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Howard Hsu receives F99 award for research on stromal lipofibrogenesis in colon cancer progression

August 31, 2022
Emily Rech/MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School

Howard Hsu receives F99 award for research on stromal lipofibrogenesis in colon cancer progression

Wen-Hao “Howard” Hsu, a PhD student at the MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School in the Cancer Biology program, recently received an F99 award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). “This is a big deal,” explains Raquel Salinas, PhD, the director of student affairs and career development at the GSBS. “The F99 fellowship identifies the most promising graduate students in cancer research around the world and provides up to six years of funding to support their transition from grad student to postdoc.”

In order to apply for the award, Hsu was required to submit both a proposal for the research he is currently conducting at the GSBS, and another project proposal for his future research as a postdoctoral fellow. Hsu is a mentee of Ronald DePinho, MD, and conducts his research in the DePinho lab. He is currently focused on studying potential therapeutic interventions for colorectal cancer (CRC) by looking at how oncogenic KRAS instructs stromal lipofibrogenesis to promote cancer progression.

“Particularly in colorectal cancer, current targeted therapies for metastatic CRC patients show limited positive outcomes, especially in KRAS*-driven metastatic CRC patients where KRAS* bypasses targeted therapies to activate downstream survival, proliferation and cell cycle progression signaling. Understanding the molecular and cellular biological mechanisms of colorectal cancer progression will ultimately lead to new targets to prevent or treat advanced disease and prolong survival of metastatic CRC patients.”

Hsu hopes to continue his research in colorectal cancer as a postdoctoral fellow, and is particularly interested in studying telomeric regulation of CRC evolution.

The involvement and dedication each program at the GSBS puts into their students’ growth was a major determinant for Hsu in choosing to pursue his PhD at the Graduate School. He finds the seminars, luncheons, and other events the Cancer Biology department host are invaluable to his predoctoral experience.

“The Cancer Biology department holds a weekly seminar inviting prestigious speakers from various scientific fields—not only cancer biology, but fields like RNA and viral biology—to improve and broaden trainees’ knowledge. The training I am receiving at the Graduate School will establish a well-rounded foundation for my long-term goal of becoming an independent academic researcher.”

Hsu would like to thank his family and significant other for their unconditional support since Day One of his pursuit for a career in science. He would also like to recognize the efforts of his mentor, lab team, advisory committee, and the Cancer Biology department as a whole. He greatly appreciates the mentorship and confidence he receives from everyone involved in his academic journey.

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