Zhimin (James) Lu, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Principal Investigator
Zhimin (James) Lu, M.D., Ph.D., is a Ruby E. Rutherford distinguished professor of Neuro-Oncology Research at MD Anderson. He joined the faculty in 2003, after completing his postdoctoral training in Tony Hunter’s lab at the Salk Institute. He is a leading expert in the field of cancer metabolism. His lab discovered that metabolic enzymes (PKM2, PGK1, and KHK-A) function as protein kinases and elucidated important mechanisms underlying the Warburg effect. In recognition of his contributions to science, he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow in 2017. These discoveries may lead to unique therapeutic approaches for the treatment of cancer.
Yan Xia, Ph.D.
Yan Xia received her Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular biology from Umeå University, Sweden in 2000. Due to her strong interest in cancer research, she came to Tony Hunter’s lab at the Salk Institute as a post-doctoral fellow in 2001 and worked on BRCA1 tumor suppressor. She joined the Lu lab at MD Anderson in 2004. Her research focused on understanding the mechanisms of cellular signaling regulation in tumorigenesis and cancer progression by altering cancer cell metabolism. She elucidated three novel mechanisms for regulation of oncogenic transcriptional factor cJun protein. Her research in cancer metabolism revealed that glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) functioning as a protein kinase, which phosphorylates histone H3, leading to EGF-induced histone H3 polyubiquitylation, nucleosome disassembly and transcriptional activation of the related genes.
Yanhua Zheng, Ph.D.
Yanhua Zheng received her Ph.D. in cell biology from Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in 2004. She joined the Lu lab in 2005. Her early research mainly focused on investigating the mechanism of Ras induced tumor cell migration, invasion and metastasis. She also investigated the mechanism the naturally secreted human macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) serves as an EGFR antagonist in the tumor microenvironment to enhance EGFR signaling and promote tumorigenesis. Her current research focuses on investigating the new functions of the key glycolytic enzyme, pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2), in the Warburg Effect.
Xinjian Li, Ph.D.
Xinjian Li received his Ph.D. in molecular medicine from Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center in 2011 and pursued his postdoctoral training at MD Anderson from 2011 to 2016 in the Lu lab. His research interests are cancer metabolism and oncogenic signaling pathways. He was a 2013-2015 Odyssey Fellow and a 2016 recipient of the 2016 Caroline Ross Endowed Fellowship in the Brain Tumor Research Program at MD Anderson.
Jong-Ho Lee, Ph.D.
Jong-Ho Lee received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Seoul National University at South Korea in August 2011. In Korea, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Cell and Developmental Biology department at Seoul National University School of Dentistry, studying the role of chemokines on bone metastasis. In May 2013, he joined the Lu Laboratory, where his current research interests include elucidation of the mechanisms underlying a growth factor promoted by the Warburg effect and immunosuppressive activity of cancer.
Yugang (Leo) Wang, Ph.D.
Yugang Wang received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and pharmacology from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 2012. During his Ph.D. studies, he helped lead several drug discovery and development projects, which led to Phase II and Phase III clinical trials and contributed the efficacy and toxicity data of five natural products to the Chinese Pharmacopeia (2015 Edition). Yugang also led the establishment of two cell imaging based drug screening systems, one of which has been used in the pharmaceutical industry for quality control since 2009. Yugang joined the Lu Laboratory to pursue his postdoctoral training in oncological studies in 2012. He applied his expertise in biochemistry, chemical analysis, cell biology, molecular biology to research focusing on the discovery of novel functions of canonical enzymes and the oncological role of the abnormal activities in tumors. He also applies his expertise in drug discovery and development in the screening of inhibitors targeting the oncological activities of canonical enzymes.
Xu Qian, Ph.D.
Xu Qian received his Ph.D. in pathology from Nanjing Medical University in China in June 2013. He then joined MD Anderson as a postdoctoral fellow in the Lu Laboratory in December 2013. His current research interests focus on cancer metabolism, especially how metabolic enzymes regulate brain tumorigenesis and survival.
Rui Liu, Ph.D.
Rui Liu received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Sichuan University in China in June 2013. While obtaining his Ph.D., Rui studied the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer metastasis, as well as HIV infection. Beginning in September 2013, Rui worked as an assistant professor and later as an associate professor, in the State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, Sichuan University, focusing on identifying the novel diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers in head and neck cancer. Rui joined the Lu Laboratory at MD Anderson in September 2014 as a postdoctoral fellow. His research aims to explore the role of lipid metabolism in carcinogenesis.
Daqian Xu, Ph.D.
Daqian Xu received his bachelor’s degree in biological science from Xiamen University in China in 2011. From 2011 to 2016, he completed the master-Ph.D. continuous study program at Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In January 2017, he joined the Lu Laboratory at MD Anderson as a postdoctoral fellow. His research interest is the molecular network of tumorigenesis and cellular homeostasis. At present, his projects focus on the non-metabolic functions of lipid kinase and metabolic phosphatase in tumor development.
Yongping Zhang, Ph.D.
Yongping Zhang received his Ph.D. from Zhejiang University in 2016. His doctoral research focused mainly on the role of mitochondrial dynamics and neuro-degeneration disease. His current research focuses on the significance of mRNA N6-methylation for cancers. He aims to explore the regulation signaling pathways for m6A in cancers. He joined the Lu Laboratory in 2017.
Qingsong Cai, Ph.D.
Qingsong Cai received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2005. He completed his postdoctoral fellow research training at University of Florida. His current research in the Lu Laboratory focuses on discovering the novel inhibitors of metabolism enzyme and protein kinase with virtual screening. His interests are to develop computational strategies for drug screening and establish an experiment assay of drug targets for high throughput screening.
Linyong Du, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow (Supported by CSC)
Linyong Du received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in June 2014. During his graduate studies, he focused on the comparative immunology in teleost. He contributed to identifying a series of new genes in grass carp and revealing that ROR family members and STAT3 involved in Th17 related cytokines expression. Since March 2016, he has been working in the Lu Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow. As a member of the Lu lab, he evaluates the mechanistic roles of metabolic kinases in cancer cell escape immune surveillance.