“We share Vera Bradley Foundation’s ultimate goal to end cancer,” Dr. Lu said. “Being named the Vera Bradley Foundation Professor is both an honor and an inspiration. What better motivation is there for combining creative strategies with a dedicated passion for ending breast cancer?”
He added: “For me, it really starts with a very simple question, which is ‘what is normal?’ To understand how cancer develops and progresses, we really need to understand the basic mechanisms such as cell growth and the transformation of normal cells to cancer cells,” he said.
Dr. Lu focuses on cancer genomics and targeted therapies. He searches for genetic flaws in and around breast tumors that can be exploited for new ways to treat breast cancer. He also studies the root causes of why chemotherapy stops working and collaborates with other researchers to develop nano-therapies that target microscopic and resistant cancer.
He also studies the cellular pathways that correct DNA damage, dysregulation of which can lead to cancer initiation and growth. This process, known as DNA damage response, was his focus when he identified a key protein regulator, Wip1, responsible for controlling DNA damage caused by toxic agents such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. He also has identified several other important proteins that control tumor growth.
Dr. Lu currently is the principal investigator of four National Institutes of Health-funded projects, and many of his scientific papers have been published in prestigious journals such as Nature, Cancer Cell, Molecular Cell, and Nature Communications.
Previously, Dr. Lu was an associate professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Earlier he held positions at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Zhejiang University in China and his doctorate in biochemistry from Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry in China. He completed post-doctoral work in retrovirology at the National Institutes of Health and in cancer biology at Baylor College of Medicine.
He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Cancer Society, American Association for Cancer Research and the Society of Chinese Biochemists in America. He is also a member of the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories, which include more than 30 researchers at IU School of Medicine focused on treating, preventing and curing breast cancer.
His wife, Xinna Zhang, PhD, also joins IU School of Medicine as assistant professor of medical and molecular genetics.