Gulshan Sunavala-Dossabhoy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor-Research

Contact Information:

Office Phone: 318-675-8216
Laboratory Phone: 318-675-8199
Office Fax: 318-675-5180


B.D.S., 1988, University of Bombay, India
M.D.S., 1991, University of Bombay, India
M.S., 1995, New York University College of Dentistry
Ph.D., 2000, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center-University of Texas Health Science Center

Major Research Interests:

Dr. Sunavala-Dossabhoy's major research interests include Genotoxin-mediated DNA damage and repair, and salivary function.
The primary research interest of our laboratory is the development of therapeutics to alleviate oral complications of cancer therapy. Nearly all patients that undergo radiation for head and neck cancer and a substantial number of patients that undergo total body radiation prior to bone marrow transplantation suffer from its adverse side-effect, salivary hypofunction. Dry mouth affects the ability to eat, speak, and swallow, and it can perpetuate oral infections, oral ulcerations, and dental decay. These complications reduce the quality of life of the patients, limit their nutrition intake, and adversely affect their compliance to cancer treatments. There is no cure for the condition, and symptomatic relief of symptoms remains the mainstay of treatment.
Previous work showed that expression of an alternately spliced variant of Tousled-like kinase 1B, TLK1B, protects normal epithelial cells against radiation damage. Therefore, the focus of our laboratory was to determine whether expression of TLK1B in salivary glands can protect against radiation damage. Using adenovirus–mediated gene delivery and direct protein transfer, we demonstrated that exogenous TLK1B protects salivary function against single-dose ionizing radiation. As an alternate strategy, we are exploring the efficacy of small molecules in stimulating endogenous TLK1B kinase activity and in protecting salivary cells against genotoxic stresses.
Since cancer patients are treated with radiation fractions over a period of weeks, long-term expression of TLK1B in salivary glands is a necessity. In this regard, using adeno associated virus (AAV) mediated delivery, we recently showed that lasting expression of TLK1B preserves salivary function against fractionated radiation. With AAV already in clinical trials for the treatment of various diseases, we are working towards advancing AAV-TLK1B for supportive care of patients undergoing regional radiotherapy.

Representative Publications:

  1. Radioactive iodine: An unappreciated threat to salivary gland function.
  2. Preserving Salivary Gland Physiology against Genotoxic Damage - The Tousled Way.
  3. Regeneration of Salivary Glands
  4. MMP-Sensitive TAT-TLK1B Prevents Head and Neck Tumor Transduction and Radioprotection
  5. DNA damage response and repair data with pharmacological modulators of Tousled.

All Publications: PubMed