About Student Research

Sherry X. Zhou (2022-present)

How broken metabolism causes cancer

A California native, Sherry Zhou finished her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also during her time at MIT, she completed a minor in French, which included language studies in Paris, as well as a summer of research in the lab of David M. Sabatini, M.D., Ph.D.

After MIT, Sherry enrolled in Mayo Clinic's Medical Scientist Training Program. In the Maher lab, she is studying the biology of the peculiar familial cancers paraganglioma, pheochromocytoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumor, where inherited loss of function alleles in genes encoding subunits of the Krebs cycle enzyme succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) predispose to cancer. Learning how this unusual metabolic defect confuses cells might suggest clues to unusual therapies.

Using engineered cell cultures that model the defects in tumors, and a collection of actual patient tumor specimens, Sherry is exploring how metabolite imbalances change cell biology. Of particular interest is how accumulated succinate and succinyl-CoA metabolites alter protein post-translational modifications in SDH-loss cells.