Dr. Yang receives UT System award to support blood cancer research

Feng-Chun Yang, M.D., Ph.D., professor and A.B. Alexander Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research in the Department of Cell Systems and Anatomy, has been awarded a $1 million UT System Faculty STARs award to support her epigenetic research on blood cancer.

The funding will be used to purchase equipment that will enhance collaborative research activities in her lab at UT Health San Antonio, throughout the Department of Cell Systems and Anatomy and the Mays Cancer Center.

Dr. Yang has dedicated her career to researching the genetic and epigenetic regulation of cancer.

She has a special interest in myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow, and the discovery of therapeutic targets to treat it.

Her team’s recent work led to the discovery of the role of gene mutations, called ASXL1/2, in the development of myeloid leukemia.

“This STARs award will enhance our ability to tackle questions about stem cell biology, epigenetics, biochemistry and animal modeling of myeloid malignancies,” she said. “It will have a strong impact on our research productivity and our competitiveness for grants from federal agencies, private foundations and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.”

State-of-the-art equipment will be purchased and used to provide hands-on training opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows.

Dr. Yang said this award will be used to create a world-class research and training program in hematologic malignancy, cancers that begin in the cells of blood-forming tissue or in the cells of the immune system, within the Mays Cancer Center.

“This fund will greatly facilitate our translational program to develop novel therapeutics and improved care in South Texas,” explained Dr. Yang.

The UT System Board of Regents authorized the STARs program in 2004. Multiple types of STARs awards support enhancement of UT institutions across the state.

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