Being a physician scientist, I spend most of my time performing basic and disease-oriented research. This provides me a great opportunity to extend my innate curiosity about the basic mechanisms of disease and explore the possibility of translating basic science discoveries into clinical applications. I had my graduate training (MD-PhD) at the laboratory of Dr. Kouji Matsushima from Tokyo University (Japan), where I acquired extensive experience with studying hematopoietic stem cell biology, dendritic cell biology and chemokine regulation of immune responses. From 1998 to 2003, I did my postdoctoral training at University of Pennsylvania, studying immunology for gene therapy, Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation biology, and pathophysiology of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD, a life-threatening complication after stem cell transplantation). From 2003, I became a research faculty at Penn, continuing my research in the field of stem cell transplantation. Since August 2007 when I became a tenure track Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, I have developed a research program to investigate cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate T-cell immune responses and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). GVHD is a major cause of death and profound immune deficiency after allo-HSCT. New methods to control GVHD are urgently needed. My lab discovered the critical roles of Ezh2 (which is a chromatin-modifying enzyme) and Notch (which is a signaling molecule regulating gene expression) in regulating T-cell immune responses and GVHD. Our research findings have been published in Journal of Immunology (2008), Biology of Bone Marrow Transplantation (2010), PLOSE ONE (2011), Blood (2011), Blood (2012), Journal of Immunology (2013), Blood (2013) and Journal of Immunology (2014). To develop pharmacological approaches that can be translated into patients, I have established close collaboration with scientists both in the United States and other international institutions to assess the impact of newly discovered Ezh2 inhibitors in the modulation of inflammatory immune responses. My goal is to develop novel and clinically relevant approaches to improve the treatment of hematological malignancies. From 2014, I am fortunate to be recruited as Associated Professor (Tenure track) to Temple University to continue my academic career.
I have been successfully applied for extramural grants for supporting our research. I am the principal investigator on several peer-reviewed research grants from national agencies. These include: 1) R01 from NIH (1R01CA172106-01); 2) Department of Defense (WB1XWH-11-1-0294); and 3) Scholar Award from ACS (RSG-10-161-01-LIB).In collaboration with Dr. Ivan Maillard (U-M),we have also successfully applied for Damon Runyon Rachleff Innovative Award, which is an extremely prestigious award to young investigators. With securing these research grants, my laboratoryhas made significant progress in studying mechanisms that control inflammatory immune responses, development of GVHD and induction of anti-leukemic activity after allo-HSCT. Besidesthose published papers mentioned above, we have additional four manuscripts in preparation and/or submission, including one in revision for Blood (2013). Upon publishing these studies, we plan to apply for more extramural research funding to support our research.