material presented in class rather than concentrate on note-taking.
I am a big proponent of the Socratic method of teaching since it allows for both cooperative and active learning of topics presented in the course. As a third year graduate student, I received a National Science Foundation funded fellowship to teach in K-12 classrooms using case based, investigative and cross disciplinary teaching pedagogy. The positive response of the students to this collaborative, and research based method was fascinating. Since then, I have always strived to incorporate case-based and hands-on learning modules in my courses, especially for students interested in research. Recently I started to build an online database (labmonsters.com) of case studies, investigative and cross-disciplinary laboratory exercises, short questions, and problems that can be used as a resource by instructors interested in using these methods. I have found that using technology based teaching and assessment methods catches student interest and entices them to get more involved in their learning path. Such investigative methods challenge the students to ask questions, synthesize hypotheses, and give them an opportunity to learn important research skills that go beyond the classroom and will be useful in their future professional as well as personal lives.
Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan approved Ph.D supervisor May. 2007
Georgia Life Sciences Summit Poster Award Oct. 2005
Biology instructor (as a Dean’s Fellow Graduate student) Aug. 2005 - Dec. 2005
National Science Foundation PRISM fellow June 2003 - May 2004
Research Collaborator (Mayo Clinic Jacksonville)
American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (ALSD) 2013-present
Medical Research Society of Pakistan (MRSP) 2007-present
Associate member American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) 2006-present
Student member Society of Neuro-oncology (SNO) 2004-2006
Grants and Contracts Awarded
PATENTS AND INVENTIONS:
E.G. Van Meir and Fatima W. Khwaja (co-inventors). “Use of Solube Galectin-3 (Gal-3) for Cancer Treatement).” PCT/US2007/078857 (U.S and International patent pending)
Publications & Presentations
PUBLICATIONS IN PROGRESS :
FW Khwaja, T Hata, L Lewis-Tuffin, Z Li, G Bu, and JH Nguyen. Priming hepatocytes into G2 phase restores liver regenerative capacity in elderly mice. (manuscript in revision)
S. Faiz, R. Azhar, Q. Ahmad and FW Khwaja. Retrospective tissue microarray analysis finds potential predictors of nodal metastasis in early tongue cancer. (manuscript under review)
S. Faiz, A. Shafiq, A. Suleman, A. Hassan, SH. Ali, N. Ud Din, O. Farooq, A. Loya, N. Siddiqui and FW. Khwaja. Galectin-3 is a serum marker of chemotherapy efficacy in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy(in revision for Journal of Breast Cancer).
FW Khwaja, A.S. Zerrouqi, E. Sandberg, and E.G. Van Meir. Control of apoptosis in glioma cells by p53 regulation of secreted galectin-3 through TSAP6. (in revision)
FW Khwaja and EG VanMeir, 2009. Proteomic discovery of biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid of brain tumor patients. CNS Cancer, Models, Prognostic Factors and Targets. Springer publishing group. (Invited book chapter)
Schlientz, L., & F.W. Khwaja, 2008. I scream you scream. Emory University, CASES Online
Web site: http://www.cse.emory.edu/cases/casedisplay.cfm?case_id=1627
FW Khwaja. 2007. Prognostic markers of astrocytoms; Predicting the Unpredictable. Expert Opinion on Medical Diagnostics. Dec. 1; 1(4): 463-479. (Invited review)
FW Khwaja, J.J. Olson, D.J. Brat, G.Y. Gillespie, M.D. Groves, E.G. Van Meir. 2007. Identification of protein biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of astrocytoma patients. Journal of Proteome Research. Feb. 2; 6(2): 559-570.
FW Khwaja, P. Svoboda, M. Reed, J. Pohl and E. G. Van Meir. 2006. Identification of secreted proteins regulated by wt-p53 experession in glioma cells through proteomic analysis. Oncogene, Dec 7;25(58):7650-61.
FW Khwaja, J.S. Duke-Cohan, D.J. Brat, E.G. Van Meir. 2006. Secreted attractin, a novel cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) marker of malignant astrocytoma, mediates tumor cell migration. Clinical Cancer Research. 12(21): 6331-6336.
