Jen Jen Yeh
Gastrointestinal Oncology Program
Area of interest
One critical goal for translational research is the ability to successfully apply research findings to the clinic. The overall goal of the lab is to identify and study novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer in particular continues to be a lethal disease with few therapeutic options. Our research therefore centers on target identification -> validation -> drug discovery and finally clinical trials. One approach that we are using is gene expression analysis of patient-derived tumors. By correlating clinical and molecular findings, we have defined gene targets/pathways that will be most relevant to these cancers. Using this approach we have identified candidate targets for metastatic pancreatic cancer using using combined bioinformatics and translational approaches. We are now focusing on the validation of these metastasis related genes, as well as circulating tumor cells in an effort to better understand the process of metastasis in this cancer.
Finally, one major hurdle for translating therapies to the clinic is the lack of a predictive mouse models. With a <5% success rate, better models are needed. Therefore we are using two complementary state of the art mouse models for our evaluation of novel therapeutics. First, we utilize GEMMs of pancreatic cancer. Second, we have established a Patient Derived Xenograft Program where actual human tumors are engrafted into mice. These models are helping us to better understand the response and mechanism of action of our anti-tumor strategies, and to design smarter clinical trials.
Awards and Honors
2005 Faculty Career Development Award, UNC GI SPORE
2006 ASCO Young Investigator Award
2006-2007 NIH K12
2006 LCCC Clinical/Translational Science Award
2007-2009 Emerald Foundation Award
2008-9 UNC Program in Translational Science Award.
2008 Faculty Career Development Award, UNC GI SPORE
2008 Kimmel Translational Scholar Award
2008 Franklin H. Martin, FACS, MD Faculty Research Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons
2009 American Surgical Association Research Fellowship