Zhoujuan Luo Wins Three-Year Fellowship Grant

Zhuojuan Luo, PhD

Zhuojuan Luo, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Stowers Investigator Ali Shilatifard, PhD, has been awarded a prestigious Fellow Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She will receive $165,000 over a three-year period to study the molecular biology of Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) and identify potential anti-leukemic preclinical drug candidates.

MLL, a particularly aggressive childhood cancer, is caused by chromosomal rearrangements that misplace a copy of the MLL gene. The resulting fusion proteins stimulate aberrant gene expression ultimately leading to leukemia.

Luo will use the funds to determine which genes are activated by MLL fusion proteins and how they contribute to the development of leukemia. In collaboration with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, she will analyze leukemic cells from human patients to identify additional factors that accelerate disease progression.

“Once we have a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms contributing to the pathogenesis of MLL we can start searching for small molecules that interrupt the process,” says Luo.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. In addition to funding lifesaving blood cancer research, the agency provides free information and support services.