Damon Runyon Researchers

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Fangtao Chi, PhD

Dietary interventions such as caloric restriction (CR) and ketogenic diet (KD) are reported to limit tumor growth partially by modulating stem cell function. The intestine functions as the main organ of nutrient absorption and, due to rapid tissue renewal via intestinal stem cells (ISCs), is sensitive to shifts in the body’s metabolic state before and after eating. Both CR and KD conditions dramatically enhance the activity of an enzyme in ISCs known as HMGCS2. This enzyme controls ketogenesis, the conversion of fatty acids into ketone bodies as a means of producing energy when glucose is unavailable. Dr. Chi aims to dissect the role of ketone body metabolites in modulating intestinal stem cell function and tumor growth. With a better understanding of how intestinal stem cells adapt to diverse diets, he hopes to identify new strategies or dietary interventions that prevent and reduce the growth of cancers in the intestinal tract. Dr. Chi received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and his BS from Zhejiang University.

Project title: "Understanding how ketone body metabolites influence intestinal stemness, immune responses and tumorigenesis"
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Ömer H. Yilmaz, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Colorectal
Research Area: Stem Cell Biology