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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr. Monali Vasekar is a clinical researcher with an interest in clinical trial development in breast cancer and disparities in cancer care. For this she was awarded the two year grant - the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials: Career Development Award. In this work she is designing a therapeutic capstone trial under the mentorship of Dr. Monika Joshi, a nationally renowned genitourinary clinical trialist, the director of Penn State Cancer Institute's (PSCI) Clinical Trials Office and scientific officer of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium. Dr. Vasekar is also the institutional PI/Sub-I on ~20 breast cancer trials (phase 3 and 2) that are a mix of pharmaceutical and cooperative group studies (such as ECOG ACRIN, SWOG, NRG). She is especially interested in immunotherapeutics (IO) in breast cancer and was recently awarded a pilot PSCI grant for the study of Contrast US in IO for patients with breast cancer (Co-PI). In addition, she is a key clinical collaborator in investigator initiated trials (IIT) for breast cancer by distinguished researchers that include Dr. Kathryn Schmitz, a prolific exercise oncology researcher, Dr. Alan Lipton (biomarkers in breast cancer) and Kim Leitzel. Dr. Vasekar also has her own IIT in supportive cancer care, the "Diminishing Chemotherapy related side effects through patient education" D-CRSE study. She also leads the RiseUP committee, a PSCI committee interested in improving diversity in cancer clinical trials, and has ongoing collaboration with the CTSI-Informatics group for TriNetX database based research.

Teaching and educational interests

Dr. Monali Vasekar serves as the Associate Program Director (APD) for the hematology oncology fellowship program and is responsible for direct mentorship, guidance, formal didactics and oversight of 12 fellows (four per year). She co-leads the process of selecting and interviewing fellowship candidates and the fellowship Clinical Competency Committee. Additionally, she has been instrumental in program directors’ efforts to implement a longitudinal clinic experience for fellows, which has been critical in turning around a fledgling fellowship program to a desirable one. Dr. Vasekar serves as the primary longitudinal clinic mentor for several fellows per year. She has also successfully implemented a new teaching format of “Fellows Tumor Board” to further enrich the fellows’ educational experience.

Between the years 2019-2021, Dr. Vasekar served as a "society-advisor-coach" for Foundations of Patient Centered Care (FPCC) for an average of five medical students per year that encompassed several aspects of longitudinal medical student experiences, including serving as an expert for clinical skills enhancement through formal and bedside sessions, reviewing assessments, coaching and advising regarding education, career arc and check-ins regarding larger aspects of medical student life. 

Dr. Vasekar has also served as an ad-hoc facilitator for problem-based learning (PBL) aspects of medical student courses, revised cases for PBL, provided didactic lectures to medical students and helped run a mock tumor board for breast cancer cases that students found to be of high yield. She also regularly conducts didactic sessions and bedside sessions while on inpatient service and clinics for residents, medical students and PA students. Her dedication as an educator to fellows, residents and medical students earned her a Department of Medicine Teacher of the Year award in 2022.

Clinical interests

Dr. Monali Vasekar is recognized for her excellence in patient care as seen by high patient satisfaction scores of 4.8/5 (based on 279 patient reviews). While she started off with focus on breast cancer as clinical area, she also developed clinical expertise in sarcoma management and is the primary medical oncology sarcoma expert that receives regional as well as out of state referrals. She is an integral part of the multidisciplinary tumor board on which she is valued for her opinions and expertise. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in establishing a new service line, the Cardio Oncology Clinic, and serves as the director of the oncology branch of Cardio Oncology Working Group.

Dr. Vasekar also continues to provide excellent patient care through inpatient teaching, non-teaching teams and oncology consults and consistently receives superior evaluations by her peers. She was recognized as an exceptional provider in the Department of Medicine in the summer of 2022.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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