About Me

I am a surgical oncologist who specializes in treating people with both benign and cancerous diseases of the pancreas, bile duct, gallbladder, and liver.

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Our team philosophy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is that every patient is unique in all aspects and has individual needs — from the time of diagnosis, to treatment, and at recovery. This is particularly important when treating cancers of the pancreas, bile duct, gallbladder, and liver, which are among the most complex to treat, and require an experienced surgical team. My partners and I at MSK have extensive experience treating these tumors; we perform close to 1000 operations a year and have pioneered many of the surgical techniques to safely remove them. To allow people to recover faster after surgery, we have also developed laparoscopic and robotic surgical approaches and we use these techniques whenever possible. Individualized treatment can often have multiple components, such as chemotherapy and other treatments in addition to surgery. To ensure the best possible treatment for every person, we work as a team comprised of international leaders in medical oncology, gastroenterology, radiology, pathology, and nursing, and discuss all details of patient care in a weekly multidisciplinary conference. Our primary goal is to provide people with exceptional care in the most careful, efficient, and expeditious way possible.

In addition to performing surgeries and caring for patients, I am a member of the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, where I perform laboratory research to identify new ways to use the immune system to fight pancreatic cancer. T cells are highly specialized cells of the immune system designed to protect the human body from infections and cancer. In the past decade, we have discovered that T cells recognize and kill cancers. By understanding how T cells recognize cancer, we have now developed treatments called immunotherapies to supercharge T cells and overcome cancer defenses.

By studying T cells in a common soft tissue tumor (sarcoma) at MSK, I discovered that imatinib (Gleevec®) ­— a highly effective drug that we use to treat these tumors ­— also activates T cells to attack cancers. I combined imatinib with an immunotherapy to increase T cell tumor killing. These findings changed our understanding of how imatinib and other drugs called kinase inhibitors destroy tumors. The National Cancer Institute recognized our work and sponsored a clinical trial to test this new treatment combination in patients. My research experiences have taught me the power of laboratory work to make new discoveries that change the way we think about and treat cancer. My goal is to apply this expertise to develop new immunotherapies for pancreatic cancer.

  • Clinical Expertise: Pancreatic Cancer; Benign, Premalignant, and Malignant Diseases of the Pancreas, Bile Duct, Gallbladder, and Liver
  • Languages Spoken: English; Chinese; Hindi; Tamil
  • Education: MD, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • Residencies: General Surgery - New York-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Fellowships: Complex Surgical Oncology - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Board Certifications: Surgery

My Research

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See Vinod P. Balachandran’s laboratory
research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

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Visit PubMed for a full listing of Vinod P. Balachandran’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

As home to one of the world’s top cancer research centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering is typically involved in more than 900 clinical trials at a given time. Currently, clinical trials focused on the conditions I treat are enrolling new patients. If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, click to learn about the trial’s purpose, eligibility criteria, and how to get more information.

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Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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