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Keane Lai, M.D.
Research performed at: USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
Specialty/Research Area: Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer
Award Year: 2017
Career Summary:  Dr. Lai is Assistant Professor of Clinical pathology at USC. He is also faculty in the gastrointestinal Cancers Program at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Southern California Research Center for Alcoholic Liver and Pancreatic Diseases (ALPD), Attending Pathologist and Medical Director of Clinical Chemistry at Keck Medical Center of USC, and Director of the Cellular Homeostasis Lecture Series at Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Lai received his M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (2000). He completed residency and chief residency (2003) and clinical fellowship (2005) at the University of Washington, postdoctoral research fellowships at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center / VA Puget Sound Health Care System under Laura Beretta and Sum P. Lee (2007) and Southern California Research Center for ALPD under Hidekazu Tsukamoto (2009), and visiting scholarship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center under S.M. Hossein Sadrzadeh (2011). Dr. Lai initiated his own independent basic science research program at USC in late 2013. In addition to his STOP CANCER Award, Dr. Lai has received awards from the American Cancer Society IRG 58-007-54 (2013), NIH P50AA011999 Pilot Project Program (2014, 2015), Wright Foundation (2016), and NIH grant titled " Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase in Alcohol-Promoted Liver Tumorigenesis (2017). 
Year STOP CANCER Award was received:  2017 STOP CANCER Member Seed Grant (Gastrointestinal)
Description of research performed:  Conventional chemotherapy for liver and pancreatic cancers primarily eliminates “bulk tumor cancer cells” but not highly resistant “tumor-initiating stem-like cells (TICs)”. Thus, TICs can give rise to the recurrence of these cancers, even after initial, apparently “successful” chemotherapy. Dr. Lai’s research focuses on therapeutically targeting cell signaling pathways believed to be important for self-renewal and maintenance of TICs. The goal is to eliminate this population of cells and thereby prevent the recurrence of liver and pancreatic cancers. 

STOP CANCER is committed to funding the most promising and innovative scientists in their early research of all forms of cancer prevention, treatment, cures and subsequent clinical applications. STOP CANCER works primarily with local National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and other qualified institutions in the United States to carry out its mission.

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