Mingyang Lu, Ph.D., a computational systems biologist who studies the complex genetics of cancer, will join The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) faculty as an assistant professor in August.
“My primary research goals are toward quantitative understanding of molecular cancer biology by developing and applying computational modeling methods on large gene regulatory networks,” Lu says. “My long-term goal is to design effective strategies for computer-aided cancer therapies using knowledge of cancer gene networks and data from patients.”
Lu comes to JAX from Rice University’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics in Houston, where he is a postdoctoral fellow
“As a theoretician who commits to cancer research, I regard JAX as a dream place to establish my research program,” Lu says. “JAX is one of seven National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers devoted to basic cancer research. I was deeply impressed by the state-of-the-art facility, collaborative environment and centralized services to support faculty and trainees.”
Lu says he is pursuing cancer research “because there are so many cancer-related problems that await to be solved.” Unlike many other diseases that can be traced to a particular gene and be more readily understood, “cancer is a systems-biology disease caused by dysregulation of multiple genes altogether,” Lu says. “To understand the interactions among genes, we need a set of new tools borrowed from other disciplines such as physics, mathematics, engineering and computer science. That’s exactly what my lab will be focused on.”
Lu says he is particularly interested in how cancer evolves through genetic and epigenetic alterations, especially how tumor formation is shaped by the architecture of gene regulatory networks. “I aim to extend the scope of current modeling schemes to large systems, and to take advantage of current available big data in the cancer biology community,” he says.
Lu is a native of China, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Fudan University. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with more than 1,700 employees. Headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine, it has a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.