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Changhan David Lee, Ph.D.
Research performed at: USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
Specialty/Research Area: Cancer Genetics
Award Year: 2017
Career Summary: Dr. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Gerontology at USC, and is part of the USC Norris Cancer Center at the Keck School of Medicine. He received his Ph.D. from USC, and did a postdoctoral research fellowship at UCLA with Dr. Pinchas Cohen. He opened his laboratory at USC in August 2014. In addition to the STOP CANCER foundation, Dr. Lee has been recognized and awarded funding by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Ellison Medical Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), the SC CTSI, the Hanson Family, the Zumberge funds, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIA). He was also the finalist for the prestigious Damon Runyon Foundation Innovation award. He has been invited to give numerous lectures on the novel field of mitochondrial-encoded peptides around the globe. 
 
Year STOP CANCER Award was received: 2017 Tendler Family Seed Grant
 
Description of research performed: Dr. Lee has discovered new genes in the mitochondrial genome that regulates cancer metabolism and growth. This is important because the mitochondria are well-established key regulators of cancer, but nothing is known about genes encoded in their genome. This is reflected by the fact that FDA-approved drugs and diagnostics for cancer are virtually non-existent. Dr. Lee’s laboratory studies how cancers manipulate mitochondrial-encoded genes to overcome normal cell regulation and how these genes can be targeted for cancer therapy and diagnosis. Currently, he is focusing on one particular gene in the mitochondrial genome that he found and named MOTS-c.
 
Results of research: Dr. Lee’s laboratory has published that MOTS-c is key regulator of metabolic homeostasis in normal tissues. His laboratory recently found that MOTS-c can inhibit tumor growth and provides the potential to battle cancer by now targeting both of our genomes (mitochondrial and nuclear genome). 

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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