Hillman Researcher Aims to Target Colorectal Cancer with a Multifaceted Approach

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States and worldwide. While common oncogenic mutations in CRC have been identified, attempts to target these pathways have had limited success.

Jian Yu, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Radiation Oncology, is an expert in colon cancer biology and the signaling mechanisms that promote cancer cell growth and drug resistance. She was recently awarded a new R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to examine the role of the eIF4E protein in colon cancer initiation and progression. Her preliminary data suggests that eIF4E can influence a cancer cell’s ability to grow despite stressful conditions through metabolic adaptation in which it can become “addicted” to certain nutrients. Targeting this metabolic pathway in concert with other pathways that induce cancer cell death and elicit an immune response could improve outcomes for colon cancer patients. Another related area of investigation in her lab is focused on developing methods to protect normal, healthy intestinal stem cells from cancer treatments, which would further improve therapeutic index and reduce side effects.

Watch the video to learn more about Dr. Yu’s research.