Pharmacology professor named to endowed chair in cancer research

Dr. Hong Wu, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, has been named the inaugural holder of the David Geffen Chair in Medical Research, a position that will focus on advancing the field of cancer research.

Established with a $1 million allocation from the David Geffen School of Medicine Endowment Fund at UCLA, the permanent position will play an important role in research targeting new methods of cancer diagnosis and treatment and will help educate and train future cancer researchers.

"We are very pleased that Dr. Wu accepted this prestigious chair position that will contribute to our research efforts in preventing and curing cancer," said Dr. Gerald S. Levey, vice chancellor for medical sciences and dean of the Geffen School of Medicine.

Wu, associate director for research at the translational Institute for Molecular Medicine (IMED) at UCLA and a researcher with UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center, is known for her work with PTEN, the second most frequently mutated tumor suppressor gene.

Using molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemical approaches, Wu's team has revealed the molecular mechanisms of PTEN involved in tumor development and stem cell activity. These studies have led her group to identify cancer stem cells and develop targeted therapies.

"Dr. Wu's scholarship has led to a greater understanding of specific cell communication pathways that can cause normal cells to transform to cancer as part of her relentless efforts to develop new molecular diagnostics and therapeutics," said Michael E. Phelps, UCLA's Norton Simon Professor and chair of molecular and medical pharmacology. "She is also a persistent leader at IMED to integrate basic and clinical scientists with molecular medicine."

Wu is a member of the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute and co-director of the cancer stem cell program area at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA. In addition, she is the associate director of the genitourinary oncology program area and director of the UCLA ES Cell/Transgenic Mice Shared Resource at the Jonsson Cancer Center.

Wu has published numerous studies and is a dedicated teacher, working closely with the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students in her lab. She received her M.D. from China's Beijing Medical College and her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Harvard Medical School.

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