Luan receives $100,000 UT System Rising STARs award to research pediatric blood cancers among Hispanics

Yu Luan, PhD

Yu Luan, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Systems and Anatomy in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) received a UT System Rising STARs (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) award in the amount of $100,000 to help lead breakthrough research in cancer genomics, especially in the treatment of blood cancers among Hispanic children.

Luan, who is also an investigator with the university’s esteemed Greehey Children’s Cancer and Research Institute, joined the institution earlier this year as a CPRIT Scholar.

“I am grateful to The UT System Board of Regents. With this funding, I will purchase three essential pieces of equipment, which include two laboratory instruments that will facilitate the extraction of high-quality DNA and RNA from complex or low-input tissue samples,” Luan said. “The other is a high-performance computational server equipped with powerful computational capabilities and AI-focused NVIDIA A100 GPU. Together, they will allow advanced data analysis for cancer genomics research. This computing power will enhance data analysis throughput, facilitate concurrent project execution, shorten the time from experiment to insight and foster multidisciplinary collaboration with researchers from across the institution.”

Luan said that the collaborative academic atmosphere was the main attraction that led him to San Antonio and the health science center, which he says thrives on the seamless collaboration among researchers from diverse backgrounds. “UT Health San Antonio is home to experts across various fields of cancer research, especially blood cancer and houses the largest Hispanic biobank in South Texas,” Luan said. “My work is also particularly relevant for advancing the health agenda of South Texas with its exceptionally large Hispanic population. I feel that this aligns perfectly with my research strategy and offers a unique resource for advancing our understanding of cancer through a comprehensive genomic and epigenomic approach.”

“Dr. Luan’s recruitment was critical to building our blood cancer program,” said Christi Walter, PhD, professor and chair in the Department of Cell Systems and Anatomy. “This UT System Rising STAR award will enable him to study pediatric blood cancer, which is associated with a health disparity among Hispanic children. I am confident that the long-term results of his research will translate into better treatments for all children with blood cancer, particularly Hispanic children, and lead to future increases in the number of collaborative programmatic grants to UT Health San Antonio investigators.”

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the allocation of funds for multiple types of STARs awards 20 years ago to help attract and retain the best-qualified faculty to perform their research at one of the 14 UT System academic and health institutions across the state of Texas.

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