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Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine

Drive scientific discoveries that become life-saving solutions.

Praveen Sethupathy ’03, associate professor of biomedical sciences, studies some of the tiniest molecules in biology. Yet those miniscule items might just be the key to saving the lives of a certain group of young people—fibrolamellar cancer patients.

Praveen Sethupathy lecturing

Praveen Sethupathy presents his research on fibrolamellar cancer.

Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma is a rare form of liver cancer. It usually strikes children and young adults with no history of liver disease. No effective treatment options exist except surgically removing the cancer before it spreads — but tragically, the cancer is usually caught only after it has metastasized. “It’s a disease that disproportionately afflicts young people and can come seemingly out of nowhere,” Praveen says.

Praveen’s research may be the key. He studies how genes can be turned off or on, how the "on-off" patterns of genes can change in various diseases, including Crohn’s disease, diabetes and several types of cancers, including fibrolamellar carcinoma.

While some diseases have abundant funding from federal agencies, rare diseases like fibrolamellar cancer often go neglected. Luckily, the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation, founded by patient advocates, has provided Praveen with vital funds to investigate the disease. “The support I’ve received from the foundation has allowed me to continue searching for answers to fibrolamellar cancer—and has been instrumental in the discoveries we’ve made already,” says Praveen.

"Donating to basic scientific research means you are opening countless doorways of possibilities instead of opening just one or two."

Dr. Robert Weiss, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, Professor of Molecular Genetics

His most recent discovery has identified a promising combination of drugs that may serve as the first therapy for this form of cancer.

Praveen and his quest to help those suffering from fibrolamellar cancer is just one example of ways our scientists are working every day to drive discoveries in both fundamental biology and  potential life-saving therapies.

With your help, we can keep important studies moving forward, and make a difference in the lives of humans and animals everywhere.