M. D. Anderson's Xifeng Wu Wins Rogers Award for Research Excellence
Epidemiologist to Accept Honor at Nov. 11 CeremonyM. D. Anderson News Release 11/03/08
Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D.,professor of epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, is the recipient of the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in Research for 2008.
The $10,000 award, which rotates annually among areas of patient care, research, education, prevention and administration, recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate excellence in their work and dedication to M. D. Anderson's mission to eliminate cancer. Wu will formally receive the award at a 2 p.m. presentation ceremony Nov. 11 at M. D. Anderson's Cancer Prevention Building, 1155 Pressler St., eighth floor, Rooms 1, 2, 7 and 8.
Wu's molecular epidemiology research program is known throughout the scientific community as both visionary in concept and revolutionary in approach. It bridges the fields of epidemiology, statistics, laboratory study and clinical research as she seeks to identify cancer risk factors and predictive markers for treatment response.
Her research helps investigators and clinicians better understand the causes of cancer, improve prevention efforts and enhance treatment outcomes. It's an essential element, she says, in the quest to develop individualized cancer therapies.
"These models may help clinicians identify patients, before the start of therapy, who are most and least likely to benefit from treatments as well as those most likely to develop toxic reactions," says Wu.
Wu has spent her entire academic career at M. D. Anderson.
"I truly believe in the core values of MD Anderson: caring, integrity and discovery," she says.
Wu received her medical degree from Shanghai Medical University in 1984 and her Ph.D. in epidemiology from The University of Texas School of Public Health in 1994. She joined M. D. Anderson in 1995 as an assistant professor and by 2004 achieved the rank of full professor. She held an Ashbel Smith Professorship from 2006 to 2008. Currently she holds the Betty B. Marcus Chair in Cancer Prevention and also is on the faculty of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston.
Wu is internationally recognized for her work in developing intermediate phenotypes as cancer susceptibility markers. Her work on telomere dysfunction as a genetic susceptibility factor is pioneering, and she is constantly developing novel functional assays in DNA damage/repair and applying them to cancer etiology and progression. Wu also is on the cutting edge of research involving germline genetic variations. She is particularly interested in pharmacogenetics, a new field that identifies genetic variations involved in determining why some patients respond better than others to therapeutic drugs.
A highly productive and recognized cancer epidemiologist with more than 200 publications, Wu has established extensive collaborations with investigators at M. D. Anderson and around the nation. She is the principal investigator on nine large National Institutes of Health-funded epidemiological studies totaling more than $22 million. Wu also is a collaborative investigator on many other NIH-funded grants, including a recent multi-institutional study of bladder cancer, which she directed.
"I see these integrative projects as the best way to translate science into medicine," she says. "They are only possible through close teamwork within a large multidisciplinary group of scientists."
Nominated and selected as one of the finalists for M. D. Anderson's Best Boss Award in 2007, Wu leads a multidisciplinary team of 35 people and is a mentor to numerous trainees.
"Mentoring trainees and junior faculty members is a responsibility and a privilege," she says. "They are the future of science and discovery, and I take great pride in their every success. To me, their success is my success. It is my dream that they will cherish the core values of M. D. Anderson as I do and spread them all over the world when they become independent investigators."
Most of all, however, Wu says she views her family and home life as her greatest reward. She and husband Dong Liang, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Texas Southern University, have two children, Alex, 10, and Jian, 8, who attend St. Thomas Episcopal School in Houston.
Regina Rogers, a senior member of M. D. Anderson's Board of Visitors, established the Rogers Award in 1987 in honor of her parents, Julie and Ben Rogers, and in appreciation of the care her brother and her mother received at the institution. Ben Rogers served on the Board of Visitors from 1978 until his death in 1994, when his daughter and wife established the Julie & Ben Rogers Breast Diagnostic Clinic in his memory. Julie Rogers died in 1998.
"The dedication, excellence and integrity of the M. D. Anderson faculty and staff are a constant inspiration to me," says Rogers. "I consider them an extension of my family, so it seems fitting to perpetuate this award that also honors the memory of my parents."