As director of BBRI, Dr. Kumar serves as the scientific leader of NCCU’s JLC-BBRI research facilities in Durham and Kannapolis, NC (North Carolina Research Campus-NCRC). He is a cancer researcher and has been funded continuously by NIH since his first faculty appointment 15 years ago, most recently via R01 funding to study social epigenomics in prostate cancer and a U01 grant to study epigenetics of prostate cancer disparities. Throughout his career, he has obtained extramural funding in excess of $33 million in grant funds.
Dr. Kumar is also the principal investigator (PI) of the NIMHD U54 RCMI grant and directs the NCCU RCMI Center for Health Disparities Research (RCHDR). At JLC-BBRI, he is charged with providing leadership for a broadly based research portfolio that includes cancer, cardio-metabolic disorders, neuroscience, and nutrition. Dr. Kumar has the responsibility of providing scientific guidance on the planning, direction, and implementation of NCCU’s research enterprise, as well as providing leadership to individuals and teams of investigators in developing a strategic approach for increasing the innovation and competitiveness of research.
As a scientist, he brings expertise in cancer cell and molecular biology, specifically characterizing miRNAs as therapeutic targets and biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and stratification. His lab currently focuses on (1) characterizing molecular targets in prostate, breast, and colon cancer; (2) microRNAs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets in prostate and breast cancer; (3) characterizing molecular targets and signaling pathways modulated by micronutrients; and most importantly, (4) enhancing minority participation in cancer research through education and training in cancer research at all levels.
Dr. Kumar has mentored many faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and high school, graduate, and undergraduate students, most of whom are from underrepresented minorities. He has over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles, 10 patents/applications, and over 100 presentations. Dr. Kumar joined NCCU in December 2016, and due to his efforts, since then JLC-BBRI has more than doubled its extramural funding. As PI, Dr. Kumar has received the largest non-title III grant in NCCU’s history ($16.3 million/5 years). In addition, he received a $3.2 million 5-year R01 grant to address social epigenetics in prostate cancer disparities. Dr. Kumar has become the NCCU faculty with the largest amount of extramural funding with more than $20 million as PI.