In the lab of Gregg Semenza, my research interest is to investigate the role of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) in the control of breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) and to develop novel therapeutic strategies that will improve the response to chemotherapy by targeting BCSCs. We have shown that treatment with chemotherapy increases the BCSC population, which leads to drug resistance, tumor recurrence and metastasis. My studies have delineated HIF-regulated pathways that play important roles in the breast cancer cell response to chemotherapy. Targeting HIFs or downstream pathways will block induction of the BCSC phenotype and may improve clinical outcomes in breast cancer.
Questions & Answers
Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?
I was first attracted by the outstanding work from the Semenza lab when I started to touch some research on HIFs at the end of my Ph.D. period. After a visit for my interview, the cutting-edge research facilities, the nurturing environment for trainees, as well as the history of Johns Hopkins let me make the final decision to join Hopkins for postdoc training.
What contributed to your project’s success?
The most important factor that contributes to the success of my project is the guidance from my talented and devoted mentor, Dr. Semenza. He has given me the freedom to discover the field I am interested in, and has given me invaluable instructions and suggestions when I met problems. My curiosity, persistence and resilience are also important for the success of my project. In addition, I am very fortunate to have nice and smart colleagues and students in our lab. The creative and collaborative working environment contributes a lot to the success of my daily work.
What are your plans over the next year or so? Graduating, looking for faculty positions, etc.?
I am planning to start my own lab and am looking for a faculty position now.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I am a fan of sports and food. I spend a lot of my free time watching soccer games and looking for delicious food in different places, together with my 3-year-old son.