American Society of Hematology Fellow Scholar Award

Pengxu Qian, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Linheng Li Lab was awarded $100,000 over two years for his research that investigates the role of the Dlk1-Gtl2 chromosomal region during blood cell formation (hematopoesis) which may aid our understanding of its potential role in development of leukemia or lymphoma.

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) provide millions of blood cells for circulation each day; however, HSCs must maintain a delicate balance of inactivity and proliferation while maintaining a viable stem cell pool and preventing bone-marrow overgrowth. Therefore, both reserve and active populations of HSCs exist with active HSCs responsible for the daily production of blood cells and reserve HSCs being called into action only when necessary.

The HSC balance is maintained by many important signaling pathways, and it is still not fully understood what signals regulate the different HSC states. Qian has hypothesized that the mTOR pathway that controls mitochondrial function and metabolism is critical for balancing the reserved and active states of HSCs. He plans to explore how non-coding RNAs in the Dlk1-Gtl2 region act upon the mTOR pathway to achieve this balance.