Yonghzi Karen Cui MD, Ph.D, Biologist
Dr. Cui received her M.D. and Ph.D. from China Medical University, then undertook postdoctoral training in NIDDK under the mentorship of Lothar Hennighausen where she developed and characterized the Stat5-/- mouse. This work demonstrated an essential role for Stat5 in pregnancy associated proliferation and differentiation of mammary epithelium (Cui, Mol Cell Biol, 2004), liver regeneration (Cui, Hepatology 2007) and lymphoid development (Yao, PNAS, 2006). Since joining the Mackall laboratory in 2006, Dr. Cui has extended her expertise to murine models of immunotherapy. In 2009, she demonstrated that lymphoreplete hosts are better suited to support adoptive immunotherapy than lymphopenic hosts if appropriate targeted therapies are administered to mimic the lymphopenic milieu (Cui et al, Blood, 2009). She has also led studies of a TCR transgenic mouse targeting murine survivin that develops spontaneous T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia with high penetrance. Her work suggests that expression of T cell receptors responsive to a self-antigen during early stages of thymic development results in a risk for neoplastic transformation, with the T cell receptor contributing an important oncogenic signal. This work has broad implications for the development of genetically engineered based immunotherapies targeting cancer-associated antigens.