Damon Runyon Researchers

Meet Our Scientists
Ronghui Zhu, PhD

Our immune system can help us prevent or slow cancer development. Human CD4+ T cells play critical roles in regulating our immune responses to fight cancer. Upon encountering a pathogen, na├»ve CD4+ T cells differentiate into different T helper (Th) cells to perform diverse immune-modulatory functions. Variability in this differentiation process is associated with variable responses to cancer immunotherapy. While several genes necessary for differentiation have been identified, researchers lack a comprehensive map and a predictive model of the larger gene regulatory network (GRN) controlling this process. Dr. Zhu [Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow] plans to combine functional genomics with mathematical modeling to systematically map and model the human CD4+ T cell differentiation GRN and use the GRN model to predict and control the differentiation process. His work promises to provide a quantitative understanding of the CD4+ T cell differentiation process and open up new strategies for safer and more effective cell-based cancer therapy. Dr. Zhu received his PhD from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena and his BS from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong.

Project title: "Mapping and modeling the human CD4+ T cell differentiation gene regulatory network"
Institution: Gladstone Institutes
Named Award: Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Alexander Marson, MD, PhD and Jonathan K. Pritchard, PhD
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Systems Biology