Karishma Kailass receives 2024 Chair's Doctoral Medal

June 1, 2024 by Alyx Dellamonica

Dr. Karishma Kailass accepted the Chair’s Doctoral Medal at the Chemistry Department Awards ceremony on May 29th.

 A young woman with long brown hair, jeans jacket and glasses smiles at the camera.


Chosen by a committee chaired by Professor Mark Taylor, Kailass obtained her PhD in 2023 under the direction of Professor Andrew Beharry, studying Biological and Medicinal Chemistry. According to department Chair Mark Lautens, who presented the award, her research focused on understanding the role of biomarkers in pancreatic cancer patient prognostics and modulating or exploiting protein activity to increase therapeutic efficacy and selectivity.  

“The goal was to use this platform to clinically predict how well a patient would respond to a chemotherapy treatment before initiating treatment,” Lautens explained to celebrants gathered in the Davenport Atrium on the 29th. “Many of you know that some patients are or become resistant to chemotherapy treatments. Karishma’s research is focused on developing alternative therapies for these patients.” 

Kailass expressed gratitude to Professor Beharry and others in the U of T research community. “Winning an award like this is a meaningful recognition of the efforts of all the people who helped me throughout graduate school, whether that be with experiments, teaching me something new, or being there to support me and provide advice and guidance,” she said, in an interview before the ceremony.  

“While I've stayed in the field of chemical biology, it is quite diverse and my research focus has shifted to the development of treatments for diseases such as cancer and diabetes,” she added. “I am using skills I've learned throughout my graduate studies at U of T to solve similar problems.” 

Asked about her experiences as a student in Mississauga, she added: “Being a part of the smaller UTM campus, I found the familiarity and comfort in my peers and the faculty to be highly conducive to collaboration and fostering a learning environment. There were always welcome opportunities for discussion, advice, and insights regarding research both in and out of my lab.” 

Kailass is now an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School. 

“The value of the expertise and experience of those around you as a researcher is priceless,” she concluded. “This has been especially helpful to me as I transition as a researcher to a new campus and a life in the USA.”