My research interests include cancer cell signaling, cancer genomics and tumor microenvironment, which are to reveal molecular alterations shared among different types of cancer and pointing to possible strategies for treatment.
Genomic instability is one of the most pervasive characteristics of cancer cells. In my laboratory, we have been studying DNA damage response and cancer genomic alterations (translocation, amplification, and deletion). It is well known that the p53 gene is frequently inactivated by mutation or deletion in a majority of human tumors. A tremendous effort has been made to restore p53 activity in cancer therapies. However, no effective p53-based therapy has been successfully translated into clinical cancer treatment due to the complexity of p53 signaling. Therefore, identification of vulnerabilities conferred by p53 deletion or mutation is a major challenge to target p53 aberrancy in human cancer. My recent work revealed that frequent hemizygous deletion of the p53 gene often encompasses a neighboring essential gene, POLR2A,rendering cancer cells vulnerable to further suppression of POLR2A (Liu Y et al., Nature 2015, profiled by Nature Rev Cancer, Nature Rev Clin Oncol, and Cancer Discov). In collaboration with cancer biologists, physician scientists and industrial scientist, we are now developing a-Amanitin-based drugs that specifically target human cancers with hemizygous loss of p53/POLR2A.
To eliminate the cancer stem cell (CSC) for cancer treatment, my laboratory has been collaborating with biomedical engineering scientist to develop nanoscale biomaterials to safely and effectively deliver one or more small and macromolecules including hydrophilic/hydrophobic anticancer drugs, proteins/peptides, and siRNAs/miRNAs. Moreover, we have been working on combined cancer treatment of chemo, photodynamic, and photothermal therapies.
In future, my laboratory will continue these efforts in understanding cancer biology, identifying novel drug targets and therapies, and developing new cancer drugs using innovative nanoscale biomaterials.
Post-doctoral Fellowship - Baylor College of Medicine, Texas 2000-2003
Post-doctoral Fellowship - National Institutes of Health, Maryland 1998-2000
Ph.D. - Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, CHINA 1993-1998