FW Khwaja, J.D Larkin Nolen, S. Mendrinos, MM Lewis, E.G. Van Meir J.C Richie and D.J. Brat. 2006. Identification of novel biomarkers of neoplastic disease using CSF proteomic profiling. Proteomics, Dec; 6(23):6277-87.
A. Bunin, FW Khwaja, GJ. Kersch. 2005. Regulation of Bim by TCR signals in CD4/CD8 double positive thymocytes. Journal of Immunology: 175(3): 1532-9.
C. Tan, RG. de Noronha, AJ. Roechker, B. Pyrzynska, FW Khwaja, Z. Zhang, H. Zhang, Q. Teng, A.C. Nicholson, P. Giannakakou, W. Zhou, J.J. Olson, M.M. Pereira, K.C. Nicolaou, and E.G. Van Meir. 2005. Identification of a Novel Small-Molecule Inhibitor of the Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 Pathway. Cancer Research, 65(2); 605-12.
Kaur, B., Khwaja, FW, Severson, E., Matheny, S., Brat, D.J., and Van Meir, E.G. 2005. Hypoxia and the HIF pathway in glioma growth and angiogenesis. Neuro-Oncology, 7(2): 134-53.
Lai, K, SD Langley, FW Khwaja, EW Schmitt and LJ Elsas. 2003. GALT deficiency causes UDP-hexose deficit in human galactosemic cells. Glycobiology 13(4):285-294.
FW Khwaja, M. Reed, JS. Duke-Cohan, DJ. Brat, BJ. Schmotzer, JJ. Olson, GY. Gillespie, A. Guha, MD. Groves, J. Pohl, and EG. VanMeir. 2006. Identification of Glioma-Motility Factor, Attractin, and Other New Protein Biomarkers, in the Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of Astrocytoma Patients. Oral Presentation, Society for Neuro-Oncology, 11th Annual meeting, November 16-19, Orlando, USA.
FW Khwaja. 2005. Control of Galectin-3 secretion by p53 in glioma cells. Oral Presentation, GMB seminar, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
FW Khwaja, JJ Olson, DJ Brat, S. Mendrinos, and EG Van Meir. 2004. Diagnostic Potential of Proteomic Analysis of Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) from Glioma Patients. Oral Presentation, Society for Neuro-Oncology, 9th Annual meeting, November 18-21, 2004. Toronto, Canada
FW Khwaja. 2004. Examining the role of p53 on glioma cell microenvironment through proteomics. Winship Cancer Institute seminar series. Oral Presentation. October 29, 2004. Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
FW Khwaja. 2004. Diagnostic Potential of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in Glioblastoma patients; a Proteomics approach. Oral Presentation. Second Annual Graduate Student Symposium, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
FW Khwaja. 2004. Examining the tumor suppressive effects of p53-mediated alteration of cellular microenvironment; a Proteomics approach. Oral presentation. GMB seminar, Emory University, Atlanta.
FK Rehman, T Hata, Z Li, G Bu, and JH Nguyen, 2014. Priming hepatocytes to G2 enhances liver regeneration in elderly mice. AASLD 65th Annual meeting, Boston, MA.
T Hata, FW Khwaja and JH Nguyen. 2013. GABA protects against mitochondrial dysfunction in mice with acute liver failure. AASLD 64th Annual meeting, Washington, DC.
S Lee, FW Khwaja, A Zerrouqi, NS. Devi, EG. Van Meir. 2011. Galectin-3 selectively kills tumor cells through the interaction with β1 integrin via enhanced N-glycan-dependent mechanism. AACR international conference, Orlando, Florida
S. Faiz, R. Azhar, Q. Ahmad and FW Khwaja. 2011. Retrospective tissue microarray analysis finds potential predictors of nodal metastasis in early tongue cancer. AACR international conference, Orlando, Florida
S Faiz, M. Tehseen, R. Azhar, Q. Ahmad, O. Farooq, R. Hussain, A. Jamshaid and FW Khwaja. 2009. Retrospective tissue microarray analysis finds potential predictors of nodal metastasis in early tongue cancer. Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center Annual Symposium. Lahore, Pakistan.
A. Shafiq, A. Suleman, S. Faiz, A. Arshad, SH. Ali, N. UdDin, A. Loya, N. Siddiqui and FW. Khwaja. 2008. Role of Adjuvant chemotherapy controlled p53 activity on expression and localization of galectin-3 in breast cancer patients. UICC, INCTR conference; Geneva, Switzerland.
