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Dihua Yu

Dihua Yu

Regular Member

Professor and Chair, ad interim

MDA Z11.5034 (Unit 1051)

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology

Our research is focused on tackling imposing challenges in the new era of personalized cancer therapy. First, we are exploring how tumor cells and tumor microenvironment (TME) co-evolve to induce resistance to targeted- and immuno- therapies; designing counteracting strategies to enhance patients’ responses to anti-cancer therapies. Second, we are decoding cancer metastasis, especially immune- and metabolic-dysregulations in brain metastasis, and developing effective therapies based on mechanistic understanding. Third, we are testing novel immunoprevention strategies for prevention and early intervention of cancer. We also study dysregulation of epigenetic modifiers, and their roles in cancer progression, metastasis, and resistance to therapies. We use multidisciplinary approaches, e.g., two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) cell culture models and various preclinical animal models, e.g., cancer cell xenograft, patient-derived xenograft (PDX), transgenic and knockout mouse models. We determine our studies’ human relevance by analyzing patients’ tissues, plasma specimens, human cancer datasets (genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, etc.) and clinical treatment outcome data.

A tutorial in my laboratory would offer training in critical thinking, key concept and knowledge if studying cancer metastasis and resistance to immunotherapy; provide experience in 3D cell culture and various co-cultures, various mouse models, in vitro and in vivo immune cell functional analyses; in vitro and in vivo assays of metastases to the lungs, bones and brain, biomarker detection in human cancer specimens, basic techniques in molecular and cell biology, CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing and screening, and various unbiased “-omics” approaches, bioinformatics. We also emphasize on training in scientific presentations.

A few potential rotation projects:

  1. Testing new approaches of dendritic cell activation for enhancing immune responses to deter metastasis and enhance response to immuno-therapies in animal models.
  2. Investigating how metabolic dysregulation and immuno-suppression of the brain microenvironment regulate dormancy and outgrowth of brain metastasis in various animal models.
  3. Exploring novel strategies for immunoprevention of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer (vaccination, low-dose immune checkpoint blockade, and nutrient modulations). 

A few representative papers from my team:

  1. Zhang S, Huang WC, Li P, Guo H, Poh SB, Brady SW, Xiong Y, Tseng LM, Li SH, Ding Z, Sahin A, Esteva FJ, Hortobagyi G, and Yu D. Combating Trastuzumab Resistance by Targeting Src, a Common Node Downstream of Multiple Resistance Pathways. Nature Medicine17:461-9, 2011. PMCID: 3877934. 
  1. Zhang L*, Zhang S*, Yao J, Lowery FJ, Huang W-C, Zhang C, Wang H, Palmieri D, Zhang Q, Cheerathodi M, McCarty JH, Huang S, Sahin AA, Aldape KD, Steeg PS, Yu D. Microenvironment-induced PTEN loss by exosomal microRNA primes brain metastasis outgrowth. Nature, 527(7576):100-4, 11/2015. PMCID: PMC4819404. (*equal contribution) 
  1. Li H*, Xiao Y*, Li Q, Yao J, Yuan X, Zhang Y, Yin X, Saito Y, Fan H, Li P, Kuo WL, Halpin A, Gibbons DL, Yagita H, Zhao Z, Pang D, Ren G, Yee C, Lee JJ, Yu D. The allergy mediator histamine confers resistanceto immunotherapy in cancer patients via activationof the macrophage histamine receptor H1. Cancer Cell, 40(1):36-52.e9, 1/2022. PMID: 34822775. (*equal contribution). 
  1. Yuan X, Duan Y, Xiao Y, Sun K, Qi Y, Zhang Y, Ahmed Z, Moiani D, Yao J, Li HZ, Zhang L, Yuzhalin AE, Li P, Zhang CY, Badu-Nkansah A, Saito Y, Liu XH, Kuo WL, Ying HQ, Sun SC, Chang JC, Tainer JA, Y, Yu D. Vitamin E Enhances Cancer Immunotherapy by Reinvigorating Dendritic Cells via Targeting Checkpoint SHP1. Cancer Discovery, 12(7):1742-1759, 7/2022. PMID:35420681



MDACC Faculty

Education & Training

PhD, MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School, 1991

MD, Capital Medical University, 1982

Research Opportunities


Faculty Development