B.S., Genetics, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, 1995
PhD , Duke University, Durham, N.C., 2000
Postdoctoral, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, 2000-2004
My laboratory focuses on elucidating how cancer cells acquire metastatic traits throughout the stages of tumor progression. Work in my lab has encompassed a wide spectrum of cancer metastasis research, from mammary gland cell fate regulation to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and early invasion, to metastatic colonization of distant organs and treatment resistance. Our current research aims to decipher the interaction dynamics and signaling mechanisms between tumor cells and their surrounding stromal environment to facilitate the development of novel therapeutics.
My study on organ-tropic metastasis of breast cancer illustrated the functional mechanism of bone metastasis mediated by TGF-β and Notch signaling, miRNAs and various intracellular interaction molecules such as VCAM1 and E-selectin. My lab also pioneered the study of cell lineage regulators in breast cancer initiation and metastasis, thus linking the early and late phases of breast cancer progression. More recently, we reported that macrophages are an important stromal niche component for mammary gland stem cells through Dll1-mediated coupling of Wnt and Notch signaling. Our studies also reveal key components of the regulatory network of epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity and its physiological and clinical relevance in normal development and cancer metastasis.
I led the identification and functional analysis of the novel breast cancer progression gene Metadherin (MTDH) and elucidated its critical role in suppressing host immune responses to metastatic cancer and promoting the survival of tumor-initiating cells under stress. My studies have led to the development of novel therapeutic agents against metastatic cancer, including Jagged1 antibody, glycomimetic inhibitors against E-selectin and small molecule inhibitors against MTDH.
After obtaining my PhD from Duke University, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Joan Massagué at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where I began my study of breast cancer metastasis. I joined the faculty of Princeton University in 2004 and am now a Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology and a Member of the Ludwig Princeton Branch. I am also the Associate Director for Consortium Research of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. I have served as the President of the Metastasis Research Society (2016-2018) and as Chair of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Tumor Microenvironment Working Group (2018-2019).
I have received many awards for my research, including the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Sciences (2011) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Award for Outstanding Achievements in Cancer Research (2012). I was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014 and named an American Cancer Society Research Professor in 2019.
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Princeton
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