A. Suleman, A. Shafiq, S. Faiz, A. Arshad, SH. Ali, N. UdDin, A. Loya, N. Siddiqui and FW. Khwaja. 2008. Galectin-3 secretion correlates with chemotherapy controlled apoptosis in breast cancer patients. UICC, INCTR conference; Geneva, Switzerland.
S. Faiz, SH. Ali, N. Ud Din, A. Loya, N. Siddiqui and FW. Khwaja. 2008. Role of chemotherapy controlled p53 on expression and localization of Galectin-3 in breast cancer patients. AACR special conference; Advances in Cancer Research. Dead Sea, Jordan.
S. Faiz, A. Shafiq, A. Suleman, A. Arshad, SH. Ali, A. Loya and FW. Khwaja. 2007/ 2008. Role of adjuvant chemotherapy controlled p53 activation on expression and localization of Galectin-3 in breast cancer patients. 18th annual meeting of Medical Research Society of Pakistan (MRSP). Karachi, Pakistan.
FW Khwaja, AS Zerrouqi, SN Devi, and EG Van Meir. 2007. A novel tumor suppressive mechanism for p53: Paracrine induction of apoptosis through galectin-3 secretion. 98th annual meeting of American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Los Angeles, CA.
I Nousheen , M Saeed, K Khawaja, S Saleem, FW Khwaja and Anwar N. 2006. Molecular Epidemiology of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in Punjab. Poster Presentation, Medical Research Society of Pakistan (MRSP) meeting, Abbotabad, Pakistan.
FW Khwaja. 2005. Proteomic Profiling Identifies Attractin and Other Tumor and Grade-Specific Biomakers in the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) of Astrocytoma Patients. Poster/Oral Presentation, Georgia Life Sciences Summit, Atlanta, GA.
FW Khwaja. 2005. Proteomic Profiling Identifies Attractin and Other Tumor and Grade-Specific Biomakers in the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) of Astrocytoma Patients. Poster Presentation, 3rd International Winship Cancer Institute Research Symposium, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.
F.W. Khwaja, Schlientz, L.H., & Dubose-Arnold, T. 2004. New cases for PBL in the high school chemistry classroom. Poster presentation, PBL 2004 International Conference, June 2004, Cancun, Mexico. Available from the Emory University PRISM website: http://www.prism.emory.edu/products/pres
FW Khwaja. 2003. Identification and Characterization of p53-induced secreted proteins. Poster presentation. Graduate Student Symposium, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
Lai, K, SD Langley, FW Khwaja, EW Schmitt and LJ Elsas. 2002. Galactose-1-phosphare Uridyltransferase deficiency causes decreased UDP-hexose concentrations in human galactosemic cells. Poster presentation, American Society of Human Genetics 52nd Annual Meeting, October 15 - 19, 2002. Baltimore, M.D.
PUBLIC HEALTH PROJECTS:
Cancer Awareness Campaign, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital 2005-present
Under this campaign we are translating the CancerQuest website into Urdu for the general public of Pakistan. The informational videsos and animations contained within the site were translated in the waiting areas throughout the hospital. In addition, we developed “Cancer by Type” brochures in both English and Urdu to be used in the hospital and various other settings in order to raise public awareness. These brochures were also published in the form of small informational articles in the hospital’s quaterly magazine “Hope”. As a part of the campaign I gave planned and invited presentations regarding cancer awareness all over Lahore and surrounding areas (Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha) where we provide information to the general public about the biology, cause, risk factors, detection and treatment of cancer along with tips for reducing risk.
ONLINE TEACHING RESOURCE PROJECT:
Due to my interest in curriculum development and problem based learning pedagogy, I started a website (http://www.labmonsters.com/) in Dec 2012 containing a collection of labs, case studies and articles to assist educators and students in using investigative and cross-disciplinary learning techniques in science classrooms. Central to my goals, is the development and implementation of innovative science lessons using cross-disciplinary and investigative case based learning methods. These techniques challenge students to learn by asking them to apply curriculum materials to real-world problems. At the most basic level, these types of learning methods develop problem-solving skills and content knowledge while encouraging students to think in a multidimensional and creative manner. Students become active participants in the learning process, rather than passive sponges of information.