Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Yajing Gao, PhD

Dr. Gao [The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Fellow] studies how the tumor microenvironment influences anti-tumor immune responses. Her research focuses on lipid metabolism in cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), a specialized population of white blood cells that kill malignant cells. To defend against this attack, tumors release lipid metabolites that can incapacitate infiltrating CTLs. Consequently, these metabolites create an immunosuppressive environment and promote tumor progression. Dr. Gao aims to unravel the pathways utilized by these harmful lipids. She is also investigating whether modifying lipid metabolism in immune cells can unleash CTL response and accelerate tumor shrinking. These studies have the potential to identify new therapeutic targets that will improve immunotherapy.

Project title: "Characterize the role of non-vesicular cholesterol transport in CD8+ T cell function"
Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Named Award: The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Peter Tontonoz, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Tumor Immunology