By: Nabeel M. Bardeesy, PhD and Allison Deragon

Dr. Supriya Kumar “Shoop” Saha passed away on May 6, 2020, after battling the complications from a bone marrow transplant for the treatment of myelofibrosis. He was only 40 years old. He was one of the first recipients of a Cholangiocarcinoma Fellowship Award. A prolific young physician-scientist and a rising star in the field of cholangiocarcinoma research, he accomplished so much in his short career. His untimely passing left an enormous sense of emptiness to those who knew him.

In his memory, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation (CCF) in partnership with Agios created the Supriya "Shoop" Saha Fellowship Award. Please consider making a gift to remember Shoop and to support a rising young clinician or researcher. Your support will help to further the work to which Shoop dedicated his professional career. Thank you for helping us to remember this brilliant researcher, compassionate physician, treasured colleague, and beloved friend.

Dr. Supriya Kumar “Shoop” Saha

Supriya Kumar "Shoop" Saha
1979-2020

Shoop entered the field of cholangiocarcinoma at a very critical time when the genetic landscape of the disease began to be unveiled. Shoop was in his oncology training caring for a young patient with cholangiocarcinoma whose tumor harbored a mutation in IDH1. This inspired him to join the Bardeesy lab at Massachusetts General Hospital to embark on a quest to further understand the mechanisms by which IDH1 mutation promotes cholangiocarcinoma and to develop effective treatments for patients carrying IDH mutations. Subsequently, he successfully developed a genetically engineered mouse model of IDH-driven malignancy1 and used this model combined with other tools to discover that IDH mutations were indeed causing carcinogenesis by interfering in the cell’s normal development. He continued to make important findings regarding treatment strategies against IDH and FGFR2 mutated cholangiocarcinoma, and then set up a laboratory at the University of Washington dedicated to cholangiocarcinoma research.

We are forever grateful for the impact Shoop left in the cholangiocarcinoma community. He had a way with others and left a legacy of encouragement with all he came in contact with. Please enjoy a few tributes from a few of his closest colleagues and friends.

“Shoop had outstanding abilities, and we are fortunate that he chose to focus on cholangiocarcinoma. Having worked with him for a number of years, when I hear his name two things immediately come to mind: his smile if you knew him could light up a room. It was one of those charismatic smiles that could make a room just feel warm, but it fit him because he was so gracious and his smile reflected that as did his laugh. If you knew him and you shared laughs with him then you know what I mean he had a very distinct laugh and I loved it, it was just him.”

- Brandon Nicolay, PhD


“He brought a zeal, a passion and a quiet confidence and energy to everything that he did. He had grace and generosity and he took a lot of joy in helping people. And I think this is why he had a deep happiness that he radiated wherever he went. Shoop has left a tremendous legacy in the field of cholangiocarcinoma, with all of his dedicated efforts. And he’s left deep footprints in all of our hearts. Shoop was unrepeatable.”

-Lipika Goyal, MD


“Shoop’s support and guidance has helped me get to where I am today. And even though he has passed, his professional and personal impact on my life will continue to shape my personality and my future career as a physician. I will remember and miss him forever.”

- Phuong Vu

“I remember the first time I heard him give a scientific presentation, I knew we needed to get connected with him. He was a young and energetic scientist that focused much of his lab-based efforts on finding a cure to cholangiocarcinoma. He helped Agios develop a targeted treatment for patients with an IDH mutation and was soon after funded to set up a cholangiocarcinoma focused lab at the Fred Hutchinson center in Washington. Internally we call this the “shoop effect” it’s exactly the pattern that we want to see over and over again. We want to identify and provide seed funding for the best ideas and the most talented scientists and clinicians and we want them to go on to discovery. In my personal interactions with him, I found him to be the most light-filled, kind-hearted, and friendly person I have ever met. I never saw him without a smile. We are hopeful that more Shoop like young investigators and clinicians will find a passion for cholangiocarcinoma and join us in our efforts.”

- Stacie Lindsey

The impact of Shoop’s science and clinical work will never be forgotten and we hope that this new fellowship in his honor will help us attract the best and the brightest. So many of our colleagues and friends have asked us what they can do to honor him, and we would invite you to make a donation to the Remembering Shoop Fund.

We are so grateful for the impact that Shoop made on us as individuals and as a community of stakeholders and we hope that we can increase that impact by funding this research fellowship in his memory.

References:

  1. Saha SK, Parachoniak CA, Ghanta KS, et al. Mutant IDH inhibits HNF-4α to block hepatocyte differentiation and promote biliary cancer [published correction appears in Nature. 2015 Dec 3;528(7580):152]. Nature. 2014;513(7516):110-114. doi:10.1038/nature13441