Dr. Ashok Saluja obtained his doctoral degree in Biochemistry from Washington State University in 1980. After a post-doctoral stint at Cornell University, he joined Harvard Medical School where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor in Surgery. After twenty years at Harvard, he joined University of Massachusetts Medical School as Professor of Surgery, Medicine and Cell Biology and Director of Pancreatic Diseases Center. In 2006, he joined the faculty of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School as Professor and Vice Chair. He also held Sit Family Chair in Pancreatic and GI cancer research. The University of Minnesota conferred him McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in 2014, one of the highest honor in the University. In 2016 Saluja relocated to University of Miami as Professor and Vice Chair of Surgery, Senior Associate Dean for Research and inaugural Director of Sylvester Pancreatic Cancer Research Institute.
Saluja's research focuses on understanding the physiology of the pancreas and the pathophysiology of pancreatic diseases. He is internationally renowned for his work on the pathogenesis of pancreatitis. His group has recently shown that pancreatic tumors overexpress Heat Shock Protein 70 and its inhibition causes death of these cells not only in in vitro settings but also in mouse models of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Saluja's group has developed a novel drug, which they have named Minnelide (due to its origin from Minnesota). Minnelide is a very effective therapy in pancreatic and several other cancers. It entered Phase I clinical trials in fall 2013, and participants are currently being actively recruited. Saluja has published more than 130 original research papers in peer-reviewed international journals along with several review articles and book chapters. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Health and several biotechnology companies in addition to philanthropic support. Additionally, he is an inventor on several patents. He is one of the largest NIH funded investigator at the University. He also is CSO and co-founder of a start-up biotechnology company, Minneamrita Therapeutics. Over the years Dr. Saluja has been invited to give numerous state-of-the art lectures and keynote addresses at national and international meetings. He has served on NIH panels and the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He is the past president of American Pancreatic Association and International Association of Pancreatology. He is currently Secretary-treasurer of American Pancreatic Association. Dr. Saluja was given prestigious George Palade award by IAP in 2013. He was awarded Life time achievement award by APA in 2014 and Medal from Australian Society of Medical Research in 2015.