Shizhen (Jane) Zhu, M.D., Ph.D., is a biomedical researcher who is particularly motivated by work that has the potential to improve public health by advancing the understanding of cancer for the eventual development of improved therapeutics.
Dr. Zhu's laboratory utilizes a functional genomics approach and a robust zebrafish model system to explore how findings emerging from integrative genomic studies contribute to the pathogenesis of neuroblastoma and different types of cancers, and to translate the knowledge gained from experimental studies into effective therapies for these malignancies.
- Neuroblastoma pathogenesis. Dr. Zhu's laboratory focuses on exploring the in vivo contributions of new genetic findings emerging from integrative genomic studies to neuroblastoma pathogenesis, uncovering molecular mechanisms that underlie the tumor initiation and progression, and developing novel targeted therapies for this devastating childhood malignancy.
- Tumor metastasis. Dr. Zhu is particularly interested in taking advantage of an innovative zebrafish model of neuroblastoma metastasis to define the mechanisms underlying the metastasis of neuroblastoma cells in vivo. She is using novel forward and reverse genetic approaches to identify novel genes and pathways that are critical for this metastatic disease.
- Phosphatase signaling in tumorigenesis. An additional area of focus is understanding the role of aberrantly regulated phosphatases signaling, including the SHP2 and the PTPRD tyrosine phosphatases and their pathways, in malignant transformation and progression of neuroblastoma and different types of cancers.
Significance to patient care
The cancer research community has invested heavily in understanding the genetic basis of human malignancies, including neuroblastoma, but a direct and sustained impact on patient care resulting from new integrative genetics approaches has yet to be realized.
By focusing efforts on neuroblastoma, specifically using a robust novel zebrafish model of neuroblastoma, Dr. Zhu and colleagues will uncover molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathogenesis of this devastating childhood malignancy. Ultimately, understanding these mechanisms will help them develop novel targeted therapies that could reduce the currently high morbidity and mortality rates associated with this tumor.
- Career Development Award, Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program, 2017-2020
- V Scholar Award in honor of Leah Still, the V Foundation for Cancer Research, 2015-2017
- Fraternal Order of Eagles Pilot Project Award, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 2015-2016
- Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), 2013-2018
- Young Investigator Award in Neuroblastoma, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, 2013-2015
- Young Investigator Award in Neuroblastoma, CureSearch for Children's Cancer Research, 2012-2014
- The Friends for Life Foundation Special Award for Neuroblastoma Research, 2012-2013