Lung Cancer

Current Projects
Dian Yang, PhD

Dr. Yang is examining tumor heterogeneity in search of new diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets. A tumor consists of not only cancer cells, but also immune cells, fibroblasts, and other stromal components. The diverse cell types and cell states that form the tumor microenvironment (TME) may promote disease progression and lead to therapeutic resistance. Dr. Yang aims to uncover fundamental principles of tumor evolution by generating a comprehensive and quantitative “traffic map” of cancer cell state transitions and fitness changes during tumor development. Understanding this fundamental question has the potential to reveal key biomarkers that predict treatment response and actionable targets that drive resistance, thereby opening up new possibilities for long-lasting, multilayered tumor control.

Project title: “Molecular recording of tumor evolution in response to macrophage modulations”
Institution: Columbia University
Award Program: Dale Frey Scientist
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Cancer Genetics
Qinheng Zheng, PhD

Dr. Zheng [Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow] is developing small molecules that selectively inhibit the protein K-Ras(G12D). Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most lethal common cancer due to the infrequency of early diagnosis and the lack of targeted or immune therapies. A high percentage (>90%) of PDAC patients harbor KRAS mutations, with the majority expressing the K-Ras(G12D) missense mutation. Despite extensive drug discovery efforts across academia and industry, there are no approved drugs directly targeting oncogenic K-Ras(G12D). K-Ras lacks an apparent surface topology for reversible small molecule binding, leading to its notorious characterization as “undruggable.” Dr. Zheng is searching for small molecules that form a permanent bond with the mutant protein at its missense site and inhibit its interaction with effector proteins.

Project title: "Drugging K-Ras(G12D) with targeted covalent inhibitors"
Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Named Award: Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Kevan M. Shokat, PhD
Cancer Type: Colorectal, Lung, Pancreatic
Research Area: Chemical Biology
Pu Zheng, PhD

Dr. Zheng [Fayez Sarofim Fellow] is dedicated to the development of technologies for studying tumor evolution within their native contexts. Understanding the complex processes of cancer growth and progression requires a deep exploration of the dynamic interactions between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment. “Spatial-omics” technologies are powerful tools that offer direct visualization of cells and their interactions in natural contexts, enabling systematic investigation of these intricate processes. Dr. Zheng aims to develop novel spatial-omics technologies that combine imaging and gene sequencing approaches to uncover the mechanisms underlying the spatially distinguished features of tumor evolution. Dr. Zheng received his PhD from Harvard University, Cambridge and his BS from Peking University, Beijing.

Project title: "An integrated imaging- and sequencing-based spatial-omic method to study tumor evolution"
Institution: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Named Award: Fayez Sarofim Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Jonathan S. Weissman, PhD
Cancer Type: Lung
Research Area: Imaging
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