Meeting the founders

As part of its Scientific Insights Webinar series, Ludwig Communications hosted on September 22nd a panel discussion with the founding Members of Ludwig Princeton—Director Josh Rabinowitz, Associate Director Eileen White and Yibin Kang—moderated by Ludwig Institute Scientific Director Chi Van Dang. After thanking the leadership of Princeton University, RWJ Barnabas Health System and Rutgers University for their support in launching the Princeton Branch, Chi asked each of the researchers to introduce themselves and discuss their research plans at Ludwig Princeton. (For more on each of the founding Members, check out their profiles in the 2021 Research Highlights Report.)

Josh highlighted his interest in exploring dietary interventions for cancer therapy, while Eileen discussed investigating cachexia, the frequently deadly wasting disorder associated with advanced cancers, and the interplay of metabolism and antitumor immunity. Yibin, meanwhile, discussed harnessing Ludwig support to vet a hypothesis he has formulated about pro-survival genes playing a pivotal role in cancer metastasis, and to study the influence of diet on the tissue microenvironment of specific organs and the role such changes play in cancer metastasis.

Guided by Chi’s questions, the subsequent conversation covered matters ranging from technological gaps in the field of cancer metabolism to previous collaborations between the founding Members of Ludwig Princeton to how the researchers plan to explore the influence of diet on anti-tumor immunity and the tumor microenvironment. Josh also said Ludwig Princeton plans to soon recruit at least three additional Members and discussed the expertise—such as tumor immunology and computational biology—they’re most interested in bringing into the Branch. 

At the end of the webinar, Chi opened the virtual floor to questions from the audience, which were moderated by Rachel Reinhardt, senior vice president for communications. Many of the questions had to do with collaboration, with Ludwig Lausanne Director George Coukos and Ludwig Harvard Co-director George Demetri asking how research partnerships might be established between Ludwig locations. As it happened, Yibin had a specific idea for a partnership with George’s lab to explore the targeting of sarcomas using a small molecule drug developed in his laboratory. Eileen spoke about an incipient partnership with researchers at the Ludwig Lausanne Branch whose antibody technologies could be useful to her work on tumor immunology and cachexia. Josh mentioned his conversations with Peter Sorger, among the leaders of the Ludwig Tumor Atlas project (see page 23) and his interest in adding metabolic information to the project’s high dimensional imaging of the tumor microenvironment. 

The webinar closed with Chi assuring researchers that the Ludwig Institute is ready and sufficiently resourced to “catalyze” what he called “cogent” collaborations. The webinar remains available for viewing on the Ludwig Cancer Research website.

This article appeared in the February 2022 issue of Ludwig Link. Click here to download a PDF (1 MB).


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