Lily Wu, MD, PhD

Professor, Departments of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Urology, and Pediatrics
Member, UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Member, Molecular Biology Institute
Member, California NanoSystems Institute
Member, Institute of Urologic Oncology

As a clinician scientist, I am particularly interested in translating bench research findings to clinical application. My initial research interest is centered on building a comprehensive gene therapy program to treat advanced, metastatic prostate cancer. We undertook multi-faceted molecular engineering of the adenoviral vector to tackle the inefficiencies of in vivo gene delivery. In the last 5-6 years, my research group has devoted great efforts to gain a better understanding of cancer progression and metastases. This new investigative direction was driven by the lack of effective therapy for deadly metastatic cancer. We established important collaborations; built useful, informative models; and applied advanced molecular imaging to study the pathways of metastasis in vivo. In particular, we focused on tumor microenvironment's contribution to cancer progression. To this end, we found great therapeutic benefits in targeting tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells and macrophages in different types of cancer.

The metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) project represents a new research topic in my laboratory. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, we discovered that VHL and its downstream pathways play critical role in metastasis. Our research uncovered an entirely new metastatic mechanism that cooperation between heterogeneous tumor cells is driving metastasis. Ongoing research will leverage insights gained from our novel metastatic model to develop new and effective therapeutic targets to inhibit mRCC. I also devote major efforts to teaching and mentoring students, from undergraduates, candidates of PhD and MSTP, postdoctoral and clinical fellows, and have directly mentored over 60 trainees.

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