Hui Zong, PhD
Cell of origin, tumor-niche interactions, and the evolution process of brain tumors
The overarching theme of Zong lab's research is focused on understanding dynamic behaviors of cancer cells in their native environment. While most human cancers originate from one or a few mutant cells and evolve over a long period of time, traditional end-stage studies forgo a large amount of temporal and spatial information that could reconstruct the events that lead to the ultimate malignancy. Zong lab uses MADM, a mouse genetic mosaic system, to inactivate tumor suppressor genes in sparse cells and unequivocally label them with green fluorescent protein (GFP). The labeling of rare mutant cells confers one the accessibility to the earliest stage of tumorigenesis, and affords the possibility to study cancer at single-cell resolution in living animals. Recent work in the lab has revealed the cell of origin for malignant gliomas, and the surprising source of niche cells in medulloblastoma. The lab is highly motivated in translating research findings into clinical practice, and in applying MADM as pre-clinical mouse model to precisely evaluate drug efficacy in a highly relevant setting. Finally, the lab is open to collaborations with anyone who is interested in applying MADM to other types of cancers.