Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, UAMS College of Medicine; Cancer Biology Research Group, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute
What is your relationship to cancer?
Prior to joining the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and UAMS, I worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center for 11 years. I had the unique experience to meet many cancer patients who joined our clinical trial programs. Experimental treatments provided by us were likely the last hope for them, and I admired their courage and generosity with all my heart. Because of this, I saw many patients fighting for their lives in the intensive care units, and most of them passed away soon after the experimental treatments failed. This experience completely changed my view of life and death. On the bright side, I witnessed firsthand the development of a breakthrough in cancer treatment called cancer immunotherapy. Several cancer patients were saved from certain death and are now cancer-free, in part because of my research at the NIH.
Tell us about your current research?
Cancer immunotherapy is a new type of cancer treatment and uses a patients’ own immune system to attack cancer. T-cells play a major role in cancer immunotherapy, and several types
of T cell-based cancer immunotherapy have shown strong clinical responses for cancer patients. However, most previous studies have been focused on therapies suitable for the Caucasian population. As a result, cancer patients within the underserved populations, including African American and Hispanic populations, are less likely to qualify for these new treatments
in the near future. To address this, I focus on the development of new T cell-based cancer immunotherapies for underserved populations. I feel very grateful that the Cancer
Institute and Translational Research Institute at UAMS support this type of research.
What do you hope to contribute to cancer research and to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute?
As a team member at the Cancer Institute, I plan to establish a robust research program based
on my previous experience at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH. Since I joined the UAMS, I appreciate the research environment, shared resources and funding provided by the Cancer Institute. I also feel grateful for the help and advice from my mentors through the mentorship program and KL2 program. More importantly, the leadership at the Cancer Institute, Department of Pathology and UAMS has led us to make significant progress in order to elevate the status of this institution. Therefore, I feel very proud to be part of this dream team, with the goal of becoming one of the NCI-designated cancer centers in the near future.
About Dr. Lu
Dr. Lu is a co-investigator with Mayumi Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D., for an NCI R01 grant studying the T-cell responses to high-risk HPV. He is the recipient of the 2021 UAMS Translational Research Institute KL2 Award. A native of Taiwan, he received his Ph.D. training at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, Canada. After finishing his Ph.D. training, he became a postdoctoral visiting fellow at Surgery Branch, NCI, NIH. Lu was promoted to a staff scientist position, prior to joining the UAMS in early 2021.