Chao Lu selected to share seed funding raised from Velocity, Columbia’s Ride to End Cancer

August 24, 2020
Chao Lu, PhD
Chao Lu, PhD

Chao Lu is one of four Columbia cancer researchers that have been selected to share seed funding raised from Velocity, Columbia’s Ride to End Cancer. More than 1,000 riders, volunteers, and supporters joined together last fall to set a new record, raising $1.5 million, to support cancer research at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC).

The new class of Velocity Fellows are Benjamin Izar, MD, PhD, assistant professor of hematology and oncology at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeon (VP&S); Minah Kim, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at VP&S; Chao Lu, PhD, assistant professor of genetics and development at VP&S; and Parisa Tehranifar, DrPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.

“The Velocity Fellows are focusing on research projects that will really help drive translational research, pushing discoveries to patient care and/or the community to advance cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, improve the health and well-being of cancer survivors, and influence public health policy,” says Anil K. Rustgi, MD, director of the HICCC and Irving Professor of Medicine at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Their interdisciplinary work in the biology of cancer and in novel therapeutics will greatly contribute to the lives of our cancer patients.”

To drive the research forward, applicants were asked to put together a team with interdisciplinary skills and expertise, bridging together experts from the clinic and the lab. Each fellow will receive $100,000 in grant money to fund their projects.

Selected by a committee of 14 peers and from a pool of 17 applicants, Dr. Lu will use the funding to support the following research:

“Expanding Epigenetic Therapies for Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma”
Lead Investigator: Chao Lu, PhD

Dr. Lu’s project will investigate potential new therapeutic options for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common type of lymphoma affecting nearly 30,000 patients annually. Insights into the molecular pathogenesis of DLBCL have divided this disease into two molecular subtypes: germinal center (GC) and activated B-cell (ABC) subtypes. Recently, misregulation of chromatin, material that makes up a chromosome and an area of expertise for Dr. Lu, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of GC-DLBCL. To date, there are no targeted approaches for patients with GC-DLBCL and there is no method for predicting response to epigenetic therapies that seek to modify gene regulation for these patients. Dr. Lu, a basic scientist, is working with Jennifer Amengual, MD, a medical oncologist with expertise in laboratory and clinical research. They aim to provide a framework for biomarker-guided precision epigenetic therapies for GC-derived lymphoma, and hope to identify novel biomarkers and treatment approaches that could be tested in patients who harbor this specific biology.