Zhijian Qian, Ph.D., an accomplished cancer researcher who holds an endowed professorship in cancer research in the University of Florida College of Medicine, has been appointed co-leader of the UF Health Cancer Center’s Mechanisms of Oncogenesis (MOO) research program.
Qian, the Pierre Chagnon Professor of Cancer Research in the division of hematology and oncology, will co-lead the program with Lizi Wu, Ph.D., a professor in the department of microbiology and molecular genetics.
“Dr. Qian is a very talented molecular oncologist who is on the leading edge of studies on how changes in the chemical modification of RNA can contribute to the development of cancer,” said Jonathan D. Licht, M.D., director of the UF Health Cancer Center. “His work has important implications for tumors as varied as acute leukemia to lung cancer. We are looking forward to his leadership of the MOO research program as we continue to position our newly NCI-Designated Cancer Center for success.”
The mission of the MOO research program is to understand how normal cells undergo complex changes leading to cancer. The scientific objectives of the program include elucidation of deregulated genetic and epigenetic events that drive tumor initiation and progression and development of new cancer-targeting strategies.
“In taking on this exciting leadership role, I am filled with a sense of purpose and determination to drive innovative research initiatives, foster collaborations and ultimately contribute to the advancement of cancer treatment and prevention,” Qian said. “I am honored to be entrusted with the task of leading a team of brilliant scientists and physicians who share a common goal of eradicating cancer. It means relentlessly pursuing novel ideas, promoting the translation of research discovery to novel therapeutic approaches and ensuring the highest standards of scientific integrity.”
“It means relentlessly pursuing novel ideas, promoting the translation of research discovery to novel therapeutic approaches and ensuring the highest standards of scientific integrity.”Zhijian Qian, Ph.D.
Qian joined UF in 2018 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his Ph.D. from the Shanghai Institute of Cell Biology of the Chinese Academy of Science and conducted postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago. Qian is a scholar of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and was awarded Researcher of the Year in 2018. His research has been supported by multiple R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health and other private foundations.
The long-term goal of his laboratory is to understand the mechanisms that underlie the development of blood cancer with a focus on studying the genetic pathways that control the proliferation, survival and self-renewal of normal or leukemic hematopoietic stem cells, and to identify novel therapeutic strategies to treat myeloid malignant diseases.
Recently, Qian’s team discovered a new role of a key protein in mRNA demethylation, which could pave the way for new therapeutic targets for head and neck cancers.
In his new role, Qian’s goals are to advance scientific discovery, bridge the gap between bench and bedside, and support precision medicine research. He plans to focus on three key initiatives:
- Fostering multidisciplinary collaboration not only within the research program, but also across disciplines.
- Encouraging researchers to pursue external grant opportunities and providing mentorship and guidance to enhance their chances of success.
- Procuring state-of-the-art technology and implementing advanced data analysis and storage systems to empower researchers to conduct high-quality research and accelerate discoveries.
“In close collaboration with Dr. Wu, I intend to facilitate the translation of promising laboratory findings into clinical applications, ensuring that our research outcomes directly benefit patients,” Qian said. “I aim to support research efforts focused on identifying biomarkers, developing targeted therapies and implementing precision medicine approaches to improve patient outcomes and minimize adverse effects.”
Zhijian Qian, Ph.D.