Blood Cancers

Current Projects
Shou-Wen Wang, PhD

Many blood cancers, including leukemia and multiple myeloma, arise when early blood-forming cells do not develop properly. These aberrant cell fate choices cause abnormal blood cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. By combining lineage tracing, single-cell RNA sequencing (scSeq), and computational analysis, Dr. Wang aims to first develop a theoretical foundation and then build computational pipelines that reliably infer the order of events in cellular differentiation from these datasets. The results of this research may empower other biologists to systematically map out cell fate choice in their preferred systems. Applying the tools developed here to study perturbed blood formation (hematopoiesis) may also accelerate progress in understanding blood cancers.

Project title: "Inferring cell fate choice from clonal and transcriptomic data, with application to hematopoiesis"
Institution: Harvard Medical School
Award Program: Quantitative Biology Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Allon M. Klein, PhD, and Fernando Camargo, PhD
Cancer Type: Blood
Evan J. Worden, PhD

Dr. Worden examines how the decision to “turn on” or “turn off” genes is determined by a highly coordinated series of events that rely on the chemical modification of histone proteins. Misregulation of histone modification can cause a variety of human cancers. Dr. Worden is using structural biology and biophysical approaches to understand how the precise patterning of histone modifications - the “histone code” - is established. He plans to study the regulatory mechanisms that control histone methylation, which is important for the formation of leukemias.

Project title: "The mechanistic basis of crosstalk between histone H2B ubiquitylation and H3K79 methylation"
Institution: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Cynthia Wolberger, PhD
Cancer Type: Blood, All Cancers
Research Area: Biophysics
Yi Yin, PhD

Dr. Yin has developed single-cell assays that will be combined with statistical modeling to understand homologous recombination (HR). Cells use the process of HR to accurately repair harmful breaks that occur on both strands of DNA. Failure to correct such DNA damage can play a role in cancer initiation and progression. Dr. Yin aims to understand this critical mechanism to help guide treatment approaches for many cancer types.

Project title: "Global analysis of DNA break repair by single-cell sequencing"
Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Award Program: Dale Frey Scientist
Cancer Type: Blood, Breast, Skin
Research Area: Chromosome and Telomere Biology
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