Varsha Dutta

PhD Student


Varsha Dutta Pujari is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and has been in clinical practice since 2005. She heads the Clinical Neurosciences department at Lake City Hospital in Thane city and it is here where she set up Soma Living Roots, a Clinical Research Center for Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy in 2018. She currently works with individuals of all ages and specialises in treating patients who suffer from depression in cancer, treatment resistant depression with anxiety disorder, alcohol & substance use, PTSD, bipolar disorder and OCD. She is specialised in neuropsychological assessments for traumatic brain injuries, epilepsy, cerebrovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. She previously worked as a
clinician at Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, Manipal Institute of Neurological Disorders & St. Philomena’s hospital, Bangalore.

Varsha earned her M.S. degree in Cognitive Neuropsychology from U.K. where she specialised in research on cortical hyperexcitability and hemispheric lateralisation in migraine, and it was her work on neural plasticity and hemispheric lateralization in deep dyslexia that earned her the best paper award. She has been published as a first author in the Journal of Cancer Research & Therapeutics, contributing to numerous articles and editorials, and has published a book on psycho-oncology both as editor and author – The Unquiet Mind: Cancer, The Metaethical Quandary of Therapies. Here she focusses on the needs of patients with a first time diagnosis of cancer and the need to empathically dwell on the emotional needs. She is a member of Society for Cancer Research & Communication.

PhD research

Her PhD research focuses on the effectiveness of ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP) in assuaging the psychological, spiritual, and existential distress in the form of anxiety and severe depression faced by patients with advanced cancer.

The clinical research is based in Lake City Hospital, a multi-specialty hospital in Thane city. The study design will employ a mixed method approach where interviews and select psychological measures will incorporate both qualitative and quantitative methods. A non-randomized control study design has been set in place where the comparisons between KAP and stand-alone anti-depressant therapy will be explored in detail.

The scope of this research can be extended to comprehend how KAP is able to assuage depression and the existential issues pertaining to cancer; and also to see if the research can be used to make this novel form of KAP a potential part of the palliative care protocol in advanced stage cancer or any other terminal illness in India, as this could bring the much needed respite and relief to many.


Dutta, V. (2012). Repression of death consciousness and the psychedelic trip. Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics, 8(3), 336-342. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1482.103509

Dutta, V. (2012). Psychostimulants for chemotherapy induced cognitive changes in cancer, Ockham′s razor, anyone? Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics, 8(2), 326-329. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1482.99007

Dutta, V. (2011). Chemotherapy, neurotoxicity, and cognitive changes in breast cancer. Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics, 7(3), 264-269. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1482.87008

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