Like most couples, Drs. Ajay and Seema Singh knew when they got married, in their native India, that they were entering a lifelong collaboration. They didn’t expect, however, that their partnership would turn them into a cancer-fighting team.
Today, the Singhs are research scientists at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and faculty members in the College of Medicine, collaborating on projects they hope will make a difference in the war on cancer.
“It’s not just our job. It’s our passion,” says Ajay. “The opportunity to help people is what motivates us.”
“It’s all about teamwork,” says Seema. “We work in a great environment for research at MCI.”
Founded in 2001 to serve a need for an academic cancer research and treatment center on the Gulf Coast, the Mitchell Cancer Institute is an ultramodern facility with the latest research, diagnostic and treatment technology. Here, research scientists and clinical oncologists work side-by-side, translating their discoveries into innovative cancer treatments and new means of early detection and prevention.
Ajay and Seema moved to America in 2001 from India, where each had earned a doctorate in bioscience. They worked at a major cancer center in Nebraska before joining MCI in 2009.
“I was impressed by the commitment of the director, the motivation and enthusiasm of other research faculty and physician scientists, and the gap I could fill here with my expertise,” says Ajay. “We both felt MCI was a place where we could expand our research and make a difference.”
Ajay now focuses on prostate and pancreatic cancer while Seema studies skin cancer and breast cancer. Their collaborations have shown such promise that they’ve received several substantial research grants. They’ve also patented a number of discoveries, including one for a skin cancer preventive using silver nanoparticles, and formed a company to bring their innovations to market.
“We are very encouraged by the potential of our research and how it could change the lives of cancer patients,” says Seema.
The Singhs’ commitment also shows in their involvement in the Mobile community, which they and their two daughters now call home. Seema is active in numerous events to raise funds for breast cancer research, including MCI’s “Think Pink” Tea and the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides for Breast Cancer.”
And last year, Ajay and Seema became American citizens.
“This is a place where you can really achieve what you want,” says Ajay. “It has given us a great opportunity to do something that can not only benefit this country, but all of humanity.”