Yin Liu, PhD

Dr. Liu [Layton Family Fellow] studies lung biology. The lung is innervated by diverse types of sensory neurons, collectively called pulmonary sensory neurons. These neurons detect a variety of physiological stimuli from the lung and inform the central nervous system about the state of the lung. Lung cancer, one of the most common cancers with a high rate of lethality, is associated with symptoms such as chronic cough, shortness of breath, and referred cranial facial pain.

Alistair N. Boettiger, PhD

Dr. Boettiger uses new high-resolution imaging technology to visualize the spatial arrangement of the genome in individual cells. Alterations in the physical structure of the genome affect gene expression and cell behavior. He aims to explain how mutations and genome structure changes give rise to malignancy and treatment resistance in cancer cells.

Zhipeng Lu, PhD

Dr. Lu [Layton Family Fellow of the Damon Runyon-Sohn Foundation Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Award] is developing new methods for direct analyses of RNA structures and RNA-RNA interactions in living cells, which remain a major technical challenge. RNA helicases and RNA binding proteins interact with and remodel RNA structures to coordinate all aspects of RNA metabolism, and mutations in these proteins lead to many cancers such as medulloblastoma brain tumors.

Guillem Pratx, PhD

Many studies have shown that the cancer cells within a tumor form a remarkably diverse population. These cellular differences play a significant role in how the tumor develops and how it responds to therapy. A technology called flow cytometry (a high-throughput method for characterizing single cells) has been critical for these findings; however, the technology is inherently limited because it can only measure biochemical processes that can be interrogated using a fluorescent molecule.

Sean C. Bendall, PhD

Dr. Bendall is using novel single-cell analysis techniques to investigate how normal regulatory cell signaling networks are rewired, allowing cancer to grow unchecked.  He has applied this technology to examine healthy human blood cells, measuring multiple parameters simultaneously in single cells.

Jean Y. Tang, MD, PhD

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. Mutations in the Hedgehog (HH) signaling pathway are frequently found in these cancers. Early-stage clinical studies of a HH pathway inhibitor drug have been successful, with 55% of patients reported to respond. However, most tumors change during the course of therapy and drug resistance eventually develops.