Dr. Gauri Rajani Varadhachary passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, June 5th evening. She was surrounded by her husband and daughters and leaves behind a loving family and countless friends. Thank you to everyone who has showered her with love throughout her life and especially supported her these past two years.
Should you wish, please consider a charitable donation in lieu of flowers. Two organizations that were dear to Gauri’s heart were Pratham and the Food Bank. Donation links are provided below.
Pratham USA: https://give.classy.org/gauri
Houston Food Bank: https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/InMemory/GauriVaradhachary or Text InMemory36 to 71777
MD Anderson kindly held a Celebration of Gauri Varadhachary's Life over Zoom on Monday, Juy 19th from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Please click the link to view the recording: https://mediaplayer.mdanderson.org/video-full/9E288103-9370-46D1-ACDF-0F24F6D2C5A1
Recording of the religious ceremony on June 9th: https://view.oneroomstreaming.com/authorise.php?k=1623202503119313
On the evening of Saturday, June 5th, Dr. Gauri Rajani Varadhachary passed away peacefully at 52 years due to complications from lung cancer. She had her husband, Atul, and her daughters, Tanvi and Riya, by her side. Varadhachary is also survived by her parents, Drs. Prem & Rekha Rajani, her mother-in-law, Ms. Jamna Varadhachary, her brother Rajeev Rajani and his family Sonia, Yash, and Nikki, her in-laws Ajay and Anju Varadhachary and her family, Pratish and Maya Kanani, and a constellation of friends and relatives.
Varadhachary was born August 25, 1968 and brought up in Mumbai, India. After graduating from LTM Medical College, Varadhachary moved to Baltimore for her Residency in Internal Medicine and to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston for her Fellowship in Hematology and Oncology. Varadhachary joined Baylor College of Medicine in 2000 as an Assistant Professor in Hematology-Oncology. She moved in 2003 to the Department of GI Medical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she served for almost twenty years, becoming an associate professor in 2006 and full professor in 2012. Throughout her career, she was known for her dedication to quality patient care and for her generosity with her time, energy and empathy.
Varadhachary was a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of unknown (occult) primary tumors, and she served as the Vice Chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Guidelines Subcommittee for Occult Primary tumors. Her active research portfolio in pancreatic cancer helped define borderline resectable pancreatic cancer and a multidisciplinary management strategy involving collaborators across the institution and nationally.
She played many different roles at MD Anderson and her influence on the institution will be felt for a long time. As center medical director of the GI Cancer Center, she embraced the Goals of Care initiatives and served on the ICU Utilization Review Committee. In her role as special advisor to the Chief Medical Officer and then the Chief Medical Executive, Varadhachary provided strategic guidance on building the physician leadership structure across the ambulatory and inpatient spheres, and collaborative leadership on several major initiatives that greatly and positively impacted both patients and the institution. In the months before her passing, she gave much of her time to organizing MD Anderson’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts for patients, which have helped set the national standard for COVID vaccination among immunocompromised cancer patients. She has won numerous awards for her work and is an author on over two hundred academic publications. Her colleagues remember her as dedicated to her patients, a selfless mentor, and a compassionate leader.
Varadhachary’s many professional achievements and attributes, though inspiring, were only a part of who she was and her broader impact.
An empathetic and caring woman, Varadhachary was very passionate about social issues, giving generously of her time and money. An organization that was close to her heart was Pratham USA, India’s largest educational non-profit. She and Atul worked for a year with Pratham in India starting in 1998, helping create Pratham health, a program that reached 65,000 pre-school children in Mumbai, providing them with iron and micronutrients. Gauri continued her involvement with and contributions to Pratham, serving on the Pratham Houston Board for many years. She also generously supported many other organizations in Houston doing great work to support the under-served population whether it be in food security, elder care, or protection against domestic abuse.
Varadhachary always prioritized her family and friends along with her professional and philanthropic contributions. After her eldest daughter was born, coincident with the completion of her fellowship, Varadhachary took a two-year break to spend time with her daughter, which included the year she spent working with Pratha in India. Over the years, she enjoyed spending time with her daughters, helping them with their homework, teaching them a multitude of skills and having dinner together as a family almost every night. Both her daughters are incredibly thankful to have such an amazing role model as a mother - they grew up seeing that it’s possible to balance a successful career, a loving family, and fun.
Dr. Varadhachary loved traveling and the outdoors. She organized vacations with family and friends in exotic locations and loved hiking, exploring new cities, and immersing herself in different cultures. Some of her fondest memories included visiting amazing places around the world including, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and India. She also loved the mountains and felt very connected to them (sharing a birthday with the National Parks Service!) and took her family hiking whether they wanted to go or not. When she wasn’t traveling, she fulfilled her avid love of the outdoors by tending to her verdant garden. Despite her petite frame, she could lift gigantic bags of mulch and drag heavy trash bags of plants all over the yard. You could find her most Sunday evenings knee-deep in soil, planting new flowers in her garden or enthusiastically planning for the next season. Her daughters loved the dichotomy of the professional, well-dressed, successful career woman and the laughing gardener in an old t-shirt covered in dirt from head to toe.
She was an incredible role model for not only her family, but will be remembered by her colleagues and friends as a fountain of laughter, a nurturing friend/mother, and an empathic doctor.