Shyamala Gopalan – Biography, Facts About Kamala Harris’ Mother

In a quest to eradicate breast cancer, Shyamala Gopalan became a public figure and was widely acknowledged as a noble breast cancer researcher. She was also known for being a staunch civil rights activist who participated in the Berkeley civil rights movements. Even though she passed on in 2009, her great contribution and research projects still ring a bell at present.

Having devoted 16 years of her life in carrying out research works mainly at McGill University Faculty of Medicine and Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Shyamala Gopalan became a role model to many, especially her students who were tutored at her laboratory. Read on to find out more facts that you need to know about the notable researcher.

Shyamala Gopalan’s Biography

The renowned breast cancer researcher was born to P. V and Rajam Gopalan in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, in 1938. She had three siblings, a brother and two sisters. She experienced a fun-filled childhood which was marked by rich Indian cultural music and art. At a very tender age, Shyamala started attending school and later graduated at the age of 19 with a BS degree from the University of Delhi. The noble civil rights activist later achieved a Masters degree and also got her doctorate of Philosophy in Endocrinology and Nutrition at the age of 25, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Shyamala Gopalan actually began her research works at her alma mater in the Department of Zoology Cancer Research Laboratory. After a while, she got a job at two different universities to work as a researcher of breast cancer and they include, The University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin.

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Gopalan worked as a researcher for 16 years and during that time, she made important discoveries from her research projects which includes the proper understanding of the hormones relating to breast cancer and this she deduced through her various laboratory experiments. In addition, while at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Gopalan carried out experimentation research in order to establish the roles played by the sex steroids in initiating cancer of the breast. Her multiple research works have brought about a great advancement in breast cancer research. As a result of her contributions to society, the famous researcher was handed the noble job of a reviewer at the National Institutes of Health.

Regarding her personal life, Gopalan came in contact with Donald Harris, a Jamaican national who worked as a professor at Standford, while still studying at the University of California, Berkeley. They later got married and welcomed two daughters. Sadly, Gopalan and Harris signed the divorce papers when their kids were still very young. Having been brought up in the rich Indian culture, Shyamala Gopalan gave her daughters some legendary Indian names in order to remind them of their identity, irrespective of where they find themselves. It’s quite unfortunate that the noble researcher passed away on 11th February 2009, having suffered from cancer.

Facts About Kamala Harris’ Mother

1. Shyamala Gopalan was the mother of a US senator

Shyamala Gopalan
Shyamala Gopalan with her two daughters

Among the two daughters Gopalan had together with Donald Harris, one is Kamala Harris who is a well-known United States Senator. She was previously California’s Attorney General before winning the Senate election in 2016. Kamala is the first Jamaican to be representing California in the United States Senate and also the third California female senator. Following her great passion to make a positive impact in the society, Shyamala Gopalan’s daughter has kicked off her presidential campaign for the 2020 United States presidential election, having a strong aspiration of becoming the next US president.

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2. She was given a presidential appointment

As a result of her dedication to breast cancer research, the noble National Institutes of Health reviewer was recognized with a presidential appointment to work as the President’s Special Commission on Breast Cancer.

3. Gopalan won an award as a child

Raised with a sound background of cultural music and art, the mother of Kamala Harris was awarded a national gold medal for excellently performing classical Indian music.

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4. Maya Lakshmi Harris is Gopalan’s daughter

The former Dean of Lincoln Law School of San Jose, Maya Lakshmi Harris is the second daughter of Shyamala Gopalan. Maya has gained public attention as a reputable American lawyer, who also works as MSNBC political pundit. She previously held the position of Vice President of Ford Foundation.

5. Shyamala Gopalan had one grandchild

The renown researcher had a granddaughter named Meena Harris, Maya Harris’ daughter. Meena is currently following her mother’s footsteps, having enrolled in Harvard Law School.

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